This program was custom designed to combine hiking in spectacular locations with a wealth of fascinating history and archaeology.
This itinerary is subject to change. Travel demands flexibility. We will strive to balance adaptability with remaining on schedule. Please trust that, when it is not possible to follow the plan laid out below, your program leaders will work to find substitutions that retain the quality of this Study Travel program. Various details may be added or changed due to information obtained while making reservations, or perhaps on site, especially because of the weather. BLD indicate included group meals.
Sunday, Feb 13 USA – Mexico City Zócalo Historico Central Hotel (D)
Individual departures from the U.S., with likely arrival in Mexico City the same day. Upon arrival you will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel located on the Zócalo in the heart of the historic center of the city. This evening meet in the hotel lobby at 7pm for a briefing orientation and welcome dinner.
Monday, Feb 14 Mexico City – Zitacuaro Rancho San Cayetano (BLD)
We begin today with a short exploration of Mexico City. Embark on a walking tour of Zocalo, Cathedral, Templo Mayor and National Palace, with a boxed lunch provided. Then, depart for Rancho San Cayetano located near Zitácuaro. The hotel is located on 13 acres of beautiful countryside, surrounded by gardens and views of surrounding mountains. After our group dinner we’ll gather for a briefing on Cerro Pelón and what to expect in the morning. Please note that it can get cold at night and in the early morning so it is recommended that you bring warm sleeping clothes.
Tuesday, Feb 15 Zitacuaro Rancho San Cayetano (BLD)
After breakfast visit the Cerro Pelón reserve. This visit will being via horseback rental to the roosting site. Of the three reserves visited on the program, this one is the most challenging with a steeper hike and altitudes starting at about 10,400 feet. Depending on the location of the colony a 30 minute steep uphill hike maybe required after the horse ride. Cerro Pelón is the least known monarch reserve and because of the rougher conditions is it the least visited, so this will be a more intimate experience. A boxed lunch will be provided. Please note that there are no bathrooms in the reserve. You can choose not to visit Cerro Pelón and instead enjoy Rancho Cayetano and surrounding areas. The property is great for birding and a short walk will take you to Coatepec de Morelo which is home to the 16th century church, Iglesia de San Pancho and the market in Zitácuaro. If you wish to venture further you can visit the archaeological site at San Felipe Los Alzati (45 minutes drive from the hotel). Everyone will return to the lodge for group dinner and briefing on tomorrow’s activities.
Wednesday, Feb 16 Zitacuaro – Angangueo Hotel Don Bruno (BLD)
Early this morning check-out of the hotel and visit the Monarch site of El Rosario. This large overwintering colony normally contains well over 100 million adult Monarchs and has an excellent trail system winding through the fir-covered slopes on which the colony is located. Additionally, there is a nearby stream where the butterflies may fly at midday to drink water. At this time of year, they may take flight for an hour or more to get water or nectar before returning to their roost on the tree limbs or trunks. The hike to reach the colony may again reach up to 10,000 feet and will require hiking up the mountain. The hike will be at your own pace and birding can be done along the way. A portion of the hike can again be done by horseback rental. Once at the site the day will be spent enjoying the colony at our leisure, with a boxed lunch. Restrooms are located at the bottom of the mountain and not in the reserve. Then we’ll depart for the colonial town of Angangueo, located high in the mountains in the state of Michoacán, about 100 miles west of Mexico City. Check in at Hotel Don Bruno. Group dinner, followed by a briefing at the hotel to prepare for tomorrow’s activities.
Thursday, Feb 17 Angangueo Hotel Don Bruno (BLD)
This morning visit Sierra Chincua, one of several nearby Monarch sites that are more isolated than El Rosario, which will be visited tomorrow. The journey starts with a hike up the mountain to about 10,000 feet. Horses will be available to rent for a portion of the trail. The cost is about $100 Mexican pesos, cash only. (See approximate exchange rates at xe.com/ict.) Some walking will be required; you will be able to walk at your own pace and stop and rest as needed, because once you reach the Monarch colony site, you will have the day to enjoy and photograph the spectacular colony. A boxed lunch will be provided to eat while at the site. Please note that the only restrooms in the reserve are located at the bottom of the mountain. After we descend, there will be a short time to buy souvenirs at the craft market located at the bottom of the mountain. If time permits we can visit the Alternare Center, which has more than 20 years of experience working with rural communities with the goal of helping conserve the butterfly habitat. They also teach sustainable farming techniques, the construction of adobe houses, wood-saving stoves and water conservation practices. Later this afternoon we’ll take a guided walking tour through Angangueo town. Founded in 1792 the town served as a main mining center providing wealth for the area. Today the town derives its income from butterfly tourism and agriculture. Group dinner at the hotel.
Friday, Feb 18 Angangueo – Mexico City Zócalo Historico Central Hotel (BLD)
After breakfast, we’ll depart for the Mexico City area and the pyramids at San Juan Teotihuacán. After a group lunch near the pyramids, we’ll have the afternoon to explore this world-famous archaeological site, which covers 32 square miles and contains many structures, including two large pyramids. The Pyramid of the Sun, at a height of more than 200 feet, is one of the largest structures created in the pre-Columbian New World. After time to explore the ruins on your own, we’ll return to the hotel located on the Zócalo for a farewell group dinner.
Saturday, Feb 19 Depart (B)
Breakfast and departures. Hotel to airport transfers are included and will be coordinated based on flight times.
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