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Curiosities Monarch butterfly (Michoacán)

According to some local story tellers, each year by November the sky goes black in central Mexico. That is because millions of monarch butterflies (Danaus Plexippus) come here (to the hills of Mexican state Michoacán) to hibernate. They fly all the way from the Big Lakes and Rocky Mountains in US and Canada. Their journey takes about 3 months and almost 5000 kilometers! Monarch butterfly is the only butterfly in the entire world that can do such a thing. And what is even more stunning? The length of these journeys exceeds the normal lifespan of most monarchs, which is less than two months for butterflies born in early summer. So the new generation that the next year returns to Mexico, to the very same pine trees and to the very same hills of Michoacán, has never been here before.

Lets admit that the local story tellers exaggerate a little bit, but the fact is that each year from 60 million to 1 billion of Monarchs make this incredibly long journey to Mexico.

The Monarch Butterflies Biosphere reserve is a conservation area and a World Heritage Site.

I arrange private tours to Piedra Herrada sanctuary from Mexico City (November - February).

What here: Walk through the woods, climb up the hills (only local guides know the exact location each year and can take you there). Admire the pine trees branches laden with tiny butterflies. You can also rent a horse for abou 150 - 200 pesos to get you up.

When to go: The season starts mid November till the beginning of March. Best months are January through February.

Where to go: There are few colonies located in Michoacán but only two are open to the public: „ El Rosario” and “Sierra Chincua”, both accessible from a pretty village Angangueo. Closer to Mexico City, you can go to Piedra Herrada.

Entrance fee: Differes, some places you will be asked to pay 200-300 pesos for a guide for a small group. Other places (like Piedra Herrada) the fee is per person, about 50 pesos.

How to get here: For „El Rosario“ or „Sierra Chincua“ go to Angangueo (buses leave from Central Poniente in Mexico City, journey takes 3 to 4 hours). Angangueo is a good base where you can find some simple hotels. For sanctuary „Cerro Pelón“ you better go to Zitácuaro. In any case you still need local transport to get to the sanctuaries. It is a two days trip from Mexico City, unless you have your own car. In that case you can make it a one very long day trip (the sites are about 200 km west of Mexico City). Piedra Herrada is closer, about 2,5 hours drive from Mexico City towards Valle de Bravo.