Monarch Butterflies - Sierra Chincua - M

The butterfly said to the sun,"They can't stop talking about my transformation. I can only do it once in my lifetime.
If only they know they can do it at any time and in countless ways."



Monarch Journey to La Ruta Don Vasco


  • Complimentary Covid Kit includes hand sanitizer, locally made face mask, chap stick, kleenex, hand wipes & lysol wipes


  • We understand tipping is not universal, but in Mexico, it is customary.  Please offer 10-20% to your waiters and guides.


This itinerary is scheduled from Mexico City, but can be altered for guests living in Guanajuato, Michoacan and Guerrero States.  This itinerary can also be designed to deliver guests to a different destination, for example, for guests arriving in Mexico City who wish to depart from Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, San Miguel de Allende, Guadalajara etc.  Please contact us for more information 


Depending on your location, we may alter the order of activities and day trips.  


  • 2 Nights at Agua Blanca Resort in Jungapeo

  • 2 Nights in the UNESCO Historical Centro of Morelia

  • 3 Nights in the Pueblo Magico of Patzcuaro

  • Visit Sierra Chincua Monarch Butterfly Reserve

  • Explore the glass-blowing village of Tlalpujahua

  • Enjoy the historical buildings of Morelia's centro

  • Wander the enchanting streets of Patzcuaro

  • Tour endearing villages and purchase directly from local artists

  • Option to climb Paricutin Volcano

  • Option for cooing class with Samantha Lopez of Santo Huacal

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Monarch Butterflies - Sierra Chincua - M

Sacred Migration


The worlds most phenomenal migration is often described as that of the Monarch Butterflies, who winter in the mountains of Michoacan and Mexico State.  The incredible feat of these insects, to travel between central Canada and Mexico is mesmerizing, and took decades of research to learn about, given incomplete scientific data about this incredible migration.

Unlike the homing instinct of wild Pacific salmon of the Northwest Coast, who return to their ancestral birth streams, the Monarch butterflies pose an even more bewildering conduct, as the migration is multi-generational - meaning the butterflies who return to Mexico each winter, are not the same butterflies who left - but are the descendants of a prior generation.  That the genetic memory guides them back to the same reserves for winter, and breeding grounds for summer, is something scientist are still studying.


We offer butterfly tours during the months of November through March, and are pleased to work with Soil Expert, Dr. Pablo Jaramillo Lopez on special eco-science fundraisers, which include a dinner presentation about this sacred migration, and scientist-led tour to the Sierra Chincua reserve.  Please contact us for more information about our "Hope for the Monarchs" fundraisers in January and February 2021.

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Day 1


This morning, we will meet at your hotel in Mexico City by 7:30, with transport to late Anthony Bourdain's cherished restaurant, Fonda Margaritas.  Here we will enjoy breakfast among the locals, before departing the city for Agua Blanca Resort in Jungapeo.

Spend the day relaxing here, enjoying the temperate, thermal mineral pools and beautiful gardens.  

Jungapeo is a resort, so all meals are included here.  There is a temazcal sweat lodge in the evening, but this truly is a lovely place to just step-back from the hectic pace of working life - for some much needed R&R.

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Day 2


The beauty of staying in Jungapeo, besides the beautiful medicinal spring waters, is the fact that we are only a one hour commute from the Sierra Chincua Butterfly Reserve.  Most butterfly tours originate in the cities of Morelia or Patzcuaro, which require a 3+ hour commute each way.  With only a 1 hour commute back to Jungapeo, we are able to sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast, and visit the colony in the warmest part of the day - which is when the butterflies leave their clusters and fly freely about the reserve.  If we depart the reserve by 3 PM, we still have enough time to enjoy the thermal spring waters upon returning to Agua Blanca Resort.


If you are not interested in swimming, we can arrange to take you to the ancient city of San Felipe Alzati, an archaeological site that is seldom visited.

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Departing Jungapeo after breakfast, we will head for the Pueblo Magico of Cuitzeo del Porvenir for the afternoon.  Here, we will visit the Monastery and small "Indian" Church, which was constructed to segragate indigenous populations from the Spanish, during colonization.

From Cuitzeo del Porvenir, we will make our way to the UNESCO Historical centro of Morelia, where we will check into our hotel and rest before dinner.

Dinner reservations are for 7 PM.


Day 3


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The capital of the state of Michoacán, Morelia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is often referred to in Mexico as the "Aristocrat of Colonial Cities." The title is well earned; the delicate pink quarry-stone structures are just as majestic today as they were in the 16th century.


