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Dates:  January  & February TBA

Group Size:  10-14

Age Group:  19+

We can create a private tour for your family or group.  Please contact us for more information.


An Eco-Science Fundraiser for Research

Join Soul of Mexico Tours and award winning scientist Dr. Pablo F Jaramillo Lopez for a once in a lifetime eco-science adventure. Hike through the Mexican Oyamel forests of Sierra Chincua Biosphere to visit the colonies of millions of monarch butterflies whose phenomenal migration between Canada, the US and Mexico has inspired and intrigued scientists for decades.

Dr. Jaramillo studied agriculture in his native country of Ecuador before   completing  his   doctorate   in  biology  at  the  University  of 

Western Ontario in Canada. His dissertation research focused on reusing human byproducts (organic residues) to create a soil amendment to improve soil conditions for agricultural and forestry applications.  


In Ontario, Dr. Jeremy McNeil introduced Dr. Jaramillo to the incredible monarch butterfly migration that originates there. Dr. McNeil    encouraged    Dr. Jaramillo    to   apply   for a   postdoctoral

fellowship at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Dr. Jaramillo’s postdoctoral led him to his current position in the department of agroecology at the Research Institute  for  Ecosystems


and Sustainability at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Morelia, Michoacan.

Having worked with late etymologist, Dr. Lincoln Brower, who made the monarch butterfly migration known worldwide, Dr. Jaramillo has a unique perspective on monarch butterfly biology and conservation. His philosophy is that the local people must be educated about the relationship between the monarchs and the forest where they live, as a means for safeguarding the health of the butterfly forest, which has been threatened by illegal logging. Dr. Jaramillo’s postdoctoral project was a turning point in his life. The project focused on improving the soil ecosystem for more efficient reforestation practices in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. During the process, Dr. Jaramillo collaborated with an indigenous community that lives inside the Reserve. Through the project, 94% seedling survival rates were achieved, and the forest ecosystem was restored in just four years. Collaborating with local communities and promoting their well-being is the only way to effectively conserve the forest ecosystem that monarchs choose as their overwintering grounds, as it has curbed deforestation and rendered new economic means for former loggers. This project earned Dr. Jaramillo the 2014 Pollinator Advocate Award which has encouraged local efforts to continue finding ways to conserve the forests that host monarch butterflies during the winter.

Visiting the monarch butterfly overwintering colonies with Dr. Jaramillo is a wonderful experience not only focused on learning more about these incredible insects but also to see how all of us can help conserve and protect these iconic winged creatures.

This fundraiser will help Dr. Jaramillo fund his research. A small portion will also be donated to Butterflies & their People


PLEASE NOTE:  Out of respect for the local Mexicans and all of our guests, proof of Covid-19 Vaccination is required for our tours.  Thank you for your cooperation

Michoacan Mexico

Our Eco-science experience begins in the UNESCO capital of Michoacan, Morelia.  Serviced by an international airport, Morelia can also be accessed by bus or private vehicle from Zihuatanejo, Lake Chapala, Guadalajara, Guanajuato City, San Miguel de Allende, Queretaro, and Mexico City.  From Morelia, we will travel by private van to the Sierra Chincua Biosphere, where we will enjoy special lodgings at Agua Blanca Resort in Jungapeo, near Zitacuaro.  If you are flying through Mexico City, we can arrange your transport back to the airport from Jungapeo, as it is much closer than back-tracking to Morelia.

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Presentation & Destinations



Morelia, Michoacan:  Sunday January 9, 2022

Jungapeo, Michoacan: Monday January 10, 2022

Morelia, Michoacan:  Tuesday January 11, 2022


Morelia, Michoacan:  Sunday February 13, 2022

Jungapeo, Michoacan: Monday February 14, 2022

Morelia, Michoacan:  Tuesday February 15, 2022

Morelia - Sanctuary of Our Lady Guadalup




quick facts

State:  Michoacan

Location:  Central Mexico

Altitude:  1920 Meters / 6400 Feet

Founded:  Nahua Culture 7th Century 
P'urepecha Culture 12th Century
Matlatzincas Culture 12th-15th Century
Spanish 1525-1526 under Gonzalo Gomez

UNESCO Designation:  1991

Economy:  Tourism, Education, Production of cooking oil, flour, cement, plastics, bottling and candies

Seat Population:  743,275 (2020)

Name: From 1545 to 1828 formerly called Valladolid.  It was changed to Morelia to honor Jose Maria Morelos following Mexico's War of Independence.



