butterfly preserves in mexico

Photos of Butterflies in Mexico at the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuaries

butterflies in mexico

Sierra Chincua Monarch butterfly, male, noted by the black spots in the center.

Our entire reason to visit our neighbors to the south was to see the butterflies in Mexico in their winter habitat. Every year I think about going to Mexico, and then I get so busy with Sacramento real estate that we never go. Last fall I decided to make this trip a priority and book a trip the first week of February. It was not convenient, not in the least, especially since I had just come home from a my 6-week wor-cation in Hawaii. It was really difficult to schedule my workload so I could get away yet still handle all of my clients while there, but you know what they say. Ask a busy person to organize and plan, and she’ll do it.

It’s not easy to reach, either. You’ve got to really want to see the butterflies in Mexico to do this trip. For starters, it helps to understand how the butterflies get to their destination. Not all butterflies from California, for example, winter in Mexico. Those west of the Sierra Mountains tend to settle in the Monterey Peninsula and some make it to San Diego. But the rest of the butterflies in the states and Canada fly to Mexico.

Those that fly to Mexico do not return. There are 4 to 5 generations of butterflies who settle into the mountains called the sacred firs in the mountains of Mexico. They mate, reproduce and die. It is the 5th generation that lives the longest, sometimes up to 8 months, and it is this generation that goes back to its ancestral home in North America. They just follow the Sierra Madre. They are immigrants, not born in the United States. I wondered if Trump would shoot them out of the sky because there is no wall high enough to keep out these immigrants.

To get there, we flew to Salt Lake City, because I refuse to fly United and prefer Delta. We met our connecting flight on Delta to fly into Mexico City. A private driver met us at the airport and drove us the our hotel, so we could spend 4 days in the city to acclimate to the altitude. It’s higher than Denver at about a mile and half. Then we drove to Hotel Rancho San Cayetano in Zitácuaro in the mountains. More about that place in another blog. From there, a private driver took us to El Rosario, passing through several quaint cobblestone towns with narrow streets.

Arriving at  El Rosario, we had to walk straight up hill, albeit paved, at least a mile, maybe more. A worker on the side of the road called out to me as I was panting and clutching my heart, “Are you sure you’re gonna make it?” Once we arrived at the clearing, we then hopped up on horses, and road another 30 minutes on horseback, going straight up again. When we reached the next clearing, we peeled our sore bodies off the horses and proceeded to hike on foot another mile or so. And then, there at last, we found the butterflies in Mexico! Clinging to the sacred firs. At elevations above 10,000 feet.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is emotionally overpowering and you can’t help but cry. 200 million butterflies migrate to Mexico. When they suddenly take flight, perhaps because the sun has warmed their wings, it is absolutely magnificent. Magical. The second day, I finally laid on the ground at the Sierra Chincua to watch them swarm overhead. We were told there is something about exhaling that drives them away. And the sound, the sound of hundreds of thousands of butterflies batting their wings! I can’t describe how incredible this is to see and hear.

It’s a feeling of being part of a secret hideaway, a time of creation and death happening simultaneously before your eyes, a wonder of nature unfolding before you in such glory and spectacular innocence. I hope you like my photos below. The first group are from El Rosario and the second are from Sierra Chincua. We spent two memorable days visiting the butterflies in Mexico. Unfortunately, no photos nor video can do this experience justice nor accurately depict; you really need to be there in person.

butterflies in Mexico

Monarch butterflies at El Rosario Sanctuary in Mexico.


butterflies in mexico

Butterflies in El Rosario Sanctuary in Mexico.


butterflies in Mexico

Adam Weintraub and Elizabeth Weintraub at Sierra Chincua Sanctuary, walking among the butterflies.


butterflies in mexico

Monarch butterflies at Sierra Chincua Sanctuary in Mexico.


butterflies in mexico

Monarch butterflies on sacred firs at Sierra Chincua Sanctuary.


Photos Elizabeth Weintraub

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