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“Monarch Butterfly Santuary! 3 hours from Mexico City !”

Piedra Herrada Sanctuary
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6-Night Monarch Butterfly Migration from Mexico City
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Owner description: A sanctuary for viewing Monarch Butterflies in central Mexico.
Reviewed May 28, 2012

A don't miss adventure of a lifetime if you want to see Monarchs. Walk/Ride a Horse up the mountain to where the Monarchs overwinter. A very beautiful and humbling experience. Piedra Herrada has a homey feel to it, not commercial. This was our second visit here. Our favorite guides were Santa and cousin Cezar but they are all good. Enjoy...

3  Thank Skippyfrizz W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 18, 2012

We decided to take a gamble and visited the sanctuary in the 3rd weekend of March. Fortunately, there was great weather and there were still butterflies that were around. They were saying that there weren't many butterflies around, but for me it was still a sight. You can't get too close to any butterflies cos they tend to flutter up above the trees, and ironically those you can get close to on the ground are either dead or dying. I've read many sites about making the trip around 9am, but we started at 12noon and arrived at the butterflies site at 1pm and it was perfect because it got much warmer and there was more activity then. Just stand there in silence and watch them flutter across the sky, that's the best memory you can take away...

The hike up is difficult and not well signed, so I'd suggest you take the horse ride which costs MXN 120. Do tip the horse guide since he walking just as fast as the horse on both the hike up and down the rather rough terrain!

Instructions on how to get there for independent travelers/ drivers are scare, but here's the route we took and it worked out for us. The sanctuary is located south of Valle de Bravo. If you are driving from Toluca/ Mexico City, the best to do is to get on the Carretera 134/ Toluca Ciudad Altamirano highway. This highway is toll free, and for first timers it's a scenic (though windy) ride through the Parque Nacional de Toluca. Right after you pass the town San Francisco Oxtotilpan (you won't miss it because you'll see a PEMEX gas station on your right, one of the first in many miles within the national park), there is a tiny slip road that leads you to Valle de Bravo. The sign is also blocked by trees, so do slow down. From here, it's a 7-8 km drive towards Valle de Bravo before you hit the sanctuary, which will be on your right. You'll first pass the huge parking lot for the sanctuary before the entrance. But make sure you signal because cars on this stretch tend to drive quite fast and most of them quite impatient!

6  Thank travel-bitten-shark
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 17, 2012

This bio-reserve is home to millions of Monarch butterflies every winter after their annual migration from Canada and Northern USA. You can rent horses if you don't fancy the uphill climb of about 40 mins as the Monarchs are found in trees fairly high up in pine forest. The whole thing costs about 200 pesos which includes entrance, horse with guy to walk with the horse and guide to give you all the facts about these fascinating creatures.
All I can say is if you get a chance then GO! It's amazing to see the natural wonder of so many butterflies all clumped together in the upper reaches of tall pines. They swarm around above your heads and sit glinting in the sunshine on trees and plants. We went mid-March by which time the colony has diminished somewhat, apparently December-January is peak season, but there were still millions of large black/red beauties to simply gawp at.
We will definitely be back next year, maybe a bit earlier in the season, to see the great grandsons/daughters of the butterflies we saw this time.

2  Thank michaelmurphy1971
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 27, 2012

If you grew up with monarch butterflies (monarcas mariposa) you will especially appreciate seeing them, by the thousands, in their winter home. Don't miss it.

1  Thank tutchone
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 9, 2012

Simply one of the wonders of the world everyone must see. Every year, starting by November, millions (literally) of monarch butterflies arrive to the forest of Central Mexico. They leave us by March. Two mexican states share the visit of the fragile insects: Estado de Mexico and Michoacan. All along the border between these two states, several sanctuaries have been opened to the public, being Piedra Herrada just one of them, although all are very good. Remember it´s all about nature so nobody can predict the exact location and the amounts of butterflies in every sanctuary. So be prepared for a long walk in the woods and, if you come from low altitude place, take one or two days to get used to altitudes above 3000 meters above the sea level. If you´´re not in good physical condition, there are horses for rent available, so don´t worry. These sanctuaries are managed by the local communities. You have to be accompanied by a local guide all the time. Don´t expect them to speak in English. If you are traveling with another guide, s/he will certainly explain to you what the local guide says.
When you get to the place where the butterflies are, possibly after one hour walk or ride, you´ll start watching the trees and their branches fully covered by agglomerated butterflies. If it´s a sunny day, it´s very likely to see them flying all around you. Something hard to describe, even with pictures or video. In some areas, you´ll see a carpet made of lots of dead butterflies in the ground, that have fallen from the trees or because of low temperatures. Many of them could still be alive, so be careful. Sometimes, you can see the paths in the woods full of butterflies flying towards water sources for drinking or coming back. They even cross the highways and when that happens, there is people located at both ends of the way, asking you to reduce your vehicle speed.
This is one of the great events in nature to witness, that I don´t consider a "once in a lifetime experience". Why only once???!!!

5  Thank CometoMexico
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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