About the Experience
Immerse yourself in millions of monarchs in the high mountains of central Mexico. Enjoy the cuisine, lodging, and cultural features distinct to Michoacán.
Our trips offer the opportunity to travel as more than a tourist, but rather as a part of an excursion with a greater purpose. Your deposit is a 100% tax-deductible donation that goes directly into helping the region you will visit on your trip. Each trip deposit finances the construction of 10 stoves. Total trip cost $4,250 including a $1,500 tax deductible donation.
Registration is now open for 2023. Please contact us with any questions.
From the airport, you will be personally escorted to the luxurious Villa Montaña Hotel & Spa in Morelia. Experience Morelia’s colonial architecture and art, enjoy a group meal, and prepare for an adventure-packed week.
Fall in love with local artisans en route to Hotel Boutique Casa Leal. Spend the day exploring the plaza and streets of colonial Pátzcuaro, and enjoy lunch at the award winning restaurant of Blanca Villagomez.
Journey to Santa Clara del Cobre for a private demonstration by a family of coppersmiths. Explore streets lined with artisan copper shops and end your day with a cocktail on the rooftop terrace overlooking historic Pátzcuaro.
Stay at the quaint estate of Rancho San Cayetano, your home for three nights. Located thirty minutes outside the butterfly reserves, you will enjoy French cuisine and relax poolside.
At last, with cameras ready, you will make your excursion to see the majestic butterflies. Your amazing wildlife experience begins with a horseback ride to reach the peaks of the butterfly sanctuaries.
Return to beautiful Morelia and enjoy your last night at Hotel de la Soledad, located one block from the magnificent Morelia Cathedral, an iconic building with rare 16th-century artwork.
Adios Mexico! Wake up to canaries singing in the courtyard and enjoy brunch or exploring the bustling downtown streets. ECOLIFE staff will ensure your safe transportation to the airport for your flight departing Morelia.
I was literally flabbergasted when the monarch’s let go each morning. We became absolutely surrounded by millions of butterflies. It truly was a spiritual experience and gave me an even greater appreciation for nature. I’d go back in a second!
– Libby Scott, Traveler
You can get pesos at an ATM in Mexico and you generally get better rates that way. Remember that your trip includes all meals, drinks, etc. The only needed money is for gifts (and there are great opportunities for gifts!). We are happy to guide you to ATMs. In rare instances, merchants accept credit cards.
In general, dress casually. We recommend dressing in layers, especially for days where we will be active. A little day pack can be useful for carrying the clothes you shed. Some guests like to clean up for dinner, but fancy attire isn’t required.
Butterfly days include hiking and horseback riding – wear comfortable clothing you are happy to see get dirty. It can be extremely dusty so we recommend you bring a handkerchief to cover your mouth and nose from dust. It can also be fun to wear bright colors, to try and attract butterflies to land on you. During our farewell dinner, we dress up a bit for our last night on the town! Country club casual – a nice shirt, slacks, skirt, or dress. Comfortable shoes.
Bring a swimsuit if you feel like taking a dip at Rancho San Cayetano. All hotels offer laundry service, for an extra charge that is not included in your trip expenses.
Comfortable walking shoes for all days. One pair of dressier shoes for nights out on the town is optional.
This is a visual experience and you will want to have a camera. Carry flash equipment as it can be difficult to photograph in the forest. Do not bring drones, they are not allowed in the sanctuaries. Bring a plastic bag for your equipment to protect it from dust. The photo opportunities are variable – close-ups that beg for a macro to wide vistas or telephoto – bring what you have and be ready for everything. All travellers will be sent a link to the photos ECOLIFE staff takes on the trip if you prefer to download them and not take your own.
Altitude sickness medicine – this trip takes place in areas of high altitude – nearly 11,000 feet in some areas. If you are prone to altitude sickness, please take precautions.
Motion Sickness – Winding roads can sometimes cause stomach sickness.
Allergy – For butterfly days, there will be plenty of dust. Bring saline nose spray and allergy medicine if you are sensitive to dust.
There are pharmacies in the cities, but we recommend travelling with anything you think you might need (eye drops, Advil, sleeping medication, bandages, etc.).
Your arrival airport in Mexico is Morelia (MLM). From Southern California, we highly recommend flying out of Tijuana (TIJ) with Volaris. ECOLIFE staff will be on a Volaris flight, and we can provide you with the details if you prefer to fly with us. If you need assistance in finding flights, please reach out to ECOLIFE and we can assist you.
The airport in Morelia is very small, and all guests will be met in person by ECOLIFE staff at the airport. Once you have booked your flight – be sure to forward that information to ECOLIFE (firstname.lastname@example.org).
When you purchase your flight, if flying directly from TIJ→MLM, we recommend purchasing the additional fee for the Cross Border Xpress (CBX, see below). If you do not, it can be purchased at the airport.
We highly recommend using the Cross Border Xpress (CBX). CBX is an enclosed pedestrian skywalk bridge exclusively for Tijuana Airport passengers who cross the U.S./Mexico border as part of their trip. It is a safe and pleasant experience. You can take an Uber or taxi to CBX or park your car there for a daily fee. When purchasing your airline tickets, inquire as they can be purchased as an add-on with select airlines.
Our first night in Morelia is a Sunday evening. We will have a welcome dinner for all guests. Please plan to be ready to mingle and eat at 7:30pm.
Every guest will be personally met at the airport by an ECOLIFE staff member.
In general, you will have access to cell service and an internet connection at least once a day. Many places we visit will have limited service, but most hotels have Wi-Fi, although the speed varies. You may want to connect with your carrier to confirm any international fees while travelling. Most carriers will allow you to purchase a time-limited international package for a reasonable price.
Traditionally we experience cool to cold nights with significantly warmer days. The temperature might range from low 50’s to 80’s but most likely in the moderate zone. Rain is not typical this time of year but is always a remote possibility.
You will be provided with purified drinking water at all times. We recommend that you don’t drink from the tap, including when you brush your teeth or in the shower. Unless otherwise stated, water presented at our dining stops, and all food and ice including washed greens, are safe. That being said, everyone has different sensitivities, so we recommend you travel with Immodium and Pepto in case you feel ill.
Do not plan on losing weight on this trip. You will be well-fed by what we consider to be the best cuisine in Mexico, from local hole-in-the-wall taquerias to top-end dining establishments. If you have dietary requirements, we can almost always accommodate you, but you might want to bring a few energy bars or other snacks. It is easy to avoid gluten in Mexico, in this region corn is most popular. In some places, we will order for everyone, in others, you can order what you want from the menu. Vegan options are limited.
In most places we stay, it is safe to go for walks or jogs before breakfast or in the afternoon, as long as you are on-time for scheduled activities. We are happy to provide recommendations. At Rancho San Cayetano, there are big, open grassy areas suitable for yoga or other exercise, or you can take a dip in the pool. The hotels do not provide fitness centers, and do not expect to find fitness studios nearby.
You may have read about a significant die-off of butterflies at the overwintering sites in Mexico. This is a chronic issue and will be an important part of our discussions. But as it relates to your trip, the experience from the ground is not likely to be impacted so you can still look forward to what should be a great trip.