Journey to Mexico's state of Michoacan, (MEECH-wa-cahn), where you will witness the wintering home of the monarch butterflies in the oyamel forests of the region. The trip begins in colonial Morelia, and continues to Uruapan. Visit the villages of the Meseta Purepecha, and the artisan communities on the shores of Lake Patzcuaro. Finally, you’ll visit the winter home of millions of monarch butterflies that migrate to exactly the same region, year after year. It was not discovered until the 1970’s that the annual southern migration path of the monarchs, east of the Rockies, was to the oyamel fir forests of Michoacan where the butterflies cluster in trees to stay warm and protected from the cold air.
- Day 1: Arrive MoreliaArrive Morelia
Upon your arrival in Morelia, you will be met and transferred to your lovely, centrally located suites-hotel. Enjoy Mexican hot chocolate or other refreshments of your choosing, served local-style, at the open-air portales located across from the Cathedral. This is a perfect setting for receiving your orientation to Michoacan.
- Day 2: MoreliaMurals help tell the story of Michoacan
After breakfast, your Michoacan guide will lead you on on a walking tour of Morelia, the capital of the state and a place where traditions in music, arts and higher education run deep.
The city is a colonial architectural gem with stone streets and plazas, and one exquisite building after another designed around central courtyards and gardens. On the walls of the the inner courtyard of the Government Palace, you’ll find larger-than-life paintings by the famous muralist, Alfredo Zalce, which tell a vibrant story of the people of Michoacan. Today you'll also visit the Cathedral, Temple of the Roses, the former Aqueduct, and the outstanding House of “Artesanias”. This special evening will begin with the viewing of the illuminated Cathedral followed by an impressive welcome dinner at one of Morelia’s top rated restaurants.
- Breakfast, Dinner
- Day 3: El Rosario Butterfly Reserve
Leave the world of art and history behind as you embark on a one of a kind nature trek to witness one of the greatest natural phenomena: the winter migration of the monarch butterfly to the transvolcanic mountains of central Mexico. Every winter, millions of butterflies migrate south to the oyamel fir forests which are found in a very small area of the mountain tops in this region. The nearby trees, streams, underbrush and fog all form an intricate ecosystem which enables the monarch’s survival. It wasn’t until 1975 that scientists first tracked down the monarch’s winter site in Mexico. Before this discovery, the monarch’s winter hideout had been a secret known only to the local villagers
- Breakfast, Lunch
- Day 4: PatzcuaroEnjoy meeting the people of Patzcuaro
In the morning, you will visit one more sanctuary before departing for Patzcuaro. This quaint town lies along the shores of the lake that shares its name. After settling into your hotel, you will have the opportunity to walk around the town, exploring its plazas, churches, and charming cobblestone streets.
- Day 5: Tzintzuntzan
After breakfast, we will visit the ruins of the pre-Hispanic Purepecha empire in Tzintzuntzan, which means “Place of the Hummingbirds.” Little is known about the early Purepecha people, but it is believed that they are descendants of nomadic peoples from northwestern Mexico, known as the Chichimecas. Spend time visiting the present day village and artisans of Tzintzuntzan. From here, we’ll continue with a drive around the lake, stopping at important artisan communities along the way, such as Santa Fe de la Laguna and Erongaricuaro, the first towns established by Vasco de Quiroga, and Tocuaro, known for its traditional wooden mask carvings.
- Day 6: Patzcuaro/Erongaricuaro
Today you’ll travel to the eastern shores of Lake Patzcuaro to visit the master wood mask carvers of Tocuaro, whose masks are renowned throughout Mexico. Jaguars and mythical creatures are depicted in these decorative, ceremonial masks. From here, you’ll travel to the bohemian, colonial town of Erongaricuaro, which has become a hub for area poets, writers, and artists. You’ll walk in its charming plaza and absorb the creative atmosphere before returning to your home base in Patzcuaro, where you’ll have time to roam the cobblestone streets and alleyways.
- Day 7: MoreliaVenture through the colonial city
After a leisurely breakfast you’ll say good by to charming Patzcuaro for your return journey to the capital city, Morelia. Today you can spend more time visiting places that captured your attention on the city tour. The Music Conservatory, Regional History Museum, and Arts and Crafts market are favorite stops. Morelia often has temporary art exhibits to explore as well.
- Breakfast, Lunch
- Day 8: Morelia / Onward
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
Price and Date Details
Need to Know
Included in costs: Meals as noted, each night in double occupancy accommodations, land transfers between components, English speaking guides, park or site entry fees, surface transport, equipment other than personal gear, government tax, airport transfer assistance, in-country ticket reconfirmation and check-in assistance (where permitted), complete pre-departure packet, toll-free pre-departure phone assistance.
Not included in costs: Meals not noted as included, gratuities, beverages (except tea or coffee at meals), international or domestic airfare unless specified, airport departure taxes not included with air tickets, visas, itinerary changes after confirmation, any services not included in itinerary, any costs incurred due to canceled or delayed flights, acts of nature or other happenings beyond our control, or other costs as are more fully described in JOURNEYS Terms & Conditions.
Deposit and payment schedule: $500 per person per trip or the applicable amount based on the trip and the proximity of the departure date. A second deposit of $800 per person is due four months prior to departure, and final payment for land arrangements is due 60 days prior to departure. Any applicable permit fees required in advance are non-refundable as well. Airlines require full payment when tickets are issued. The deposit may be made by Visa, Master Card, American Express, or check, and the Reservation Form may be submitted by fax, mail, or via our website. Full payment schedule and cancellation penalties are described in our Terms and Conditions as noted in our Global Expedition Catalog, on our website, and elsewhere. Please request these if you do not have them before advancing a deposit.
Air fares: JOURNEYS can make complete air arrangements applicable to your trip as noted in this itinerary. If you wish to redeem frequent flyer mileage or arrange flights directly with the airline, you may do so on your own at no penalty. If you do, please consult with us on exact arrival and departure dates and times before having your tickets issued to avoid errors.
Insurance: When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.
Itinerary Change Fee: There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.
There are currently no suggested extensions for this itinerary. Please ask the Destination Specialist if you'd like to customize one.