Monarch Butterfly Migration Adventure 2025
February 9-14, 2025
Prices starting at $5,195
Please call our tour operator at:

Limited to 16 Travelers

Witness Mexico's Amazing Migration of Millions of Butterflies!

One of the world's most astounding wildlife events occurs each year in Mexico's Central Highlands, featuring the most delicate of creatures. As we enter a grove of fir trees on a remote mountaintop, the trunks and branches appear to be blanketed with rusty autumn leaves. A closer look reveals they are quivering. Then, as the sun emerges from behind a cloud to warm them, hundreds of thousands of monarch butterflies take to the sky—so many that we actually hear the beating of their wings, which glow translucent orange against the blue sky. Sometimes, the monarchs float down to alight on our hats and shoulders. Experience this moving phenomenon with expert interpretation from Mexico’s premier naturalist guides.


The SDZWA Host for this trip will be: Paige Howorth, McKinney Family Curator of Invertebrates

Paige leads the Entomology department and invertebrate conservation programs at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. She has worked at SDZWA since 1997. Paige previously served on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Butterfly Specialist Group and is currently an advisory committee member for the Monarch Joint Venture. As a butterfly conservation specialist, Paige leads two ex situ endangered butterfly headstarting projects at the San Diego Zoo, and collaborates closely with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation on western monarch butterfly science and outreach. Paige is looking forward to experiencing the ancestral home of the people and monarchs of Central Mexico, and hearing the sound made by thousands of butterflies in flight. 

Trip Highlights

Visit Monarch Migration Groves

On foot and on horseback, enter the remote fir forests of Mexico's Central Highlands, where millions of monarchs roost and breed each winter.

Listen to the Sound of Butterfly Wings

When the sun emerges, hear the gentle hum of gossamer butterfly wings as tens of thousands of monarchs take flight, fluttering overhead in a cloud of orange.

Local Culture with Local Guides

Explore traditional Mexican mountain villages and visit an authentic market, witnessing the benefits of butterfly ecotourism for local people.


See More Butterflies—and Experience Mexico’s Rural Mountain Culture

Visiting Mexico’s monarchs in their remote winter roosting sites is an unusual nature experience that few travelers have access to. Our all-encompassing itinerary gives you extensive time among the butterflies, as well as a chance to enjoy authentic cultural encounters.

  1. Make Three Different Monarch Sanctuary Visits on an All-inclusive Tour
    Unlike most butterfly tours, which are simply day trips into a single sanctuary, we also include several cultural encounters to enhance your Mexico experience. At Toluca, originally an indigenous settlement founded in the 13th century, we visit the Cosmovitral Botanic Gardens and view colorful stained glass panels; and in the lakeside resort town of Valle de Bravo, we visit the lively market in the colonial old town.
  2. Our Small Groups Tread Lightly 
    We limit our groups to approximately 16 guests. Small groups reduce our ecological impact, and an intimate context is essential for a quiet, wondrous experience with the butterflies.
  3. Enjoy Authentic Cultural Encounters
    Unlike most butterfly tours, which are simply day trips into a single sanctuary, we also include several cultural encounters to enhance your Mexico experience. At Toluca, originally an indigenous settlement founded in the 13th century, we visit the Cosmovitral Botanic Gardens and view colorful stained glass panels; and in the lakeside resort town of Valle de Bravo, we visit the lively market in the colonial old town.
  4. Mexican Lodgings and Cuisine with Local Color
    From a cozy inn in the small mountain hamlet of Angangueo to a luxury resort situated in a forested region of the Sierra Madre mountains, our accommodations are chosen for their authenticity, charm, natural environs, and access to the butterflies. We also enjoy home-cooked dishes sourced from fresh local food, reflecting the region's cultural heritage.
  5. Your Presence Makes a Difference for the Future of Monarchs
    Our experience is enhanced by knowing that our presence is essential to the butterflies' continued survival: visitors demonstrate to locals that ecotourism can be a more viable and sustainable source of economic well-being than habitat-damaging resource development.


