A Travellerspoint blog

Monarch Mariposa Reserve

Millions of butterflies, then millions of people, by Shona

sunny 22 °C

For the past few years our kids have hatched butterflies at school and been fascinated with the Monarch butterflies, and their multigenerational migration from where we live in Canada down to Mexico and back again. So, right from the initial planning stages of our trip it was near the top of the list of places to visit.

The story is quite remarkable! One generation of butterflies leaves Canada at the end of summer, flies thousands of kilometres south to overwinter in forests in the sanctuaries of the Monarch Mariposa Reserve in Mexico. The following spring, the group heads all the way back to their northern locations. Scientists have yet to figure out how they physically undertake such a long journey and how they find these locations when it was their long-dead great grandmothers who visited the previous year.

We were the first visitors to arrive at the reserve and the kids played on a 'retro' park set while we paid our admission and arranged for a guide. In the three minutes while we were doing so, Fraser decided to try some ninja stunt moves on the spinning merry-go-round and smashed his face. I am quite sure he broke his nose. It ended up bleeding for days, but he was a trooper and after a short cry he jumped into the back of a pickup truck with the rest of us for the bumpy ride up the first part of the mountain. Our driver was a lunatic and we were all soon laughing hysterically from being tossed around so much. Even Fraser :(

We hopped out of the pickup when the road ran out and hoofed up the rest of the mountain on foot. The trail had a mighty incline but the kids scampered up like it was flat terrain. I had to take a more leisurely pace but we all reached the summit eventually. Our guide located the roost of butterflies not far from where they had camped out the previous day. The kids (amazingly) sat in silence and watched the Monarchs begin to take flight as their bodies heated up as the cresting sun warmed up the sky. After 45 minutes another guided group of tourists caught up with us and the magic of the moment was lost. We quietly slipped down the mountain and granted the new group a few minutes of solitude with the Monarchs before the fast approaching hordes of tourists arrived.


It was another four hour drive to our hotel in Mexico City and we all struggled to keep our eyes open. The next few days were spent wandering around seeing the sights. There was a huge park (bigger than Central Park) which enclosed a castle and a zoo where we (along with most of the 26 million city residents!) hung out for a day. The crowds just ended up being a bit too much for us as can be seen in these before and after photos from our peddle boat cruise. Ha, I guess there is sometimes a limit to how much time we can spend in close proximity. From here we fly to Merida in the Yucatan Peninsula where we will rent a car for a few days and see the archaeological sights.


Posted by Salsa Sojourns 10:28 Archived in Mexico Tagged butterflies

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents


Lots of culture in Mérida too. Lots of free music. Sunday is special. The butterfly sanctuary is indeed amazing. Best in early March when the little guys tend to come alive for their journey home. Multi-thousands flutter down like big technicoloured snowflakes. When we were there we saw on a blackboard the lists of sites of origin of the tagged arrivals, we even saw one from home town Meaford!

by Leo

What wonderful times you are having! I love love love Monarch butterflies. In vain, I planted milkweed but never had a black and orange visitor. Poor Fraser! But what a trooper he is!

by Lynn Bibby Smith

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.