Gain rare insight into beautiful and threatened corners of our world. Every year, ECOLIFE plans action-packed adventures to the countries closest to our hearts. You will have an experience exploring nature and international culture, while playing an essential part in supporting ECOLIFE and our programs in each area. All trips are booked on a first-come, first-served basis. ECOLIFE promises to do our best to accommodate your reservation. 

Roar of the Monarch Butterfly – Expedition to Mexico

Register for 2020’s adventure: February 23 – March 1, 2020

For registration and additional details, contact us at 760.740.1346 or email


Immerse yourself in the rare beauty of the millions of monarchs, draping the oyamel fir trees at their protected sanctuaries in the high mountains of Michoacán, Mexico. Butterflies wings create a humming chorus – an experience like no other. Between butterfly journeys, indulge in delicious Mexican cuisine, find yourself pampered in unique lodging, and discover the historical and cultural features that are distinct to the colonial cities of Michoacán. Visit with local artisans exclusive to this region while exploring beautiful Morelia, Pátzcuaro, and Zitácuaro cities. Having traveled to the depths of this phenomenon for over 30 years, internationally recognized biologist and ECOLIFE founder Bill Toone, invites you to experience the butterflies in their full glory. Gain insight into local customs, people, and the monarch migration through Central Mexico native Alejandro Vilches, guiding ECOLIFE travelers for over 12 years. This is one of the most rewarding authentic experiences you will encounter. You’ll leave having tasted what Michoacán truly has to offer the eco and outdoor enthusiast.

Utapenda Kenya Trip

Join us to explore and protect the diversity of Africa.

Embark on this elegant expedition to East Africa and immerse yourself in the rich diversity of wildlife on this once-in-a-lifetime, highly exclusive safari. No two days are alike, and a surprise awaits around every corner as you move through sanctuaries abound with some of the planet’s most magnificent forms of life. This landscape is home to many unique and vibrant cultures, and during your travels, you will meet the local people and be welcomed to engage in Maasai and Samburu traditions. Between adventure-filled days, travelers spend their nights in some of the country’s most luxurious tented camps. From boutique lodgings to exotic animals to authentic cuisines, prepare for a vibrant and memorable journey.


In general, you will have access to cell service and internet connection at least once a day. Many places we visit will have limited service, but all hotels have great service.
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 need money is for gifts (and there are great opportunities for gifts!)
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.
Comfortable walking shoes for all days. One pair of dressier shoes for nights out on the town.
You may have read about a significant die-off of butterflies at the overwintering sites in Mexico. This is chronic issue and will be an important part of our tequila-fueled 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.
In general, dress casual. 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. Keep in mind that our butterfly days are “in the field”.  It can be extremely dusty so wear clothes that you are happy to see get dirty.  Really dirty. Recommended for you to 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. A bandana or scarf for horseback riding days is recommended as it can get dusty. 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.
This is a visual experience and you will most likely want to have a camera – still photos and/or video. Carry flash equipment as it can be difficult to photograph in the forest. We ask that you do not bring drones, since they can be destructive to the butterfly sanctuaries. Bring a plastic bag for your equipment – the dust can be horrendous! 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.
Everyone hears the stories about Mexico water.  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. Unless otherwise stated water presented at our dining stops, and all food and ice including washed greens are safe.
Everyone will be personally met at the airport by Bill Toone and Sunni Black, or an ECOLIFE staff member.
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.
We highly recommend using the Cross Border Xpress. 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. Book your tickets here: