Sierra Chincua Butterfly Sanctuary

Sierra Chincua Butterfly Sanctuary, Central Mexico and Gulf Coast: Address, Sierra Chincua Butterfly Sanctuary Reviews: 4.5/5

Sierra Chincua Butterfly Sanctuary

Sierra Chincua Butterfly Sanctuary
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86 reviews
Very good

Anny N
34 contributions
Feb 2022
The most amazing experience!!!!
I just visited this place with two of my friend and OMG! we loved it!! We were lucky enough to have a sunny day because the butterflies just fly around when the sun is out. We had the most amazing show and will totally go back. The hike is challenging but you can always rent a horse and the views are breathtaking and if you go on a weekend be prepare to find a lot of people but what tourist place can we visit on a weekend without finding people?. We hired a tour guide and if you want someone reliable, on time, super nice and knowledgeable please contact him, His name is Oscar and his phone number is (715) 1272308. This place has a piece of my heart and I will totally be there again!
Written February 23, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Collierville, TN772 contributions
Jan 2020
We went to see the winter home of Monarch butteflies and we were not dissapointed. Clumps of resting Monarchs hung from limbs and covered tree trunks of the Oyemel trees. They warmed as the sun hit them. For us, this did not happen in a huge burst of thousands of butterflies, There were hundreds at a time, first here, then there and they all floated (towards plants with nectar) like wonderful orange snow flakes. The roped off viewing area was a little glade of wildflowers that attracted the butterflies and many people in our group simply sat on the ground and watch for our alloted time there. We were there on a Tuesday and it was not crowded. If you are a visitor to the high altitude of Mexico, please keep that in mind. The half horse ride/half walk up can be hard if your body can't get enough oxygen. Stopping to catch your breath gives you time to look around at the plants and listen to the birds.. Be sure to carry plenty of water. Also a scarf for your nose and mouth when riding the horses because they kick up a fine, powdery dust. The walk down is steep, so if you are aclimated and a frequent hiker you shouldn't have any trouble. At the exit is a complex of souvenir shops--some selling handmade items. You are not pestered here as you are at El Rosario, but there are very young boys who will offer to wipe the dust from your shoes when you return from your hike. Also a group of restaurants. We ate at Maricela's lots of different quesadillas, guacamole, enchiladas, beans, etc with beer or soft drinks. Everything was tasty. Restrooms in another building, 5 pesos for entry and toilet paper.
Written February 19, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Chicago, IL884 contributions
Feb 2013 • Solo
Excellent! This Monarch Butterfly reserve is slightly smaller, but no less spectacular, than it's nearby neighbor, El Rosario. It can be reached by a good paved road from Zitacuaro (Michoacan) by going through both Ocampo and Angangueo. In Ocampo, look for the signs to Angangueo, which are painted on the sides of buildings, usually at roof height. From Angangueo, drive about 7-8 kilometers further north, where a good sign directs you to a small dirt road. From this junction, it is about 1 - 1.5 kilometers more to the parking area. In total, expect to take about 1.25 to 1.5 hours to get here from Zitacuaro. The drive up takes a long time due to the number of topes (speed bumps) along the way, which somehow always seem to be unpainted and hiding in the shade! I believe you can also catch a ride in a pickup truck (camion) from Angangueo to Sierra Chincua, but you should check the tourist office in Angangueo (located near the main square and church) for more information. Parking fee at Sierra Chincua is 30 pesos. The reserve entrance fee is 35 pesos per person, and includes a free guide (tipping is optional and extra). There is a small collection of shops and restaurants clustered around the administration building, which all basically offer the same selection. There are fairly clean bathrooms, for 3 pesos per use. From the administration area, it is about a 3km (45 minute) walk up a well maintained dirt path (see my pictures) to get to the butterfly colony. An alternative to walking up is to take a horse ride, for 75 pesos each way per person. There is a good map at the path entrance (see my pictures) as well as additional signs/maps along the way. The path is a little rocky, but is generally less steep than the path at El Rosario. There are also very good information signs (in Spanish and English, see my pictures) along the way, that help explain the butterflies migration, life and habitat. When you get to the butterfly colony, you may have to walk around in the woods (off path) a little because of where the butterflies have congregated. They are in a roped off area, which you should not enter at any time because of the risk of trampling the butterflies. At the time of my visit, I only saw about 20-25 other visitors, mostly Mexican tourists. Sierra Chincua is generally quieter and less visited then El Rosario, but the colony is also a little smaller. However, I felt like I got a better view of the clusters of butterflies on the trees here compared to El Rosario, because the colony was in a more level part of the forest. I arrived around 10:30 at the colony, and only a few butterflies were starting to flutter around. By 1:00pm, as the day got warmer, they really started to fly away from the trees and maximum flight was probably from 2-3pm The reserve is open from 9am - 4pm. Because of the rocky path, be sure to wear a good pair of hiking shoes. Due to the altitude and your closer proximity to the sun, I recommend wearing sun block or a hat. A light jacket will also come in handing to ward off early morning chills, as well as breezes at the top of the mountain. Be sure to take enough water (available at the administration area) and some snacks since it is a long walk back to the restaurants for lunch. Overall, I think Sierra Chincua is a great place to see the butterflies. It is less visited and much less commercial than El Rosario, with an easier hiking path. It is also a good reserve to visit early in the morning, as you may even get the whole place to yourself (like I did)! Consider visiting mid-week to avoid the biggest crowds. Finally, be careful where you walk to avoid trampling the beautiful butterflies.

Note: see my review of El Rosario for additional information on visiting the Monarch butterfly reserves.

Date of visit: February 5th
Written February 12, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Tallahassee, FL88 contributions
Feb 2020
This is a great place to see monarchs - if you don't mind being herded with many many others (school groups too), some of whom are talking on cell phones and otherwise very loud and noisy. It's a shame but this place is too easily accessible. You can walk or ride a horse. We walked down (parts are loose rock and very slippery) and took a horse back up. Definitely recommend the horse back up!! Wear your hiking boots and watch your footings. Maybe go early in the day to avoid some of the crowds so you can enjoy what you came for - the monarchs.
Written March 2, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

St. Petersburg, FL327 contributions
Feb 2015 • Couples
We visited Sierra Chincua as part of a G Adventure trip. The reserve is close to the El Rosario reserve and the two can easily be combined with a stay in Angangueo. The entrance area is quite developed with rows of permanent vendor stalls and other buildings. The reserve opened at 9am and admission was 45 pesos which includeed a mandatory guide. The trail is not as good as El Rosario and has erosion problems in some areas. It took about 30 minutes to walk up to the butterflies. On the steeper portions the trail has switch-backs which makes the walk easier. Horses are available for 80 pesos each way and they split off from main path once you start to go up the mountain. The horse men seem quite pushy here and don't want to give any change. The weather was chilly and cloudy all morning and the butterflies were all clustered and not very visible. At times the mist came in which made conditions even worse. There were only a few times when masses of butterflies were in the air. The guides took their groups one at a time beyond the roped off area so we were able to get a nice view of the thousands of butterflies clustered on the trees. It was a spectular sight. However, walking in the forest also revealed hundreds or thousands of dead butterflies on the ground. It was also sad to see sawdust, wood chips and dead limbs on the ground from recent wood cutting. Logging changes the microclimate in the forest. The butterflies are there on instinct and die when the conditions vary unexpectedly. We had to leave at noon before the day warmed enough for the butterflies to really move. It would be good to have as much time as possible set aside for a visit. We had an excellent quesadilla lunch and coffee once back at the entrance.

I have read other reviews that say you don't need a guide, and that complain about parking charges or expected tipping. Please remember support of the local residents is essential for the reserves to be protected and the butterflies' survival. Sierra Chincua really evokes dual emotions. On one hand is the pure exhillration from seeing so many butterflies and learning about the most unique insect migration in the natural world. On the other hand, extreme pessimism from seeing the environmental damage and learning that the monarch is headed for extinction at its present rate of decline.
Written May 4, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Riverside, CA91 contributions
Jan 2018
Sierra Chincua was an amazing experience. We headed out from our hotel (Don Gabino) with a local Angangueo guide Oscar at 9 am. Sierra Chincua is very accessible, just north of Angangueo. The pathway was relatively short (maybe 3 miles?) and gently elevated. We rode horses because my daughter loves horses. Any excuse will do to get on a horse. The horse was really unnecessary. The horses take you about halfway to the viewing area this year. The walking path is gently vertical, and you’ll likely feel winded due to the elevation, if you are a sea level resident like us. Bring water. We were the third and fourth person signed in at the entry, and the first group at the viewing area. The butterflies were just starting to awaken and head down the mountain. It was truly a magical experience. Each time the sunlight warmed them sufficiently, a huge group of butterflies would start stretching their wings, so much that the branches would wiggle, and then they would take flight. The roped off observation area is downhill from the butterfly filled oyamel pines, yet the butterflies pass right around and above you as you observe their activity. Several landed on and around us. We lingered about an hour, watching 2 shifts of the sun warming / flying before we moved on to a viewpoint at the very top of the hill. We then headed over to lunch and El Rosario, which was not as magical, due to the time of the afternoon when we arrived waaaaay up the hill at the observation area, after an endless line to get on a horse (the kid cannot pass up a horse), and a hike after the horses that was equal to the Sierra Chincua hike. Then when we arrived, there were hundreds of people lined up at the rope at the end of the trail. We were stopped much further from the butterflies, to protect the butterflies who were lazing all over the pathway in the afternoon sun. Sierra Chincua was by far the better / more intimate nature experience, at least on the day we went. Conditions are super variable. The butterflies move as the season progresses, and from year to year they choose different locations in the preserve. So my advice will soon be out of date. If it is not sunny, don’t go. Wait another day. I’ll add photos once I gather them from my cameras.
Written January 4, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Washington DC, DC17 contributions
Jan 2018 • Family
My sister and I made the trip from Mexico City to Angangueo directly to this reserve. It 100% depends on the weather - if it is cloudy or rainy - you definitely won't be able to see them, so fingers crossed for a sunny day. A local guide named Oscar made our trip so spectacular. From Observatario Station in Mexico City, the direct bus line Excellenica makes the 3.5 hour trip super easy. The bus leaves at 6, 8, 12:30, 2:30, 4:30. It drops you into town, which is basically one long road. THE BEST GUIDE, Oscar Reyes was there to pick us up and took us directly to our hotel, which had given our room away due to the late check in. Hotel Plaza Don Gabino was where we were booked into, but Oscar recommended we stay at Margaritta's Hotel. It was $500 pesos per night for a double room, $70 extra for fire (not really warm) and hot showers were available. I wouldn't recommend this place, though .The charged us the second night, even though we didn't stay due to being an hour past the check out time (We were still seeing the butterflies).

