NEW JERSEY AUDUBON
FEBRUARY 23 - MARCH 1, 2018
The Cape May Monarch Monitoring Project staff set up this tour, run through its parent organization the New Jersey Audubon Society. We visited three of the four publicly accessible monarch butterfly sanctuaries. All are located high in the transvolcanic mountain range of central Mexico, a little over 100 miles west of Mexico City.
Our trip started and ended with a night in Mexico City and a chance to see some of the city sights.
The first sanctuary we visited was Sierra Chincua. Here’s the view from along the trail, at over 10,000 feet elevation.
Estela Romero guided us at each of the sanctuaries.
One can walk or rent a horse to reach the area where the monarchs are found.
The foot trail starts off by crossing a meadow, while the horse path goes through the forest.
The day was relatively warm, about 60 degrees, so many butterflies had wings open to bask in the sunlight.
We walked for a little over an hour to reach the spot where monarchs were seen.
We visited Sierra Chincua on a Sunday, when there were lots of visitors, mostly Mexicans who were excited to see one of their country's greatest natural spectacles. The young boy on the right was thrilled when a monarch flew right onto his hand.
Estella then gave us a fabulous guided tour of her home town, Angangueo.
The next day we visited the El Rosario Sanctuary.
The excellent trail here was lined with wildflowers.
We saw Red Warblers here!
It was a warm, sunny day at El Rosario, and many monarchs were active, getting water from wet meadow grass and filling the air as they flew around.
In just a week or two they would begin their journeys back to the US and Canada.
The third Sanctuary we visited was Cerro Pelón, least developed and least frequently visited of the butterfly sanctuaries. We were required to climb up the mountain on horseback here. The horses were very calm, walking slowly, each one guided by a handler on foot.
The monarchs were a little further away here, across a small ravine, but the views were still spectacular, and there were very few other visitors.
Our trip wrapped up with a visit to the Teotihuacan pyramids.
Here's a photo of our whole group. Thanks for coming along!