Butterfly Tours to Mexico

Flying Butterfly

Spirit of Butterflies Tour to Mexico:  2016/2017

THE SPIRIT OF BUTTERFLIES, a tour to the heart and soul of Michoacan, Mexico.

Tours usually start on Sundays and end on Fridays.   There are tours scheduled for February 19th to February 24th and February 26th to March 3rd.  Let us know if other dates are convenient for you and we’ll build a tour group around that.  We are available for special-interest groups, such as educators or bird-watchers.

This unique tour offers the opportunity to witness the dynamics of deforestation and reforestation, while learning about the local history and culture. Visit a copper artisan’s atelier and a lake where the fisherman still use butterfly nets. Relax in natural hot springs and travel to two sacred mountains where millions of monarchs overwinter. Renew yourself and help save the butterflies.

A guided tour for a small group (maximum 12 people) for a full yet relaxing 5 days. The tour includes all accommodations and food, airfare to Mexico extra.

With Jose Luis Alvarez, who speaks Spanish, French and English, as your guide, you will experience the heart and soul of Mexico. Be prepared for an extraordinary life experience starting out in the renovated 350-year-old hacienda La Cruz with Jose Luis as your host.

Jose Luis is also a forester who has planted millions of trees in and around the monarch sanctuaries. Part of the proceeds from the tours helps in this effort.

For more information, please contact Maraleen Manos-Jones, who coordinates the tours: mmjbutterfly@hvc.rr.com or tel: 845-657-8073

Cost: $1,500 per person. Includes food, lodging and transportation in Mexico. Part of the proceeds helps in the reforestation effort.  Group limited to maximum 12 people. Air transport to Mexico and all liquor consumption is extra. A deposit of 33% is required, which is refundable up to one week prior to the tour.

Our six-day tours start in November and continue through mid March. Special tours can be arranged for your particular group. We require a minimum of four people.

Author Maraleen Manos-Jones will accompany some of these tours; however, she will be coordinating all of them. She is the person to be contacted for all tour reservations and questions. Call 845-657-8073 or email: mmjbutterfly@hvc.rr.com

Make your reservations early and be prepared for an experience of a lifetime.


Photographs of the Tour

There is always concern about the impact of eco-tourism on the places they are trying to protect. We are proud that the tour we offer very much takes this into consideration. Following is a quote from a recent participant in one of our tours, Jim Mason, a naturalist with The Great Plains Nature Center:

“..Regarding concerns about the effects of ecotourism on the resource
would be to take advantage of the tour offered through the La Cruz Habitat Protection Project, which takes you to the refuges in a way that supports the local economy and does not harm the integrity of the refuges. In addition, it uses part of your tour fee to pay for the planting of trees to enhance the wooded buffer zone around the refuges so there is less perceived need on the part of the residents of the area to cut down trees in the refuges. It is absolutely a win, win, win situation. I wish all ecotourism was done with this formula. I went on that tour this February and highly recommend it. In fact, I hope to lead a group back down there to take that tour next February.”

And, in fact, Jim Mason, having studied Mexican butterflies, co-led a trip in Feb. 2004

“What a wonderful experience…thanks for the trip of a lifetime.” — Helen Johnson

“…it was indeed a spiritual journey. My energy really shifted toward the positive and New York faded away with the aid of the morning exercises and evening meditations. Visiting the enchanting butterflies was a perfect climax to the days spent taking in the local culture, arts, history and scenery and learning about the reforestation efforts that our trip was helping to support. We were taken to hidden spots unknown to most tourists and discovered parts of Mexico not possible without these expert guides. A memorable and special journey.” — Roz Chernesky

Visit the Magic of Monarchs in Mexico…renew yourself and help save the butterflies

There are some places on our beautiful planet that are deeply soul stirring and one of these is not so very far away. From Canada and the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, the seemingly fragile monarch butterflies fly as many as 3,000 miles to a place where they have never before been. They start out one by one, then scores, hundreds, soon thousands are seen flying together, devouring the nectar from favorite flowers they need as fuel for their long journey. They seem have their own built-in GPS, Global Positioning Satellite, system. The monarch butterflies navigate in part by magnetic signals. They have magnetite in their bodies, an iron oxide, which is attracted by the pull of distant iron rich mountains in Mexico. They also use the length and intensity of sunlight as well as ultraviolet light to guide their way, starting their migration in autumn when the sun is at a 56-degree angle to the horizon at noon. No other species of butterfly in the world has a similar, bird-like, annual migration.