It was cold at night, so definitely bring layers. Oscar was excellent - he charged $800 pesos for 2 persons + went over and beyond to make sure we were comfortable. Very honest guy, with excellent English due to 10 yrs living/working in LA. Happy to showcase his hometown and with alot of knowledge of the butterflies. My sister and I were very, very happy with his service and enjoyed him tremendously!!

his email is and cell +52 7151272308

Tell him we sent you!!
Enjoy the butterflies. We went early in the am around 8 :30 before any of the crowds, didn't rent a horse and enjoyed the butterflies for quite some time!! Overall, such a great trip!
Written January 27, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Mazatlan, Mexico452 contributions
Nov 2016 • Friends
We visited the reserve on 20/11/16 at around 1pm. Perfect timing since the sun had come out and it was warm so the monarchs were flying high above us throughout our hike to their wintering spot. To see the monarchs flying its best to arrive in the early afternoon as the temperature is warmer and the butterflies more likely to be flying about.

The hike is about 3 km to where the monarchs are clustered in some trees. The walking trail is wide and in very good condition, there aren't a lot of rocks or ruts to stumble over and the slopes are not uncomfortably steep. According to locals this is the easiest and far less crowded reserve.

We drove to the reserve and found the "tour guides" on the main road at the entrance to be incredibly annoying. There is no sign marking the entrance to the reserve, the guides on the road will direct you to the entrance. You drive down a gravel road where you will find a Federal Police training area and there pay 40 pesos for parking, again you will be offered a guide. Do not take this guide, continue on to the main parking area which is another 2 or 3 km down a dirt road.

The entry fee is 45 pesos per person and you will be assigned a guide. We had a lovely, young woman who accompanied us along the hike and answered our questions, we both speak Spanish. Tip the guide, these people are locals and this is the time of year when they earn most of their money.

You will be offered a horse but it isn't necessary and the horses can only go about half way to where the monarchs are clustered. All of the horses we saw were in good condition, patient, the owners are locals and very friendly. Be sure to tip these guys if you use a horse.

Be prepared for your hike by wearing sturdy shoes and dress in warm layers.
Written November 21, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Antony I
14 contributions
Jan 2017 • Couples
We stayed at Don Bruno hotel in Angangueo and arranged for a guide to take us there cost 650 pesos. The drive was 20 minutes through hilly wooded countryside to Sierra Chincua. There was an entrance fee of 45 pesos each, then we walked a short distance to a meadow with horses and gauchos. We mounted our horses and rode for 20 minutes then dismounted and walked a further 15 minutes to where the Monarchs were covering several trees in immense quantities. When the sun came out many of them opened their wings and flew about. There were millions of them that just stayed on the branches and trunks with their wings closed. We stayed about 20 minutes and took masses of photos and videos. Then reversed our way back to the original meadow and payed for the use of the horses 600 pesos for three horses as our guide had one also.
We had planned to go to another site the next day but felt that we had had the experience we were after and that there was no sense in going to anther reserve. We feel very satisfied that we can chalk up another bucket list experience and would heartily recommend it to any one interested in the wonders of nature.
Written January 19, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Vancouver, Canada163 contributions
Feb 2019 • Couples
We took a private tour from Zihuatanejo with Carlos - He usually does a 3 day tour from Zihua but we took 5 to experience many of the other surrounding gems.
The butterfly sanctuary was the last and best stop on what was already an amazing journey. We were staying in Morelia so it was a two hour plus drive just to the sanctuary where we picked up a guide (compulsory) then climbed on a couple of horses (250 pp return) for a 2 km ride further up the mountain. This is where you leave the horses and climb the last 1km loop through the top of the sanctuary where the colonies live. What a magical experience - you are to visit in silence, don’t touch nor use flash and the guides are very good at gently reminding those that “forget”. It all helps to keep the magical experience of thousands and thousands, hundreds of thousands butterflies floating in the sky and resting on the trees and drinking in the water. Incredible!!
Upon returning to the main entrance again walking to where the horses are and going the final 2km by horse they have an area where you can have lunch and marvel at your experience and what you have seen before your journey back to Morelia.
If you are anywhere near Zihuatanejo (we travelled from Acapulco) Carlos is your man to see this amazing spectacle!
Not to be missed.
Written March 3, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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