This February, we’re once again excited to be partnering with the San Diego Natural History Museum to bring you an unforgettable week in Mexico. Spend 9-days with the museum’s President/CEO and their curator of entomology, taking in the sights and food of Mexico City, exploring the culture and history of San Miguel de Allende and discovering the country’s wonderful flora and fauna as you experience the incredible Monarch Butterfly migration. This is a can’t miss opportunity to be part of something seriously special.
Day 1 – February 22nd, 2019
Rise early to catch your flight to bustling Mexico City. On arrival in this enthralling city you’ll enjoy some time to get settled. Rest up, because later this evening, a special welcome dinner is planned for the group in the vibrant Polanco District at an authentic local restaurant.
Mexico City is one of the most dynamic cities in all of Latin America. Built on the ancient site of Tenochtitlan, it was once the prosperous Aztec capital controlling the surrounding region. The famous Zocalo main square is located at the center of the city and is flanked by the National Cathedral, the largest and oldest in Latin America, and the National Palace which during colonial rule was the seat of power of the Spanish viceroy.
Day 2- February 23, 2019
Under the guidance of an expert local guide, your day will be spent taking in all this remarkable city as to offer. You’ll begin this fascinating tour by walking through the Calle Francisco I. Madero, a narrow, pedestrian avenue surrounded by colorful galleries and quaint shops until finally reaching the historic city center. Here, you’ll learn about both the history and contemporary context of the Zócalo main square, Palacio Nacional and the National Cathedral. Your guide will help you to appreciate the intricate colonial architecture and rich culture of this must-see area.
Next, you’ll continue onto the Templo Mayor, a fascinating archaeological site which sits right next to the Zócalo. There are many treasures to be found and this visit will allow you to view areas that are still being excavated. Next, continue onward to Antiguo Colegio San Ildefonso, a former Jesuit boarding school that now serves as a museum and cultural center; also considered to be the birthplace of the Mexican muralism movement. Continuing with the cultural theme of the day, you’ll head to the beautiful Palace of Fine Arts. Otherwise know as the “cathedral of fine art” due to its dramatic architecture, here you will see excellent examples of the Mexican muralism movement including colorful works depicting the evolution of Mexican culture and politics.
Tonight is a true highlight, you’ll embark on a special after-hours visit to the National Museum of Anthropology, which has been exclusively arranged for this trip. Get behind the scenes with your expert guide in this incredible space, which contains one of the world’s largest collections of archaeological and anthropological artifacts from pre-historic Maya civilization, prior to the Spanish conquest.
Day 3 – February 24, 2019
Today, your private guide will lead you to the La Roma neighborhood to meet the fabulous host chefs that will be taking you on a culinary journey through Mexican culture. Your hosts Beto and Jorge will welcome you to one of Mexico City’s most well-known historic colonial mansions, Casa Jacaranda, dating back to the year 1913 and the earliest years of the Colonia Roma. Art gallery, treasure trove and fun house all in one, the mansion is everything that Beto and Jorge love in life.
The first portion of your day is dedicated to visiting the local market and in Mexico, visiting the market is so much more than a shopping trip, it’s a dialogue. It’s unique smells, tastes and colors inspire and shape the experience to come.
Back at Casa Jacaranda, your hosts will help you to develop your own, one-of-a-kind sazón. Sazón means seasoning in Spanish and you’ll chop and dice herbs and spices to create a flavor that is unique to you. Everything is completely made from scratch. You’ll get the hang of Mexican cooking and gain an intuitive skill that you can take home to share with family and friends after your long afterMexican travels end.
Lastly, you will of course savor your creations! An intimate al fresco lunch will be set at a magnificent vintage table in the rooftop garden, beneath the namesake jacaranda tree. Fill up on flavorful, homemade creations and reflect everything learned as well as the aromas and tastes at the table. Artisanal mezcal also makes an excellent aperitif.
