Magical Mexican Migrations: Pacific Whales and Highland Butterflies

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OVERVIEWITINERARY DETAILDATES AND PRICES

Witness the miracle of nature as giant gray whales and millions of monarch butterflies make their way across Mexico.

This remarkable 10-day excursion to see incredible animal migrations in Mexico offers the chance to get within touching distance of these two miracle journeys.

Head to the monarch butterfly reserves near Morelia, including El Rosario, to witness ethereal clouds of featherweight butterflies flap and glitter in the sun.

Then, journey to Los Cabos to take boat tours onto Magdalena Bay and come face-to-face with school bus-sized eastern gray whales.

Throughout the journey, take diversions to see some other wonders of Mexico, including a private tour of Morelia and snorkeling with sea lions.

PHOTO GALLERY

HIGHLIGHTS

Butterfly reserves – Witness the extraordinary annual migrations of the monarch butterfly in their natural habitat.

Morelia – Tour Michoacán’s UNESCO World Heritage City and its beautifully maintained and restored colonial architecture.

Magdalena Bay – Witness the annual migrations of the eastern gray whale in their natural habitat.

Isla Espiritu Santo – Swim with wild sea lions in the Sea of Cortez and explore protected marine areas by kayak.

Day 1: Arrival to Morelia

Bienvenido a México! The journey begins with a warm welcome at Morelia International Airport and a private transfer to a charming hotel. Spend the rest of the day relaxing, refreshing, and enjoying the hotel before the next day’s travel onward to Rancho San Cayetano gateway to the Monarch Biosphere Reserve.

Overnight: Casa Grande Hotel Boutique

 

Day 2: Morning at Leisure and Private Transfer to Zitácuaro

After breakfast in Morelia, you will journey toward the rugged and verdant winter home of the brilliantly coloured Monarch Butterfly. Spend the night among pine and fruit trees, outside the reserve before two days of exploration among the migrating Monarchs.

Overnight: Rancho San Cayetano

 

Day 3: Butterfly Biosphere Reserves

Experience the ethereal beauty of the Monarch butterfly migration with a guided visit to El Rosario Sanctuary.

After breakfast, your private guide will pick you up from your hotel to start the drive to the butterfly sanctuary, around a 1.5-hour journey. As the drive ascends into the mountains, enjoy views framed by volcanoes, looking over the fertile valley with avocados, apples, passion fruit, quince, peach, and guava trees, alongside gladiolus, roses, carnations, orchids, and poinsettia flowers.

Arriving to El Rosario Butterfly Sanctuary, you can enter on foot or by horseback ride (not included). As you continue up the trail, at every pause your expert guide will explain about the “discovery” of the Monarch’s winter migration grounds by Canadian scientist Fred Urquhart.

After the forest thickens, you´ll reach the epicenter of the resting Monarchs, where millions of them cover the branches of fir trees. With sunshine warming the woods, the butterflies´ black and orange wings can be seen fluttering around to the open areas where they can fly free in “clouds”. Take in these truly magical moments, in an otherworldly scene surrounded by Monarch butterflies.

After descending the trail, you´ll be driven back to your hotel in Zitácuaro.

Please note: Horses are available to ascend/descend the trail in the sanctuary (not included). Horses are subject to availability in the moment as they cannot be reserved in advance. The path inside the sanctuary follows a groomed, but sometimes fairly steep trail that reaches 9,000 to 10,000 ft. above sea level. Guests will be required to walk or horseback ride at a steep incline surface for over an hour

Overnight: Rancho San Cayetano

 

Day 4: Second butterfly biosphere reserve

Experience the ethereal beauty of the Monarch butterfly migration with a guided visit to Sierra Chincua Sanctuary.

After breakfast, your private guide will pick you up from your hotel to start the drive to the butterfly sanctuary, around a 2-hour journey. As the drive ascends into the mountains, enjoy views framed by volcanoes, looking over the fertile valley with avocados, apples, passion fruit, quince, peach, and guava trees, alongside gladiolus, roses, carnations, orchids and poinsettia flowers.

Arriving to Sierra Chincua Butterfly Sanctuary, you can enter on foot or by horseback ride (not included). As you continue up the trail, at every pause your expert guide will explain about the “discovery” of the Monarch’s winter migration grounds by Canadian scientist Fred Urquhart.

