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“Nature at its best!” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Piedra Herrada Sanctuary

Piedra Herrada Sanctuary
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: A sanctuary for viewing Monarch Butterflies in central Mexico.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Level Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Nature at its best!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 6, 2014

Going to see the monarch butterflies at the sanctuary was an amazing experience. We were 2 adults hiking up and our 18 month old baby in a baby rucksack. We were told by locals as well as the guides that it is a difficult hike and to consider going horseback. We are an active, athletic couple that likes hiking but living at sea level in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, we don't get to do it very often. Even so, the hike was manageable (even with a baby on the back), the hardest thing being the adjustment of hiking at a higher altitude. We went up with 1 guide and were followed by 2 guides with horses for the first 20 minutes, constantly asking if we were sure we didn't want to go up by horse- a little bit too pushy for my liking. Finally they left us alone and we continued up. We paid the $100 MX sanctuary entrance fee. Experiencing the butterflies in their natural habitat was well worth the hour trek up to 3000m, and the hour stay we had with them. There were millions, so many that you can hear loudly the flapping of their wings. The way down was obviously much faster, a quick 30 minutes. Going by foot, we were only required to pay $200 MX to the guide and this was made clear to us from the beginning, when we were also offered to go by horse for $200 MX each. Our only complaint was that the guide explained nothing. We could've just as easily walked up using a map of the trails (which doesn't yet exist). Still, worth the trip as it's one of the few places to witness this amazing migration.

Visited February 2014
Helpful?
3 Thank dponcetaylor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Mexico City, Mexico
Level Contributor
27 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“Be careful!!!! you can be scammed by the locals”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 4, 2014

I really wanted to visit this place, but it´s physically demanding. (2 hours of tough hike that requires a very good shape or a tough horseback ride too (I did the horseback ride and all my body was contracture for 2 days!)
At the end and although I enjoyed myself with the butterflies, I was so mad because I was scammed by the locals that offers you the guide and the rent of horses upon your arrival. First of all, YOU DONT HAVE TO PAY A GUIDE, it´s not mandatory as they say, you can do the hike by yourself; the only thing you actually have to pay is the entrance to the sanctuary (50 MXP - USD 4) that is made after the long hike.
I choose to rent 2 horses for my boyfriend and I and I thought it would be the total cost, but what the locals didn´t tell us is that they would charge you another 200 MXP for a guide that we actually never saw and also we had to pay another MXP 100 for the entrance of the horse owners to the sanctuary too!!!
At the end we ended up paying MXP 800 - USD 60!!! That it´s an outrageous price when it supposed the total price would be MXP 500 - USD 38 with the horses and the entrance to the sanctuary, and without the guide and the horses just USD 8!!!!!
We told the locals about the fact they never told us all the "Additional" expenses that we would have to pay and as we didn’t´ have enough cash, they kept my boyfriend´s watch as guarantee for the payment. We had to come back all our way to Valle de Bravo to get cash and back as there is not an ATM closer.

Visited February 2014
Helpful?
5 Thank DANIELAORTIZM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wichita Falls, Texas
Level Contributor
179 reviews
54 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
“The experience of a lifetime”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 17, 2014

Wow, this place is truly magical. There are so many butterflies that their wings make noise! Be prepared for a hike. I'm in good shape, and I hike HARD for an hour to get to the mountain top where the butterflies are, BUT it was worth it. A guide goes with you, and you can rent a horse if you can't make the hike. It's a tough hike, really up hill, but doable, and well worth it. The butterflies winter there from Nov to March, and they hang in huge clusters, and flutter around everywhere. You have to be really careful not to step on them. You can take a taxi from Valle de Bravo, and then catch a bus back. The buses come by on the hour and it's cheap, 25 pesos to get back to Valle de Bravo. Wear your hiking shoes, take water, and sunscreen, and a hat. It's a moving experience, they are magical.

Visited January 2014
Helpful?
4 Thank Kate T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mexico
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Nice”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 15, 2014

The place is nice and you can see a lot of buterflies, We were not very lucky since there was no sun and we could see them flying.

Note that you have to walk around 3 kilometers up to the place.

Visited December 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank JoelBeB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City
Level Contributor
66 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
“For the strong of back and sure of foot . No frills attached”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 12, 2014

I love this kind of travel...naturally dirty, slightly dangerous, physically demanding and locally authentic.

We devoted a whole day to making this trip from MexicoCity and it was worthwhile. Where else are you going to see millions of butterflies in a remote and basically unregulated location. I can't imagine naturalists would approve of the tourist set up here as the only evidence of boundaries is some yellow police tape demarcating the end of the slick steep muddy ascent.

Do your own research as there are no swanky exhibits on butterflies. And certainly no running water in the bathrooms. This is not a zoo, a museum, a place for young children,the physically unfit and any footware other than deep tread sneakers or hiking boots.

Go before it becomes an antiseptic butterfly zoo. Or before you get too old to make the horseback ride and hiking ( yes you must do both to get to there).

PS we went to the lake town of Valle De Bravo for some street food and high end souvenir shopping afterwards. Do that while you are in the area, it's a lovely quirky town where wealthy residents of Mexico City spend their weekends.

Visited December 2013
Helpful?
3 Thank extinctdu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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