Day 4- February 25, 2019
Say farewell to Mexico City as you head into the lovely countryside, Valle de Bravo. Once in the area, you’ll venture to the unforgettable Piedra Herrada Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Every year, millions of Monarch Butterflies (danaus plexippus) arrive to Piedra Herrada traveling over 3,000 miles from Canada to breed in Mexico´s warm, elevated hills. Take it easy and enjoy a picnic lunch on arrival to adjust to the elevation, before exploring the sanctuary. The beautiful landscape of Piedra Herrada is truly one of a kind as it has a forest full of Oak Trees (quercus), Pine Trees (pinus) and other abundant vegetation and is inhabited by a large number of species of endemic flora and fauna.
Located at over 10,000 feet, it will be challenging (but rewarding) to reach the butterflies. You will begin your ascent on horseback heading up a steep marked trail and once near the top, it will be necessary to hike on foot. It is important to note that this journey is strenuous, but it is well worth the effort! Once you reach to top, you’ll be welcomed by thousands of butterflies covering the trees, they’re so alive with activity that appear almost animated. It’s an incredible sight to behold. In total, the Sanctuary is more than 11,409 square hectares, full of beautiful rivers and trees. A great place to breathe in the fresh air and enjoy nature, you’ll relax and admire its beautiful scenery observing the behavior of the striking Monarch Butterfly.
Mid-afternoon, continue onwards to Valle de Bravo town for a walking tour. In 1971, Valle de Bravo was recognized by the Mexican government as a “typical city” and then it was again recognized in 2005 for being one of Mexico’s official “magical towns”. Your afternoon will be dedicated to exploring the center of Valle de Bravo town on a guided visit through the cobblestone streets and along the shores of Lake Avandaro.
Day 5 – February 26, 2019
Today you’ll head to the Zitacuaro area en route to another fascinating butterfly sanctuary. Enjoy a lovely picnic lunch before arriving, fueling up for your adventures ahead. You’ll have the opportunity to visit the famous El Rosario Butterfly Sanctuary where over 20 million Monarchs gather each year! Open to the public since 1980, El Rosario has become an incredibly popular place to visit and will be the busiest of the sanctuaries that you will visit. Please note that there is an Eco Tourism Center here, where you can expect to find several food stands, artisan vendors, and more.
Next, you’ll begin your journey towards the butterflies. The area of butterfly hibernation is found at over 9,000 feet located among the mountains and is reached via another horseback ride followed by a challenging hike through the Oyamel Fir Tree (abies religiosa) forests. Tonight, reflect on your experiences so far over an group dinner.
Day 6 – February 27, 2019
This morning is yours to enjoy! If you’d like, stroll into Zitacuaro town and browse the local shops and artisan stalls. After an delicious lunch, resume your adventure with a visit to Sierra Chincua Butterfly Sanctuary. After El Rosario, Sierra Chincua is the second most visited butterfly sanctuary and offers the most accessible, gentle route to the butterflies. Most of the ascent into the mountains is done by vehicle, on a road that passes through the scenic village of Angangeo.
Once in the mountains at over 10,000 feet, the trail leading to the butterflies is gentle, lasting about 45 minutes. It is also possible to go by horseback ride. The trees here are almost all Oyamel Fir Trees (abies religiosa), making for striking dark green surroundings that contrast well with the bright orange of the Monarch Butterflies.
Day 7 – February 28, 2019
Today you’ll make your way to the magical city of San Miguel de Allende. Upon arrival, stretch your legs in the beautiful city center before an authentic lunch at a local restaurant. This afternoon has been left at leisure, so that each individual can meander the charming and colorful streets of San Miguel de Allende. Safe and traveler friendly, San Miguel de Allende is a UNESCO World Heritage city whose narrow cobblestone streets, fine colonial architecture and leafy courtyards make it one of the prettiest colonial cities in Mexico. Filled with opulent mansions and handsome churches, it was once an important crossroads for mule trains, which carried silver and gold to the capital.
Late this afternoon, gather for a short walk to Casa Dragones Tequila House for a private tasting. Casa Dragones invites you to experience this exclusive, private tasting of their house Casa Dragones tequila, one of the finest, premium tequila brands from Mexico. Visit the historic 17th century Casa Dragones house (otherwise closed to the public) and attend a tequila presentation and degustation to discover the unique qualities of this limited edition, hand crafted tequila. Your night will end at a quaint local restaurant to share stories over a delicious group dinner.
