2024 Bucket List Tour: Monarch Butterflies + Michoacan Folk Art

Come with us to Mexico, February 1-11, 2024, 10-nights, 11-days

Back by popular demand! I never knew that visiting the Monarch butterflies in Mexico should have been on my bucket list until I got there. Tucked into the mountainous forests of Michoacan and Estado de Mexico is the terminus of the butterfly migration from North America where the noble Monarchs winter and reproduce. The experience is mystical, magical, life-affirming, and memorable. I’ve always felt that being here is one of those moments that inspire and validate our existence on the planet and gives us pause to appreciate the constant cycle of nature at its most magnificent.

We did not anticipate offering this tour again until 2025, but we were cajoled into organizing it sooner so you wouldn’t have to wait so long! Now, we have only a few spaces open!

But this is not all! After this first part of our tour, we travel to the magical craft and folk-art towns of Michoacan:  Patzcuaro and the indigenous Purepecha towns surrounding Lake Patzcuaro, plus Ahuiran, Santa Clara del Cobre, and Paracho. We meet with famous artisans and those off-the-beaten path whose work is recognized as Grand Masters of Mexican Folk Art by Fundacion Banamex. We meet weavers, potters, embroiderers, mask-makers, coppersmiths. We explore in safety and security, led by a local guide whom we know very well. We NEVER take you into any locations that are dangerous or threatening.

This tour is limited to 14 travelers. We have five single rooms and 4 shared rooms available.

We start in Mexico City to learn about history of Mexico through a walking tour focusing on the Mexican Muralism Movement with an art historian. Our journey continues to Michoacán where we do the outdoor expedition to visit the sanctuary of the Monarch butterfly. We end this tour in Patzcuaro, a colonial city awarded with the recognition of Pueblo Magico. Here we spend some days to learn about the strategic location next to the lake and the different oficios (artisan wares) in some of the towns around the lake, such as, copper, wood, ceramics and textiles.

Thursday, February 1: Arrive in Mexico City. Gather for NO-HOST dinner. Meals included: none. Overnight in Mexico City.

Friday, February 2: Breakfast, welcome and orientation. Morning art history walking tour featuring the Mexican Muralism Movement – Rivera, Orozco, Siqueiros. Welcome lunch at one of the best downtown restaurants. Afternoon discussion about Michoacan textiles with noted cultural anthropologist. Meals included: Breakfast and lunch. Overnight in Mexico City.

Saturday, February 3: After breakfast, depart to butterfly sanctuary with stop at Zirahuato archeological site. Meals included: Breakfast and lunch. Overnight in Zitacuaro.

Sunday, February 4: Visit El Rosario Butterfly Sanctuary. Meals included: Breakfast and lunch. Overnight in Zitacuaro.

Monday, February 5: Visit a second butterfly sanctuary. You may choose to ride a horse if you like. In the afternoon, we depart for Patzcuaro and check in to our cozy hotel. Meals included: Breakfast and lunch. Overnight in Patzcuaro.

Tuesday, February 6: After breakfast, we will participate in a hands-on cooking class. You will eat what you prepare for lunch. Afternoon Patzcuaro Walking Tour, visit galleries and museums. Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overnight in Patzcuaro.

Wednesday, February 7: After breakfast, we travel to Santa Clara del Cobre where artisans make hand-hammered copper pieces. Then on to Cuanajo where we will meet a family of weavers who work on back strap loom the technique of warp faced weaving. Then we make a stop in Tupataro where we learn more about the history of the Patzcuaro and visit some of the most amazing frescos on the ceiling of this small, historical church. Meals included: Breakfast and lunch. Overnight Patzcuaro.

Thursday, February 8: This is a long day around Lake Patzcuaro to artisan villages. Our first stop is in Tucuaro we visit a master woodcarver who makes the carnival mask for the celebrations of Lent and Easter. In Santa Fe la Laguna, we will learn about the lake and its importance to the surrounding towns including Patzuaro.

Then we visit Tzintzuntzan, where we learn about the fine satin stitch embroidery made by a collective of women who specialize in embroidering the village traditions in scenes depicted on multi-colored fabric. Then we learn about the chuspata fiber used to weave utilitarian pieces such as rugs, mats and even living rooms! In town, we visit a family of potters that specializes in high temperature ceramic pieces. Meals included: Breakfast and lunch. Overnight in Patzcuaro.

Friday, February 9: Our first stop is in Ahuiran, here we meet a family of shawl weavers made with cotton and rayon threads that are woven on backstrap looms. These shawls have amazing, knotted fringes and the weavers use feathers woven into the cloth to decorate them. Next, we travel to Paracho where learn about the tradition of handmade guitars. This town inspired the guitar for Coco (Disney Pixar 2017 movie). Our last stop is in Aranza to visit with a family that we think may weave the finest clothes in Mexico. They work with one ply 100% cotton to make blouses and shawls with a special technique on a backstrap loom that we can only describe as being like lace. But the cloth is woven by hand picking and twisting the warp threads to create this effect. Meals included: Breakfast and lunch.

Saturday, February 10: Leisurely day on your own after breakfast to meander Patzcuaro streets, pack, do any last-minute shopping. We then meet for a Grand Finale Dinner to celebrate our time together and memories made.  Meals included: Breakfast and dinner. Overnight in Patzcuaro.

Sunday-February 11: Departure. We will assist in scheduling shared van transportation from Patzcuaro to Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City at your own expense. The hotel can also help you make taxi arrangements if you plan to go on to visit other Mexican towns.

Note: Schedule is preliminary and is subject to change throughout our tour, depending on artisan availability, etc.

What Is Included

  • 9 nights lodging at top-rated hotels
  • 9 breakfasts
  • 7 lunches
  • Grand Finale Gala Dinner
  • Museum and entry fees
  • Optional Cooking Class
  • Luxury van transportation
  • Complete guide and translation services

The tour does NOT include airfare, taxes, tips, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, some meals, and local transportation as specified in the itinerary. We reserve the right to substitute instructors and alter the program as needed.

Cost • $3,795 double room with private bath (sleeps 2) • $4,595 single room with private bath (sleeps 1)

[  ] Yes, I want to take the optional cooking class at $165 per person additional

Reservations and Cancellations.  A $500 non-refundable deposit is required to guarantee your spot. The balance is due in two equal payments. The second payment of 50% of the balance is due on or before October 1, 2023. The third 50% payment of the balance is due on or before December 1, 2023. We accept payment using online e-commerce only. We will send you an itemized invoice when you tell us you are ready to register. After December 1, 2023, there are no refunds. If you cancel on or before December 1, 2023, we will refund 50% of your deposit received to date less the $500 non-refundable reservation deposit. After that, there are no refunds.

If we cancel for whatever reason, we will offer a 100% refund of all amounts received to date, less the non-refundable deposit.

All documentation for plane reservations, required travel insurance, and personal health issues must be received 45 days before the program start or we reserve the right to cancel your registration without reimbursement.

NOTE: All travelers must provide proof of vaccination for COVID-19 to travel with us. You must also wear CDC-approved face masks, use hand-sanitizer, and maintain all public health precautions.

How to Register:  First, complete the Registration Form and send it to us. We will then send you an invoice to make your reservation deposit.

To Register, Policies, Procedures & Cancellations–Please Read

Terrain, Walking and Group Courtesy: The butterfly sanctuary is at 10,000 feet altitude. To get there, one must ascend a steep pathway or ride a horse to the destination. Generally, the altitude is 5,000 to 7,000 feet in the various locations we will visit. Streets and sidewalks in colonial towns are cobblestones, and narrow. We will do a lot of walking. We will walk a lot — up to 10,000 steps per day at a moderate pace. We recommend you bring a walking stick and wear sturdy shoes.

NOTE: If you have mobility issues or health/breathing impediments, please consider that this may not be the program for you.

Traveling with a small group has its advantages, and also means that independent travelers will need to make accommodations to group needs and schedule. We include plenty of free time to go off on your own if you wish.

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