Michoacán and Monarcas

posted in: Real Journeys | 4

I’m enjoying the discovery of all the natural and human-made beauty that Mexico reveals. Earlier this week I took a three-day trip to the state of Michoacán to do just that. I signed up for this tour last fall, and there were ten of us, plus the drivers/guides, in a van and a Jeep. 


We made the three-plus hour drive to Morelia, the capital of Michoacán, arriving mid-afternoon. This gave us time to explore, so I set off on my own, visiting the Cathedral, right across the street from our hotel, and some of the surrounding neighborhoods. Then we all piled into one of those tour-trolleys for a drive around the historic center of Morelia. This was mostly a waste of time, especially since the narration was in Spanish, and we really didn’t see very much.

Morelia’s historic center is really very beautiful. It would be worth spending more time there. I would have enjoyed seeing a few of the museums and some other sights that time didn’t allow. And of course I’m always eager to try new restaurants. 

Morelia Cathedral
Morelia Cathedral


The highlight of this trip, and in fact its raison d’être, was to visit the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in eastern Michoacán. It was a long drive from Morelia, over three hours, but it was worth it.

From the entrance to the park, you have the option of walking to the nesting area or riding on horseback. Since the horseback ride was included in the tour, I went with that. It was far from easy; the horse, which was guided by its owner, walked as if it had a bad leg. I had to hold on for dear life. And it was a long way up, about fifteen minutes. Still, I’m glad I didn’t walk. The uphill climb culminated at over ten thousand feet of elevation. 

It was a partly cloudy day, and if the sun isn’t out, the butterflies won’t be active. But we lucked out; the sun broke through and the butterflies were active. And abundant doesn’t begin to describe it. There were literally about a million butterflies in the colony!

After a while, it did cloud over, and that brought about a flurry of activity as the butterflies all rushed back to their trees to huddle together (for warmth, I assume).

It was a spectacular display!


After we checked out of our hotel, we drove about 45 minutes to the nearby town of Pátzcuaro, one of 111 officially-designated Pueblos Mágicos in Mexico. We had about four hours to explore. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful town.

Pátzcuaro main plaza
Pátzcuaro Main Plaza

Check out my photo album from the entire trip.

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