Seeing the butterfly migration should be AT THE TOP of anyone’s bucketlist. It is truly a sight to behold. The monarch butterflies are swarming and flying in masses in the enchanted forest and through the trees. It is something you will never forget and it will find a special place in your heart and stay there forever. They make their way thousands of miles from Canada to Mexico for the winter, and it takes several generations to make this journey. These little bugs are gorgeous yet tough, fending off their predators, such as birds, because they are poisonous to eat.
El Rosario Sanctuary – Take the bus from Ocampo/Zitacuaro to El Rosario Sanctuary. You will come upon a parking lot where afterward you will hike for 30 minutes along many vendors/restaurants until you reach the ticket office. Buy a ticket. Your guide is included and mandatory. You will hike another 40 minutes up a mountain through the woods (or you can rent a horse to take you). Once you reach the top you will come upon a clearing where there are literally thousands of butterflies swarming everywhere. Ten minutes past this, you will hike into the woods and find swarming butterflies in the trees. You will not be sorry you came. GO ON A SUNNY DAY!
Sierra Chincua Sanctuary – Take the bus from Zitacuaro/Ocampo to Angangueo, and from there find another bus to take you to Sierra Chincua. Once you arrive at S.C., you will hike for 40 minutes through the woods until you reach the parking lot. If you drive your own car, you would obviously drive to the parking lot. From the parking lot, there are bathrooms and the ticket booth. Buy a ticket. Your mandatory guide is included. It is a 40 minute hike to the butterflies or you can rent a horse to take you. The hike is through the gorgeous woods up through the mountains and the butterflies reside in the ‘colonia principal’ (main colony). GO ON A SUNNY DAY!
Something to note about Sierra Chinqua: Unfortunately, the Mexicans who oversee this particular area only allow ‘locals’ (other Mexicans) and not foreigners to go to the main colony. This made me extremely angry and I peacefully protested by going to the main colony where I was prohibited from going and sitting under the main colony surrounded by the butterflies for 20 minutes. The Mexican locals kept telling me to leave and I refused. I was unable to tell them why because my Spanish was poor and they just thought I was being rude and disrespectful, but allowing only their own people to see this incredible UNESCO site where people come from all over the world to see maybe once in their lifetime and discriminating against people from other places is really a crime against humanity. I have as much of a right to experience this place as any Mexican, and I exercised my right that day. It would be like telling anyone who is not American they cannot see the Grand Canyon. It is disgusting. I sat there until I had my fill and when I was ready to leave, I left, and I’m glad I did it and would do it again.
Check out Angangueo, a beautiful and charming pueblo magico near the Sierra Chincua monarch butterfly sanctuary. Beautiful churches, good food, friendly people and colorful buildings. Check it out after you finish at Sierra Chinqua.
Go on a SUNNY DAY between 12-3PM in LATE FEBRUARY to these sanctuaries to see the butterflies. That is when these beauties are swarming and you stand the best chance of them landing on you! It is also the best picture time! Enjoy this magnificent scene!