Monarch Butterfly: The most spectacular migration of the world
Mariposas or butterflies are present in two separate sanctuaries one 9 km NW of Angangueo is the ”Sierra Chincua” Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary for 35 pesos the other is 12 km east of Ocampo is the “El Rosario” Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary for 40 pesos. The use of a guide is mandatory at both sites and well worth the 40, or 50 pesos recommend paying them. Both roads are extremely steep. I drove them in 1st and 2nd gear in my Toyota 4Runner. The only time I got into a higher gear was when I came back down the mountain. I was glad I did not try pulling my little trailer. The roads are in good shape, and most cars can do it, but I recommend the use of your low gears. The walk up after parking was just as steep and seemed just as long; how anyone found where the butterflies were hiding is still a mystery to me. Both sanctuaries are beautiful and well worth the climb, but be sure to wear hiking boots, waffle stompers or something with good ankle support due to the uneven paths. For those that are not up to the strenuous climb both sanctuaries have horses that can be rented for about 100 pesos. To appreciate the effort I made to get to the butterflies and take these photographs, please enjoy the results of my work.
These two sanctuaries are in a canyon carved by the Rio Puereo, and inhabited by the Tarascan Indians long before the Spanish arrived. The name means the “mouth of the cave.” There are three mountains here with peaks rising above 10,000 feet, the Cerro de Guadalupe, El Campanario and Cerro de la Gotera.
The butterflies stay here for about six months and will return to the United States and Canada in April or when spring arrives. They travel over 4000 km each way to avoid the impending North winters.
Angangueo in the early 20th century it was a mining center, today it has two imposing Catholic churches facing each other across the main plaza that also serve as a tourist departure point for trips to the monarch butterfly sanctuaries; there are more than a dozen mostly in the state of Michoacán.
Ocampo and San Luis in-between these two towns is a campground that is extremely rustic, heavily treed, good shade, beautifully, protected from the winds and out of sight from the road and only 20 pesos per day. The best deal in town for those that do not mind a little roughen it. I recommend this place for any tenters and small RVers. The access roads are narrow and rough so it would not be good for the longer RV’s or trailers. I spent a week here and enjoyed it. Sights do not have water or electricity, but it is available on the grounds.