Day One:  Sunday January 9, 2021 / Sunday February 13, 2021

City Location:  Morelia, Michoacan

Today we meet in Morelia, and will begin our tour with a dinner presentation at Morelia's top rated restaurant, Cielo Cocina Fusion.  Enjoy a special five-course meal, and a fascinating visual presentation about the Monarch Butterflies by Dr. Pablo Jaramillo Lopez.  We will have a discussion following dinner, so guests can ask questions and discuss ways in which we can all participate in guarding our precious environment for fragile habitats.  


Dinner is included

Beverages are separate

Please tip the staff

Cielo Cocina Fusion
El Rosario - Monarch Butterfly Cluster

TO the 

quick facts

States:  Michoacan & Mexico State

Location:  Eastern Michoacan

Altitude:  2400-3600 Meters / 7874-11,811 Feet

UNESCO Designation:  2008

Public Reserves:  El Rosario, Sierra Chincua, Cerro Pelon, Herradura & La Mesa


Day Two:  Monday January 10, 2022 / Monday February 14, 2022

City Location:  Jungapeo, Michoacan

This morning we will depart Morelia early for the Sierra Chincua Biosphere.  The commute takes approximately 3.5 hours to the park entrance.  Dr. Pablo Jaramillo will lead our group into the biosphere.  For those who have concerns with the high altitude, you may choose to horseback ride, but please be aware that you will still have to walk for about 20 - 30 mins, depending on where the Monarchs are.  Once we return to the parking lot, we will have an elegant charcuterie picnic before heading to Agua Blanca Resort in Jungapeo.  Here, we will have enough time to soak in the temperate, medicinal spring waters before dinner.  The pools here are drained by nightfall for cleaning.  If enough guests are interested, we can organize a Temazcal (sweat lodge) for those who are interested.

Breakfast is included

Charcuterie Picnic is included

Dinner is included

Scientist-led tour is included

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quick facts

State:  Michoacan
Location:  Eastern Michoacan
Altitude:  1,463 Meters / 4800 Feet
Founded:  P'urepecha Culture
Economy:  Tourism
Seat Population:  21,548 (2015)
Name: Jungapeo is a Chichimeca word that means "Yellow Place."


Day Three:  Tuesday January 11, 2022 / Tuesday February 15, 2022

City Location:  Morelia, Michoacan

This morning we will depart Agua Blanca Resort following breakfast, and head into Mexico's most populated Monarch reserve.  The climb to the sanctuary is long and steep, so guests may wish to ride by horseback.  The number of butterflies that dwell in this particular space is bewildering, and though the site may be busier than our experience at Sierra Chincua, the clusters are truly amazing to see.  

We will depart El Rosario for lunch in Tlalpujahua for a chance to explore.  Though famed as Mexico's Christmas town, the Pueblo Magico of Tlalpujahua is a picturesque and interesting village to see.  We will return to Morelia on time for supper.

Breakfast & Lunch Included

Scientist led tour included

Dinner is separate


If you are flying out of Mexico City, or traveling to Guanajuato/Queretaro State and do not want transport back to Morelia, please contact us ahead of time so we can assist you with arrangements.  Some of you may be heading to Zihuatanejo or other parts of the coast, which we recommend for the following day for daylight travel.

Thank you for participating in this fundraiser for Butterfly Research!  We hope you will join us again!

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Monarch Butterfly Sanctuaries

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Monarch Butterflies - Sierra Chincua - Michoacan - Mexico (25)

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Monarch Butterflies - Sierra Chincua - Michoacan - Mexico (11)

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Angangueo - Jennifer Bjarnason
Angangueo - Jennifer Bjarnason

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Monarch Butterflies - Sierra Chincua - Michoacan - Mexico (25)
Monarch Butterflies - Sierra Chincua - Michoacan - Mexico (25)

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Is this Tour for You?

This is an educational tour that raises money for Monarch Butterfly Research.  To have the opportunity to visit the reserves with a knowledgeable doctor of soil-science who has spent years conducting research here, is unlike any other currently on offer.  


Respect Local Customs

Please respect our departure times, so our schedule remains fluid.  We ask guests to switch up the seating arrangements in the van, so everyone has an opportunity to enjoy a window view.  

Please respect the locals, and remember we are visitors here.  Acknowledging sales-people, and asking permission before taking photographs is a sign of respect, especially in circumstances where there are indigenous peoples present.

​COVID-19 UPDATE:  Out of respect for the local Mexicans and all of our guests, proof of Covid-19 Vaccination is required for our tours.  Thank you for your cooperation.  We will take everyone's temperature before boarding the van in the AM.  All guests and team members are expected to use hand sanitizer upon entering the vehicle, and wear a face mask over mouth & nose for the duration of our tours and events.  These health protocols are subject to changes.

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Jaime Balderas was born and raised in the Lake Patzcuaro region of Michoacan, has been a guide for over 18 years and is the proud owner of Animecha Tours.  Jaime completed the accredited tour guide training course offered by the SECTUR of the state of Michoacan, and is constantly updating his education through history courses, tourism seminars, and personal research.  Jaime is a member of Toastmasters International, which has allowed him to improve his communication skills to provide guests with an enriched understanding about the local culture, history, architecture, art forms, cuisine, archaeology and important cultural protocols.  Fluent in Spanish, English and proficient in the P'urepecha language, experiencing the Lake Patzcuaro region of Michoacan with Jaime Balderas is an educational experience you won't soon forget.  We are truly pleased to be working with Jaime for this experience, due to his thorough research, ease of engaging academic perspectives in an easy-to-understand communication style and his ethical approaches to cultural sensitivity.



With a background as a sales person and dealer of Indigenous art for over 30 years in Canada, Jennifer Bjarnason has been exploring Mexico for many years, and is a resident of Michoacan.  With a passion for indigenous and cultural art forms, she was first hired as an assistant and tour coordinator at Casona Rosa B&B in Morelia, where she began organizing art and butterfly tours for guests of the hotel.  With a passion for indigenous narratives, cultural art, history, nature and travel, Jennifer coordinates scientist-led eco-fundraisers for Monarch Butterfly Research, art-collection tours in the Lake Patzcuaro region, workshops with artists in authentic villages, Dia de Muertos experiences in Michoacan and an extensive exploration of La Ruta de Plata - or The Silver Road, which was a major intercontinental trade route of international importance. With a passion for all things about Mexico, whether that be nature to mezcal, archaeology, music, art and history, she looks forward to meeting you!  

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& Exclusions

All Accommodations are Included (Based on Double Occupancy in Morelia)
Single Supplement is $1200 Pesos for single private room


All Breakfasts

Charcuterie Picnic

Bag Lunch

2 Dinners



Private Transport with Licensed Professional Guide Included

return from Morelia

Transportation Connections for other regions of Mexico are separate, though we will assist you



Monarch Butterfly Biosphere







Scientific Presentation by Dr. Pablo Jaramillo Lopez


We provide a cooler with ice daily, so guests may keep beverages cold

The van will always be equipped with drinking water

We provide Hand Sanitizer, Sanitation Wipes, Hand-Wipes,

Tylenol, Gas-x, Gravol, Benadryl and a basic First Aid Kit. 


We have toilet paper on-hand for rest-stops in more remote locations,

as some bathrooms are not adequately equipped.  


We require a 15% non-refundable deposit to confirm your reservation.

Full payment is due by December 9, 2021 or January 13, 2022

Depending on your tour option


Cancellations made after payment date are non-refundable.

You may transfer your tour to a friend or family member at your own discretion, so long as they are in the right age group for this tour.



We are not an insurance company.  Please make sure you read the fine print on your airline reservations, and purchase travel and medical insurance.

We ask all guests to provide us with emergency contact information, in the event of a medical emergency.  Please make sure your emergency contact person has the name and contact information for your insurance provider, unless you are willing to send us this information.  We destroy all personal records once the tour has ended.


We require this information due to the frantic emergency of a dear colleague, whose guest took a very bad fall and was unconscious for several days.  The woman was travelling alone, and had not provided any emergency contact or insurance information.  She was eventually flown out of Mexico, though she didn't even have her policy with her.  After learning about this traumatic event, we decided it was mandatory to at least have emergency contact information for all of our guests.  Some guests are willing to give us the name and contact for their insurance companies, while others are wary.  Either way, if you are unwilling to give us this information, leave it with a trusted family member whose contact we have, so there is a way for us to contact someone with this very crucial and important information.

Agua Blanca Resort, Jungapeo Michoacan (




quick facts

State:  Michoacan
Location:  Eastern Michoacan
Altitude:  1,463 Meters / 4800 Feet
Founded:  P'urepecha Culture
Economy:  Tourism
Seat Population:  21,548 (2015)
Name: Jungapeo is a Chichimeca word that means "Yellow Place."


We highly recommend packing lightly, with a layered capsule wardrobe.  This time of year is cold in the evenings, warm during the day, and can be frigid in the reserves.   Keep this in mind when choosing your outfits.

Comfortable shoes are a must.  We recommend bringing your smart phone for the Slo-Motion feature.  The butterflies move so quickly, using slo-motion will create a beautiful memory for you.

Agua Blanca has medicinal spring pools.  They are not hot, but nor are they cold...


Compact Umbrella

Warm Jacket

Small Back Pack

Extra Socks

Smart Phone

Bathing Suit



We will be updating this soon, with more PDF files containing information about this tour