Central america monarch butterflies

Day 1–6: Experience the irresistible magic at the end of the butterflies' 3,000-mile migration to roosting sites in the high-altitude fir forests of Mexico.


Agua Blanca Hotel

Agua Blanca Hotel

Jungapeo, Mexico 
Tucked into the lush mountains of Michoacan, Hotel Agua Blanca is a secluded eco-resort renowned for its legendary mineral hot springs, stunning natural beauty, and restaurant serving organic, traditional Mexican cuisine. A lively river runs through the property’s 75 acres, and guests can explore the verdant forests, colorful gardens and aromatic bushes—all home to a panoply of tropical birds—on a network of trails. 

With just 21 guest rooms, Hotel Agua Blanca offers an intimate experience. Simple rooms are quaint and comfortable, with white walls and exposed wooden beams. Colorful painted accents brighten the dark wooden furniture, and beds are dressed in crisp linens and vibrant blankets. Some rooms have two double beds while others one king, and all have views of the gardens. En suite bathrooms feature solar-heated hot water, stand-alone showers and refillable toiletries (no hair dryers). Although rooms do not have televisions—the owners prefer to keep the focus on nature—Wi-Fi and cell service are available throughout the hotel.

Agua Blanca's main draw is its legendary mineral hot springs, whose healing powers were revered by the ancient Purepecha Empire. The rock-lined pools maintain an average temperature of 85° F, providing a comfortably warm and soothing experience. In addition to the thermal pools, the hotel also has a spa and a traditional Temazcal steam bath. The Temazcal, a sweat lodge, is believed to help with purification and healing  and is available for an additional fee.

In addition to solar hot water heaters, the hotel has implemented water conservation and recycling programs, as well as the use of eco-friendly products throughout the property.

Grand Fiesta Americana

Grand Fiesta Americana Hotel 

Mexico City 
Fully renovated in 2020, the 4-star Grand Fiesta Americana Chapultepec is one of Mexico City's finest hotels. Enjoying an ideal location facing the Bosque de Chapultepec, one of the largest city parks in the Western Hemisphere, it offers the best of both worlds: proximity to the buzz of cosmopolitan Mexico City and a verdant nature sanctuary just out the door. The hotel is conveniently located just 7 miles from Benito Juárez International Airport (a quick 15-minute drive), near the Auditorio Nacional and famed Paseo de la Reforma. Most of the rooms in this high rise tower offer panoramic views, including of the adjacent Castle of Chapultepec. The hotel's modern decor is sleek, elegant and understated, featuring a calm neutral color palette. Standard amenities in spacious 366-square-foot rooms include air conditioning, complimentary Wi-Fi, plush bedding and linens, deluxe robes, a refrigerator, stocked mini bar, and a flat-screen TV with cable. The hotel’s signature restaurant, Azur, serves up Mediterranean-inspired food and carefully crafted artisan cocktails in a space with an inviting mid-century vibe. A full buffet breakfast is also included. Unwind in the 24-hour gym on the premises or refresh and restore at the spa offering a sauna, Jacuzzi, steam room and treatments including aromatherapy massages, scrubs, facials, manicures and pedicures. If time permits, you may wish to visit some of Mexico City's prime cultural attractions in the neighborhood; among them are Chapultepec Park and Zoo, the National Museum of Anthropology, Museum of Modern Art and Rufino Tamayo Museum.

Hotel La Margarita

Hotel La Margarita 

Anguangeo, Mexico 
La Margarita is a simple local hotel located near the center of the small historic mining town of Anguangeo. While its amenities are modest, rooms are clean and colorful, and provide a base steeped in local atmosphere for our nearby butterfly activities. Spacious rooms have en suite bathrooms, free Wi-Fi, and cable TV. Like all accommodations in this remote mountain village, the hotel is not heated. However, rooms have wood-burning fireplaces, which take the evening chill off while adding rustic ambience. Extra blankets are also available. We base our butterfly trips in Anguangeo for the special local atmosphere, the town's involvement in monarch conservation, and its close access to Rosario butterfly sanctuary. 