Founded in 1541 by the first viceroy of New Spain, Antonio de Mendoza, the city was named Valladolid, after Mendoza's birthplace in Spain. The name was changed to Morelia, after Jose Maria Morelos, following the Declaration of Independence. Today it is a modern, vibrant city with a historic heart and a youthful spirit.


Some of the key structures here include the oldest musical conservatory in the Americas, the second largest cathedral in Mexico, the gold-encrusted Sanctuary of Guadalupe, the famous aqueduct, the P'urhepecha Fountain and countless more. There are over 200 protected buildings in the centro of this powerful, masculine city.

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Day 4


This morning, we will enjoy breakfast before heading out on a lovely walking tour of Morelia.  Our tour will begin with the bustling and colourful Independencia Mercado, followed by a leisurely walk-about the city centro.

Our walking tour will include lunch and other beverage breaks, for those who tire easily.  We will cover the Aqueduct, Sanctuary of Our Lady Guadalupe, the Calzada, Alley of Romance, and through the city streets to the centro Cathedral, which is the second largest in all of Mexico.

Our tour will conclude at the Dulce Mercado, when we will break away for free time.  

Dinner Reservations are for 7 PM.

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Day 5


Our journey today will take us on a wonderfully colourful experience, as we meander our way through art villages enroute for the Pueblo Magico of Patzcuaro.

We will visit the Catrina town of Capula, including Juan Torres Studio and a lovely pottery collective.  We will feast at Chef Diego's Los Molcajetes in Quiroga, then explore the unusual Yacatas of Tzintzuntzan, which was the ancient capital of the P'urepecha Empire.  

After exploring the Convent of Santa Ana, and visiting local ceramicist, Manuel Morales, we will depart Tzintzuntzan for the embroidery studio of Teofila Servin in Sanabria.

From Sanabria, Patzcuaro is only about 20 mins.  Check into your hotel by 5 PM, and head for dinner by 7 PM.
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La Catrina


The Catrina has become an iconic symbol of Dia de los Muertos, though her history is rather complex. Originating with print-maker, cartoonist and lithographer Jose Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) of Aguascalientes, La Catrina was Posada’s satirical critique of native Mexicans who impoverished themselves at the expense of aspiring to European aristocracy. Politically, Jose Guadalupe Posada’s satires were critiques of Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz, whose reign created polar extremes between the wealthy and impoverished. While Diaz is praised for contributing to the financial stability of Mexico through modernization, he was also materialistic, corrupt and quite obsessed with European excesses. This era is important in the history of Mexico, as it sparked the 1910 rebellion that ended Diaz’s rule in 1911, while igniting the Mexican Revolution.


The most famous calavera sketch, La Calavera Garbancera, shows a woman dressed in her chapeau en attende, or European style hat. Presented as “Skull of the female stripper who is married to a Dandy,” the leaflet describes her as being embarrassed of and in denial of her indigenous identity.

Posada died in poverty in 1913, and wasn’t recognized until the 1920’s. La Calavera Garbancera remained relatively obscure until Diego Rivera completed his famous mural, Sueno de una Tarde Dominical en la Alameda Central (Dream of a Sunday afternoon along Central Alameda). This mural includes iconic Mexicans from over a 400 year period, including Benito Juarez, Father Hidalgo, Jose Guadalupe Posada, Frida Kahlo, and Diego Rivera himself. In this mural, Rivera included La Catrina, and created her with a full figure, in an elegant dress. His addition of a feather serpent boa,  emblematic  of  the Aztec goddess Mictecacihuatl, not only connected La Catrina to the ancient indigenous origins Posada was originally alluding to, but also presented her as a woman who is proud of her heritage. This clever interpretation focused less on the shame and poverty presented by Posada’s original piece, and instead depicted indigenous peoples as an elegant, beautiful culture that is proud and important. The use of La Catrina in this mural also informs the viewer that no matter our beauty, pride, wealth or importance, death happens to all of us – and that in the end, we are all equal - with perhaps, the exception of La Catrina, who continues to live on. This is a prodigious statement, as the mural itself tells a story about Mexico that not only includes the victors, corrupt leaders, oppressors, leaders and heroes - but ultimately humanizes the indigenous narrative by illustrating their survival in spite of Spanish Colonial rule.


La Catrina's presence in Rivera's Sueno de una Tarde Dominical en la Alameda Centra is exceptionally political, and is perhaps the reason why La Catrina became inseparable from Mexican iconography - for she is the only fictional character out of 400, smiling at the audience from her central position. The fact that she is holding Diego Rivera's hand speaks to the artists' intention to make her the most important character of all.