Millions of monarch butterflies find valleys among the mountaintops at altitudes of 9,000 to 12,000 feet in the Transverse Neo-Volcanic Range in Central Mexico. They start arriving at the beginning of November, coinciding with the Mexican national holiday, Los Dias de Muertos, Days of the Dead. Legend says that the monarchs are special old souls returning to sacred mountains. They will remain here for over four months before mating and then making their return journey north in March. There are about thirteen mountaintops where the monarch butterflies cluster, at each site the population of butterflies varies from year to year, from 30 million to as many as 250 million or more in a few square miles. These isolated mountain tops provide the ideal microclimate to allow the monarchs to survive the winter.

An estimated 10,000 monarch butterflies roost on each tree for the warmth of their companions during the cold nights, mostly in Oyamel Fir trees. This type of tree grows only in the beautiful state of Michoacan, and the western part of the state of Mexico. The tree’s Latin name is Abies religiosa; its branches were used in ancient pre-Colombian sacred worship. In the light of the morning sun, the monarchs slowly leave the warmth of their companions in the trees and fly low, landing to drink the morning dew and dampened earth near natural springs. The males need the mineral salts from the earth to mate successfully. As the sun moves higher, the monarchs’ flights are more energetic, millions of golden fluttering wings rustling the air in the sound and beauty of ever changing patterns of light and movement.

It is a privilege, an honor, and profoundly moving to witness this spectacle, this ancient gathering of old souls, this scientific mystery whose secrets are not yet fully understood. Yet, there is trouble in this ancient paradise. If there is not a concerted effort to save the habitats of the monarchs in Mexico, one of the natural worlds’ most spectacular and unique phenomenon, this great cultural and biological treasure that has been in existence for time immemorial, could disappear in as little as ten years. The problem is relentless logging. The solution is sustainable reforestation. There is hope. You can help, and, at the same time, renew your spirit. Part of the proceeds of the tour benefits the reforestation effort.

First Prize Winner of Smithsonian Institute Magazine/US Tour Operators Association Conservation Award 2002

We are honored and proud to have won this prestigious award in 2002. The year before, in 2001, we were among the five finalists. Maraleen Manos-Jones accepted the first prize crystal trophy and check from Smithsonian Magazine publisher Amy Wilkins at an awards luncheon in Whistler, B.C., for The Spirit of Butterflies Tour.

It won the 2002 Conservation Award from Smithsonian Magazine and U.S. Tour Operators Association in recognition of ecotourism at its best and honoring the valued work on behalf of environmental conservation. To quote Jim Mason, a naturalist who took the tour in February 2003, “To me, this is the way ecotourism should be done. While you get to see the “neat stuff” you also directly help to mitigate the “bad stuff” that threatens the neat stuff.”

Staying at the renovated three hundred fifty-year-old Hacienda La Cruz in the heart of Michoacan with Jose Luis Alvarez  adds a personal touch, delicious food and learning about the culture and history of the area. You also witness and learn about the dynamic process of reforestation, from the extraction and planting of pine seedlings in the nursery, to the deforested and reforested areas near the butterflies.

While becoming acclimated to the 7,000′ elevation, and preparing for the higher elevations near the butterflies, the first few days are spent exploring Santa Clara de Cobre, where the whole town is dedicated to the craft of copper, including a visit to an award winning copper artisan in his workshop. You explore another nearby town of artisans, by Lake Patzcuaro, where fishermen still use butterfly nets. As well, a visit to a nature reserve with waterfalls, tropical flora and butterflies, is not only beautiful, but fresh fish provides a delicious dining experience while sitting next to the cascading water. There is fine dining throughout the tour.

“Visiting the enchanting butterflies was a perfect climax to the days spent taking in the local culture, arts, history and scenery and learning about the reforestation efforts that our trip was helping to support. We were taken to hidden spots unknown to most tourists and discovered parts of Mexico not possible without these expert guides. A memorable and special journey.” Roz Chernesky, tour participant 2001

After experiencing the wonder and mystery of two butterfly sanctuaries, for reflective moments of relaxation and renewal, soak in a special natural hot springs.

Sustainable reforestation is the only working solution to saving the monarchs and their habitats and helping the indigenous people in the area have a chance at economic self-sufficiency. And this personal tour is a glimpse into a special world, a unique life experience.

For more information on The Spirit of Butterflies Tour

contact Maraleen Manos-Jones, who accompanies some and coordinates all the tours
434 Bostock Road
Shokan, N.Y. 12481-5415
Tel or fax: 845 657-8073 or email: mmjbutterfly@hvc.rr.com

Photographs of the Tour

Hacienda La Cruz

Hacienda La Cruz where we stay the first few days of the tour. Adjacent to the tree nursery, it is the home of Jose Luis Alvarez and his family.


A typical room in Hacienda La Cruz

A typical room in Hacienda La Cruz


Experience the mystery and majesty of millions of monarchs

Experience the mystery and majesty of millions of monarchs

Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterflies