Journey to Mexico's state of Michoacan, (MEECH-wa-cahn), where you will witness the wintering home of the monarch butterflies in the oyamel forests of the region. The trip begins in colonial Morelia, and continues to Uruapan. Visit the villages of the Meseta Purepecha, and the artisan communities on the shores of Lake Patzcuaro. Finally, you’ll visit the winter home of millions of monarch butterflies that migrate to exactly the same region, year after year. It was not discovered until the 1970’s that the annual southern migration path of the monarchs, east of the Rockies, was to the oyamel fir forests of Michoacan where the butterflies cluster in trees to stay warm and protected from the cold air.
- Day 1: Arrive MoreliaArrive Morelia
Upon your arrival in Morelia, you will be met and transferred to your lovely, centrally located suites-hotel. Enjoy Mexican hot chocolate or other refreshments of your choosing, served local-style, at the open-air portales located across from the Cathedral. This is a perfect setting for receiving your orientation to Michoacan.
- Day 2: MoreliaMurals help tell the story of Michoacan
After breakfast, your Michoacan guide will lead you on on a walking tour of Morelia, the capital of the state and a place where traditions in music, arts and higher education run deep.
The city is a colonial architectural gem with stone streets and plazas, and one exquisite building after another designed around central courtyards and gardens. On the walls of the the inner courtyard of the Government Palace, you’ll find larger-than-life paintings by the famous muralist, Alfredo Zalce, which tell a vibrant story of the people of Michoacan. Today you'll also visit the Cathedral, Temple of the Roses, the former Aqueduct, and the outstanding House of “Artesanias”. This special evening will begin with the viewing of the illuminated Cathedral followed by an impressive welcome dinner at one of Morelia’s top rated restaurants.
- Breakfast, Dinner
- Day 3: El Rosario Butterfly Reserve
Leave the world of art and history behind as you embark on a one of a kind nature trek to witness one of the greatest natural phenomena: the winter migration of the monarch butterfly to the transvolcanic mountains of central Mexico. Every winter, millions of butterflies migrate south to the oyamel fir forests which are found in a very small area of the mountain tops in this region. The nearby trees, streams, underbrush and fog all form an intricate ecosystem which enables the monarch’s survival. It wasn’t until 1975 that scientists first tracked down the monarch’s winter site in Mexico. Before this discovery, the monarch’s winter hideout had been a secret known only to the local villagers
- Breakfast, Lunch
- Day 4: PatzcuaroEnjoy meeting the people of Patzcuaro
In the morning, you will visit one more sanctuary before departing for Patzcuaro. This quaint town lies along the shores of the lake that shares its name. After settling into your hotel, you will have the opportunity to walk around the town, exploring its plazas, churches, and charming cobblestone streets.
- Day 5: Tzintzuntzan
After breakfast, we will visit the ruins of the pre-Hispanic Purepecha empire in Tzintzuntzan, which means “Place of the Hummingbirds.” Little is known about the early Purepecha people, but it is believed that they are descendants of nomadic peoples from northwestern Mexico, known as the Chichimecas. Spend time visiting the present day village and artisans of Tzintzuntzan. From here, we’ll continue with a drive around the lake, stopping at important artisan communities along the way, such as Santa Fe de la Laguna and Erongaricuaro, the first towns established by Vasco de Quiroga, and Tocuaro, known for its traditional wooden mask carvings.
- Day 6: Patzcuaro/Erongaricuaro
Today you’ll travel to the eastern shores of Lake Patzcuaro to visit the master wood mask carvers of Tocuaro, whose masks are renowned throughout Mexico. Jaguars and mythical creatures are depicted in these decorative, ceremonial masks. From here, you’ll travel to the bohemian, colonial town of Erongaricuaro, which has become a hub for area poets, writers, and artists. You’ll walk in its charming plaza and absorb the creative atmosphere before returning to your home base in Patzcuaro, where you’ll have time to roam the cobblestone streets and alleyways.
- Day 7: MoreliaVenture through the colonial city
After a leisurely breakfast you’ll say good by to charming Patzcuaro for your return journey to the capital city, Morelia. Today you can spend more time visiting places that captured your attention on the city tour. The Music Conservatory, Regional History Museum, and Arts and Crafts market are favorite stops. Morelia often has temporary art exhibits to explore as well.
- Breakfast, Lunch
- Day 8: Morelia / Onward
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
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