Adventure and Ecotourism with Mexicos Glittering Monarchs
Join Journey Mexico on an eight-day aquatic adventure in which you will get to share the waters with these incredible creatures. You will be able to swim side-by-side with these passive creatures, marveling at their sheer size and elegance. The Cave of Swallows is a gaping hole of feet 63 m at its widest point with a vertical drop of 1,feet m. However, when night begins to fall, the skies come alive with the eye-catching acrobatics of thousands of birds attempting to return to their cave home.
This breath-taking spectacle pits bird against bird as they twist, turn, and tumble in an organized mess.
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Join Journey Mexico on a three-day trip that includes a visit to see this wonder of nature, while also going on a cultural adventure of the local area. Our private gray whale and sea turtle tour will take you on to the seas for a number of gray whale spotting excursions. Intensely curious animals, gray whales have even been known to approach boats to take a closer look.
Standing on the path mesmerized—I am among about million monarchs—I take in the sound. The whirring is soft, like rain. A butterfly lands on my hip, opening and closing its wings in the sun.
México’s Glittering Monarchs: A Driving Adventure by William J. Conaway
Then another lands on my stomach. Before it gets too personal, the monarch takes wing. The onlookers laugh.
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I feel light, happy, as if I've just been kissed by nature. Just then, several sweaty local men huff and puff up the hill with a stretcher. They deposit Ida, a year-old from Gulfport, Mississippi, on a rock. She blinks as if she's just been dispatched to the moon. One of the most striking things about being in the sanctuary is not the monarchs, but the effect they have on the people here. Young, old, male, female, local, foreigner—everyone is smiling, helpful, friendly.
It's as if the butterflies are bringing out the best in human nature. On the walk down, I'm befriended by a pack of female athletes on their annual visit to the sanctuary from Mexico City. Two of the four carry dogs in their backpacks; a white poodle with a pink bow named Bianca and a Chihuahua named Merlina with two puppies. I ask why these cosmopolitan babes keep returning to this quiet place when Mexico has so many playgrounds for the young and beautiful.
Small volatile souls That let our imagination fly away That give us our strength And feeling of vigor. I lend Tatiana, who's shivering with cold, my down vest for the descent. She accepts it as naturally as if she were a longtime friend. You can feel it, and it energizes the soul. None of the hotels in the area has heat, and I've been warned to wear thermal underwear with my pajamas—the temperatures dip below 30 degrees at night. Our dinner is a buffet of rice, beans, chicken, and cactus, washed down with endless Mexican beer and lemony mountain tea, brewed with limoncillo from the side of the road.
After dinner I'm presented with a hot water bottle and retire to a freshly lit fire in my room. My second day I visit the Sierra Chincua Sanctuary, which is about an hour from the hotel. At the entrance, our group mounts horses, and we make our way through foot-tall white pines, oaks, and firs on a skinny, rutted footpath. The experience is silent and serene.
After an hour we dismount to hike the final mile. Before long, I spot one monarch, then another. As I walk, I see dozens, then hundreds and thousands. The sun is shining and the butterflies are in flight. The experience is otherworldly, like being inside a snow globe with orange glitter. In this one area alone, there are 30 to 50 million monarchs. A threesome lands in my lap with surprising heft. These fourth-generation monarchs can get quite chubby because of their relatively long lifespan. One butterfly disentangles itself, and the male yanks the female to a tree to close the deal.
The males vigorously go at it, attacking anything that moves, including other males or fluttering leaves. Once a male latches onto a female, the nuptial dance can last for as long as eight hours.
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They've had time to prepare. Since last fall, these butterflies have been staving off sexual maturity, thanks to the unique environment these forests provide, which is not too hot or cold, wet or dry. They settle and remain motionless—in stasis—until spring and mating. That's when the milkweed grows, creating a surface on which they'll lay their eggs—then becoming food for the caterpillars when they hatch. I peer into the valley, and the cobalt blue sky turns into a shimmering sheet of orange and black. When the sun has warmed a large number of butterflies, they simultaneously burst into flight.
But that's just it, I can't think. My brain has been turned off.
Protagonist Shmotagonist. As my jaw hangs open, all I can do is rubberneck. A female NZ sea lion and her pup on the Aramoana sandflats. NZ fur seal pups grouped together at the Taiaroa Head breeding colony Yellow-eyed penguin taking a rest on it's way back to the nest. A northern royal albatross glides in front of the Monarch. A southern royal showing off an impressive 3. The one hour Wildlife Cruise travelling past the historic Taiaroa Head lighthouse. Royal albatross soaring high above and grouping on the Taiaroa Head breeding colony. See more photos Visit website.
Business hours: 7 days week - Summer hours 1 Oct - early Apr am - pm - Winter hours am - pm. Months of operation: All months of the year.