Migrate with millions of ButterfliesMichoacan, Mexico
Think of animal migration and the great beasts of Africa thunder to mind, but one of the world’s most curious journeys is that of the humble monarch butterfly. Fleeing the paralysing winters of Canada and the United States each January, these delicate bugs travel up to 4,500 kilometres, fluttering into the depths of Mexico’s forests in the state of Michoacan, where they cling to oyamel firs, forming a layer of moving colour that coats the branches and bristles.
Grab your camera and snap them in whirling clouds at El Rosario Sanctuary, ride horses and hike mountainous terrain to see them at Chincua Sanctuary and make a final butterfly stop in dense vegetation at Piedra Herrada Sanctuary. Thriving in the warmth, these butterflies surpass their usual six-week lifespan, surviving until spring, when they return north. The following year their distant relatives will migrate to Michoacan to smother the same trees chosen by their ancestors.
When you’re not marvelling at fluttering insects, visit waterfalls, ruins and vibrant markets and discover the local culture, which is rooted in the Aztec belief that the souls of the dead are reborn as butterflies. This migration may lack thundering hooves, but the pulse of billions of beating wings is equally captivating.
Natural Habitat Adventures offers a six-day ‘Kingdom of the Monarchs’ small-group tour with a carbon emissions offset from US$2,995.