Migrating Butterflies Create a Stir in Mexico

Reed Travel Features

RED SPRINGS, N.C. -- Millions of migrating Monarch butterflies and the colonial locales of Mexico are highlights of a program created by Steppingstone Environmental Education Tours.

The firm scheduled six departure dates of its Migrating Monarchs and Colonial City Charm tour, all timed to coincide with the annual migration of Monarch butterflies from Canada and the U.S. to Mexico.

The tour takes in the Butterfly Sanctuary of El Rosario, then heads to Morelia, Santa Clara del Cobre, Patzcuaro and Tlalpujahua. Participants spend the first night in Mexico City, where they receive an orientation lecture on the Monarch butterflies before traveling to the town of Angangueo, the launching point for trips into El Rosario.

The butterfly sanctuary is the breeding ground for an estimated 100 million Monarch butterflies that arrive around the end of October and depart in April for the long migration back to the U.S. and Canada.

The program spends a day exploring the trails of the sanctuary, where the Monarchs cover the sky and trees. The forested region also is a natural habitat for wildlife such as coyote, deer, fox and many species of birds. After spending a night in Angangueo, the tour continues to various colonial cities and towns in the country's interior.

Highlights include Morelia, the capital of Michoacan state. The city overlooks the valley of Guayangareo, famous for its baroque and neoclassic architecture.

The itinerary features the village of Patzcuaro, where several colonial buildings from the 16th century stand. The town, set on Lake Patzcuaro, is known for its mysterious death traditions, cobblestone streets and tiny alleyways.

From Patzcuaro, participants will visit Santa Clara del Cobre, which is filled with workshops and stores displaying copper art and handicrafts. Also featured is an excursion to Janitzio, one of the islands in Lake Patzcuaro that features native craft and a fishing village. Before returning to Mexico, the itinerary includes a stop in the old mining town of Tlalpujahua.

The land-only cost of the program is $990 per person, double, and covers accommodations, most meals, ground transportation, transfers, entry fees and the services of guides. Departures are scheduled for Jan. 14 and 24, Feb. 7 and 21 and March 7 and 21. Guided departures, with a minimum of four passengers, are available any Saturday during the course of the Monarch butterfly migration season.

The special departures carry an additional cost. All trips are limited to 14 participants. For additional details or to make reservations, call (800) 874-8784. Information can be obtained by visiting the firm's Web site at http://www.desocom.com/steppingstone.

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