After the forest thickens, you´ll reach the epicenter of the resting Monarchs, where millions of them cover the branches of fir trees. With sunshine warming the woods, the butterflies´ black and orange wings can be seen fluttering around to the open areas where they can fly free in “clouds”. Take in these truly magical moments, in an otherworldly scene surrounded by Monarch butterflies.

After descending the trail, you´ll be driven back to your hotel in Zitácuaro.

Overnight: Rancho San Cayetano

 

Day 5: Private Transfer to Morelia with a Half Day City Tour

Today, you will depart from the Butterfly gateway of Zitácuaro for historic Morelia, recognized globally for its intellectual traditions and eclectic mix of medieval and Renaissance spirits. Enjoy a half-day tour of the city, visiting the central square and seeing masterfully restored 17th and 18th-century colonial mansions.

Overnight: Casa Grande Hotel Boutique

 

Day 6: Morelia to La Paz

This morning, your driver will provide you with a private transfer to Morelia International Airport for onward travel to the magnificent desert and ocean ecology of Baja California Sur.

Arrive La Paz to relax in your historic boutique hotel located a short walk from the waterfront promenade, or malecĂłn.

Overnight: Baja Club Hotel

 

Day 7: Privately Guided Excursion to EspĂ­ritu Santo Island

On this full day experience, you´ll visit Espíritu Santo Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site full of natural life.

Take a skiff out of La Paz Bay with your private naturalist guide, who will brief you on the natural history of the island, home to turquoise waters, a sea lion colony, numerous fish species and marine birds. After navigating the waters around Espíritu Santo, you´ll arrive at the native sea lion colony. Accompanied by your guide, you’ll have plenty of time to swim, snorkel and interact with the playful sea lions*.

Afterwards, your guide will seek out a secluded beach for a tasty picnic lunch. You’ll have time to relax, swim, walk, and learn more about the natural and cultural history of this unique place before heading back to La Paz.

*During the sea lion mating period (June 1st through August 31st), sea lion observation takes place from onboard the boats. After observing the sea lions from the boat, you will travel to a snorkeling site away from the rookery to snorkel with tropical fish.

Overnight: Baja Club Hotel

 

Day 8: Private Whale Watching Adventure to Bahia Magdalena

Today you will escape to Magdalena Bay on this overnight adventure! See the amazing gray whales that travel to these protected waters to mate and calve each year.

Your private guide will meet you at your hotel early in the morning and together you´ll drive the 4 hours 15 minutes to Puerto López Mateos.

After checking into your hotel, you´ll have some free time for lunch (not included) before boarding a skiff to set out into the bay in search of gray whales. Your naturalist guide will share their knowledge of these magnificent creatures and the story of their incredible yearly migration. Enjoy a sundowner in the dunes overlooking the Pacific Ocean before returning to your hotel.

Overnight: Hotel Mangrove Inn

 

Day 9: Gray Whale Boat Ride Adventure Thru Mangrove Canals with Picnic lunch at Sand Dunes / Private Transfer to La Paz

After a good night’s rest, get up early and watch Magdalena Bay come to life – you´ll see why it´s known as the jewel of the Pacific! Following breakfast at your hotel, you´ll head back out into the bay to search for friendly whales, making your way south to finish in Puerto San Carlos. Along the way, you´ll explore mangrove canals, massive sand dunes and secluded beaches, as well as witness the seabirds and marine mammals that live there. On route, there´ll be time for a picnic lunch on Magdalena Bay Island. Back on dry land, you´ll be privately driven the 3 hours 45 minutes back to your hotel in La Paz.

Overnight: Baja Club Hotel

 

Day 10: Departure from La Paz

After breakfast, enjoy a private transfer from the hotel to La Paz International Airport for return flights home.

Dates

This trip can be customized for a private journey from late December through March. The best viewing is during February and March.

Prices

Our custom-tailored journeys start from $1,000 USD per day for two travelers. Contact us today to discuss your travel desires and design a personalized proposal with exact pricing.

Please note, our pricing guideline is a starting from price and is not necessarily applicable to the suggested hotels contained within the suggested itineraries on this web site. Itineraries are customized prior to final pricing.