Day 8 – March 1, 2019
Following a tasty breakfast, meet your guide for a private guided tour of San Miguel de Allende as well as the nearby and somewhat hidden village of Atotonilco. You will start the day by visiting Atotonilco village just 30 minutes north of San Miguel; the main church of the village is known because of the al fresco painting that covers the entire building.
Next, return to San Miguel where your guide will point out the iconic symbols of San Miguel del Allende such as San Miguel Archangel Parish and other churches around the main square, as well as the historic houses of Casa de las Conspiraciones and Casa de los Condes de la Canal. See colorful buildings and thriving parks, visit the Parroquia, the Oratorio, or any one of the numerous other churches in town.
You’ll also explore the Museo Casa de Allende, the house of San Miguel’s most famous son and namesake, the independence leader Ignacio Allende, which is now a museum. Turquoise and silver jewelry can be found in one of the many myriad shops. An included lunch will take place in the historic city center.
Later this evening, return to San Miguel de Allende’s main square for a private callejoneada through the cobblestone streets of the town. A callejoneada is a walking serenade and folkloric event unique to Guanajuato state. Enjoy an unforgettable stroll though town led by costumed performers, winding around the streets singing popular songs about local legends. At the end of the callejoneada, depart for an included farewell dinner at Antonia´s Bistro restaurant.
Day 9 – March 2, 2019
Depart your hotel following a breakfast this morning and make your way back to Mexico City where you will bid farewell to your local guides. Here, board your outbound departure flight on Alaska Airlines to fly home to San Diego.
Call us at (858) 523-9000 to find out more about this incredible vacation.
NOTES AND PRICING
• 8 nights accommodation in double occupancy rooms
• Daily cultural and wildlife excursions as stated
• Daily transportation in Mercedes Benz Sprinter vehicles with air conditioning (seats up to 12 passengers)
• English-speaking local naturalist guides
• 2 Museum hosts (Judy Gradwohl and Michael Wall) to accompany the group throughout the trip
• Roundtrip international economy flights from San Diego – Mexico City
• Daily breakfast with non-alcoholic beverages
• Daily lunch & dinner with non-alcoholic beverages, local beer & wine (up to two wines or beers per person per meal)
• Bottled waters, juice and sodas during all vehicle transfers
• Snacks such as fruit, granola bars and chips during all vehicle transfers
• Tips and gratuities for restaurant wait staff and local support staff
• All national park fees, entrance fees and taxes
• Tips and gratuities for main guides and drivers, hotel housekeeping
• Additional alcoholic beverages
• This program requires a minimum of 10 travelers to operate.
• 1 Expert Local Guide and 1 Mercedes Benz Sprinter is included for groups with 10-11 travelers.
• 2 Expert Local Guides and 2 Mercedes Benz Sprinters are included for groups with 12-16 travelers.
• This program has a maximum of 16 travelers.
• $7395.00 per person (two people sharing a double occupancy room).
• Solo travelers: We regret to inform you that all of the hotels we work with charge a single supplement because operational costs typically do not decrease if just one person occupies a room instead of two.
• If you particularly want to have a single room, we are able to provide you with one for the supplement cost listed below. If you wish to share a room to avoid paying the supplement, we can usually match you up with someone of the same gender also wishing to share.
• If we are unable to do this, we regret that the single supplement must be charged. Solo travelers who are willing to share a room with another traveler of the same gender will not be charged a single supplement at the time of booking.If we are able to successfully pair you with another traveler before final payment* is due the single supplement will not be charged.
• If we are not able to pair you with another traveler before final payment* you will have the choice to pay the single supplement to guarantee your own room, or to cancel your trip and have your deposit refunded.
• Alternatively, if you prefer to guarantee your own room from the time of booking, the single supplement will apply at the time of booking.
• A maximum of two single rooms can be accepted for the trip to operate.
• The single supplement is $1845.00.
* Please note that final payment is non-refundable within 120 days of departure.