Rivera’s mural was painted between 1946-47, and was originally at the end of Alameda Park. During the 1985 earthquake that shook much of Mexico City to her foundations, the mural miraculously survived while everything fell down around her. The mural is now housed in the Museo Mural Deigo Rivera, across the street from the original location.


Posada's decision to represent an indigenous woman as a calavera certainly connected her to the ancient death rituals predominant in the ancient empires of Mexico, which is likely why La Catrina is most celebrated during Dia de los Muertos celebrations, despite her being just over 100 years old.


Following Diego Rivera's depiction of Catrina came the next artistic response to Posada's original idea. Born in Morelia, Michoacan Mexico on July 4, 1942, prolific Maestro Juan Torres studied at the Popular School of Fine Arts, and with Maestro Alfredo Zalce. Working in various mediums from paint to sculpture, it was 1982 when Torres first began delving into work with clay.


Juan Torres has spent his career exploring the image of the female, in ways that free women from traditional sexism. With a love for women, and a fascination with subjects relating to death, it isn't surprising that Torres would be the first to create Catrina in the third dimension, out of clay. The location of his established studio, La Candelaria, couldn’t have been more perfect, as the surrounding town of Capula has a long-standing tradition of potters predating Spanish Colonialism. It didn’t take long for these potters to mimic these clay Catrina figures – and the shops of Capula exploded with a brand new tradition that has since become an emblem of the town.


Installation by Jesus Alexandre

Photographed in Spain

It wasn’t until 2012 when La Catrina would evolve from the visual & handicraft arts, to one that begged for audience participation in the form of a performing arts installation. Having embarked on a journey of mysticism with an indigenous shaman, Uruapan artist Jesus Alexandre was called to create a series of art installations that would later become an important body of work entitled “Dia de los Muertos: A Human Celebration of Life.” His first installation, Esto es Vida, includes the family of his friend and shaman, and was created in response to a peyote induced vision. Alexandre went on to create a public installation that called for 51 participants, all clad in fancy outfits and painted faces.


It was at this time, Alexandre conceptualized an ever-evolving Catrina – which began by reaching back prior to Posada's 1913 La Calavera Garbancera, in order to explore pre-Hispanic indigenous relationships with life and death. From pre-Hispanic origins, Alexandre has since brought La Catrina forward, transcending the French-loving, extravagant and materialistic Catrina, to one we can all relate to. In the Fall of 2017, Alexandre would take this concept to Europe, where he created 4 major installations in Spain, as well as smaller installations in the Netherlands, Germany and Austria.


And just like that –La Catrina left Mexico to turn heads around the world.




Rising up from a high point overlooking the quiet village of Tzintzuntzan stands these ancient P'urhepecha ruins. Some say this was the second capital, after it was moved from Ihatzio, and some say this was always the capital of the powerful P'urhepecha Empire - an empire so powerful, they managed to not only resist defeat by the Mexica, but to also deeply assault their invaders between 1450 and 1521.

Archaeologists agree the P'urhepecha were able to inflict heavy injury on Mexica invaders due to their metallurgy skills - something the Mexica did not possess. As the P'urhepecha were able to construct metal weapons, their warriors were better armed than those who came to attack. The P'urhepecha were so confident about their military advantages, when Mexica warriors were sent to warn about Cortes, the P'urhepecha killed the messengers and ignored the warning.

Nuno de Guzman arrived at Tzintzuntzan in 1529. Later deemed a war criminal, one of Guzman's first assaults involved burning King Tangaxuan II alive, before dismantling the ancient city. The Spanish looted the ancient city, carting off stones which were used to construct Roman Catholic Churches and buildings, the most famed of which is the 16th century Franciscan Monastery of Santa Ana.


Today, few remnants of the Empire remain - though it is still worth the time to explore what is here. The rounded construction of the Yacatas are unusual and mark the burial tombs of kings.


Construction of the Convent of Santa Ana began in 1570, by the Franciscan Order of the Catholic Church under the Spanish architect Fray Pedro de Pila. The architecture is baroque in style, and the grounds include two churches, open chapels, and some of the more intriguing evidence of iconic images that were utilized for immersion in Biblical teachings of Christ.  


There are four sacred buildings to explore, including the Church of San Francisco, which features frescoes and Moorish panels. This was used exclusively by the Franciscan Monks. There are two open chapels, and the Church of La Soledad, which is of great importance to the locals. According to Mexican beliefs, the "Santo Entierro" (or wax sculpture of Christ in a glass casket) is very sacred, as the legs and arms are growing. There is an extension at the foot-end of the casket, as well as Mexican and American currency within. The locals come here to pray for their loved ones, most especially children who are sill or who have died. One will see many children's toys, clothes, photographs and notes left here as prayers for healing miracles.

The Image shows the stone wall that fences the grounds where the convent stands.  Note the hieroglyphic symbols etched into the stones, which are evidence that the construction materials  for the convent and wall were comprised of stolen temple stones from the P'urepecha capital.

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Teofila Servin


Born on July 20, 1966 in the small Michoacan village of Tzintzuntzan, Teofila Servin grew up watching her mother embroider.  Though she began to learn basic stitches as a child, it wasn't until she was 16 that she began to create more complicated pieces.


Working behind the scenes, it is Teofila's husband who has created the countless designs she then embroiders onto various canvases.  Teo creates small and large pieces, from napkins and tea towels, patches and pillowcases to purses, blouses, pictures, rebozos and large-scale wall hangings. 

38 year later, Teofila has shown her work in international textile exhibitions in Mexico and the US, has won over 60 awards, and has sold to private collectors from around the world.

If you are interested in pieces by this artist, please contact us for more information - or book at tour to visit her in Sanabria, Michoacan Mexico.

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Day 6


This morning we will depart Patzcuaro by 9 AM for the boat docks.  Boarding our vessel, the cruise to Janitzio only takes about 1/2 hour.

Arriving on the legendary island of Janitzio, be prepared to climb!  This quirky, touristy town is a lot of fun for anyone who loves to shop. The island itself is a series of winding staircases that seem to never end, as you climb up past cafe’s, handicrafts stores, restaurants, clothing stores, and more restaurants and shops - until you reach the statue of Jose Maria Morelos.

Construction of the Morelos statue began in 1933, and is an incredible gallery of murals painted by Ramon Alba de la Canal and other famous muralists from around Mexico, who illustrated the history of Morelos life.


The cemetery of Janitzio is very famous, due to this being a central location of Dia de los Muertos, which Lake Patzcuaro is most famed for.  

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Jose Maria Morelos

SEPT. 30, 1765 - DEC 22, 1815

Born in Valladolid (later named Morelia in his honor) on September 30, 1765, Jose Maria Morelos was a Roman Catholic priest and rebel during the Mexican War of Independence. Following the execution of Hidalgo, Miguel and Costilla in 1811, Morelos partnered with Ignacio Lopez Rayon to assume leadership of the war of independence.

Morelos had a vision for the future of Mexico, as an independent nation that was void of racial discrimination, slavery and torture. Fondly called ‘Generalissimo,” and “Your Highness,” Morelos rejected such superior titles, humbly requesting instead to be referred to as “Servant of the Nation.”

Morelos was captured by the Spanish royalist military in November 1815. He was tried by the Inquisition, renounced of cleric title and found guilty of treason. He was executed on December 22, 1815. Following his execution, his lieutenant, Vincent Guerrero, assumed leadership for the war of independence.

Though Morelos lived his life as a priest, and never officially joined the military, he is regarded as a national hero and legendary military leader. The city of Morelia was named in his honour, as was the State of Morelos.

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Day 7


Enjoy your last day exploring the majestic city of Patzcuaro.  Today is a free day to explore the wonderful galleries and enjoy the parks, and people-watch.

Alternately, if you have spent a lot of time in Patzcuaro, or would prefer to book a tour for this day please contact us about available excursions for this day.  We can arrange an art workshop, cooking class, or adventure around the Lake Patzcuaro regio - including a hike to Paricutin Volcano, depending on how ambitious you are.

Dinner reservations at 7 PM. 

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Day 8


This morning we will check out of our hotel and hit the road for Santa Clara del Cobre by 9 AM.  Heading for the town centre, we will enjoy a copper demonstration to learn how the maestro's of this town create countless objects and art pieces from copper, most of which is upcycled from recovered copper wire and other melted-down pieces.

From Santa Clara del Cobre, we will head to Rancho la Mesa for lunch overlooking Lake Patzcuaro, with Isla de Janitzio in the distance.

The commute to the Pueblo Magio Tacamabaro is approximately 1 hour from Rancho la Mesa.  Upon arriving, you will have the option of relaxing at Quinta Sauz Hotel & Spa, or exploring the town centro.

We will enjoy dinner at the resort at 7 PM, and enjoy a quiet evening.