Know Before You Go

Experience what it’s like to watch thousands of monarchs take flight in the forest, and stand surrounded by gossamer wings glinting in the sunlight. Learn the myths and mysteries behind this spellbinding phenomenon. Discover the butterfly encounters of our travelers and staff in these exhilarating accounts of the monarch migration. 

 monarchs courtwhelan

Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions about monarchs? We've got answers! We've compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions about the butterfly migration, Mexico's climate, transportation, and much more.

monarch butterly weather

Weather and Climate

Find out what the weather conditions are typically like in Mexico City and the mountain town of Angangueo during the monarch migration.

Trip Pricing

Trip Price: $5,195/person based on double/shared occupancy.
Single Occupancy: For a single room, add $1,195. Contact Us to learn how you can avoid the single supplement.
Deposit: $500 per person 

Group Size 
Limited to 16 Travelers
A very important feature of this adventure is the limited group size, as butterfly encounters are best experienced in a quiet, intimate setting. Small groups also mean our environmental impact is light. 

Accommodations, services of SDZWA wildlife and conservation expert(s), Nat Hab's professional expedition leader(s), all meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on the final day, some alcoholic beverages, most gratuities, airport transfers on Day 1 and the final day, all activities and entrance fees, all taxes, permits, and service fees. 

Not Included 
Travel to and from the start and end point of your trip, some alcoholic beverages, some gratuities, passport and visa fees (if any), optional activities, items of a personal nature (phone calls, laundry, and internet, etc.), airline baggage fees, airport and departure taxes (if any), required medical evacuation insurance, and optional travel protection insurance are not included. 

Physical Requirements: Moderate/Difficult
Visiting the butterfly sanctuaries requires walking through the forest for approximately 3 to 4 miles round-trip, at altitudes that could reach up to 10,660 feet. Because the location of the butterflies within the sanctuaries changes throughout the season and from year to year, exact hiking distances on each departure can vary. At times, the terrain can be rough and rocky, and we may have to traverse uneven ground and step over or around sticks and branches. Uneven, steep inclines may require us to maintain balance as we watch the butterflies. The effects of altitude should not be underestimated. The physical exertion involved can be considered strenuous for people who are less active.

The entrance to El Rosario butterfly sanctuary can only be accessed via a 30-minute, open-bed truck ride over cobblestone roads, which can make for a somewhat bumpy ride and may be considered uncomfortable for travelers with back or neck issues. Once inside the sanctuaries, horses are available to ride uphill to reach the butterfly colonies, but not down. When riding the horses, we will be led by a local guide through trails that can, at times, be narrow and rugged, so riders must be alert and maintain balance. Travelers should expect to spend 30-45 minutes on horseback at a time. Due to the diminutive stature of the local horses, the maximum rider weight each horse can carry is 260 pounds.

It is important to note that even with the option to ride horses, there will still be some hiking involved while going up to the colonies, as the horses cannot travel the entire length of the trail. After dismounting, travelers will be required to walk a final 1/4 to 2 mile up a steep slope to reach the butterfly colonies. Depending on where the butterflies are located, this final slope can be less steep at times. Anyone who opts not to ride horses will have an approximately 3-mile uphill hike with roughly 1,000 ft. elevation gain. All travelers must hike downhill back to the sanctuary entrance, descending at least 600 steps over approximately 3 miles, with an elevation change of about 1,000 feet.

Important Information About This Trip 
The monarch butterfly sanctuaries in Mexico's Central Highlands are a marvel no nature lover should miss! Observing millions of monarchs clustering and moving together is a wondrous experience. This trip can be more strenuous than most, however, so please carefully read the section on Physical Requirements, above. 

Getting There and Getting Home 
Plan to arrive in Mexico City no later than 5:30 p.m. on Day 1 of the adventure, as there is a group welcome dinner and orientation at 7 p.m. You are free to depart anytime on the final day. We can best serve you if you Contact Us to help makes your reservations, as we are intimately familiar with the special requirements of this program and can arrange the most efficient travel. Note that while we offer you the best possible rates available to us on airfare and additional nights' accommodations, you may find special web rates or better fares online.