The lovely colorful creatures with pretty little wings, the delicate features and the pitter-patter of the tiny wings that sway with the winds. The butterflies fascinate us all and rightly so. They are adorable. Now who wouldn’t love to be around one, two of them? Well how about tens, hundreds or thousands of them? Why stop there how about millions of butterfly to walk with you? Maybe even a billion? Well this is not a cartoon show for the butterfly to be at your beck and call, so how do you gather a billion beautiful butterflies around you? Simple, head to Mexico
The World Heritage site, the Bio reserve of Monarch Butterflies is one place where you can be surrounded by butterflies. They are so huge in number that the trees in the bio reserve become orange and the branches sag by the weight of the migrated butterflies. And when they all take flight! God’s creativity can make you cry. Spending a day with them, walking and cycling by will make you feel one with nature and in presence of beauty of a different magnitude all together. The butterflies mate during their time at the reserve, the view is simply gorgeous.
The beauty of the place lies in the journey of 4000kms that these tiny creatures make all the way from United States to Mexico. The annual winter migration was discovered in 1970s leading to series of protective steps leading to its declaration as World Heritage site. No single butterfly could cover a round trip in their single life span, the two generation combine together to complete this journey. How the butterflies know the place their ancestors visit is baffling and is generally associated to their hereditary, say it is hot-wired in their brains.
The Biosphere is located on the mountain forests of far eastern Michoacán state. The Mexico City is 100km northwest of the reserve. This is the highest altitude of the region and has a temperate temperature. Sometimes the morning temperature is so low that the butterflies die of the cold weather. This is one reason why they crowd on the trees, to conserve heat. And come the first rays of sunshine, the butterflies stretch out their wings to welcome the heat, the sky is covered with orange speckles.
The biosphere is made of 56,000 hectors of land, the butterflies cover only a fraction of it but they have become a part of ecosystem which has to be supported and tended to. The reserves are open to public; however two guided tours are most popular, El Rosario or Sierra Chincua reserves. Though the government of Mexico encourages tourism, some parts of the biosphere are closed to public as they are important for the survival of the ecosystem. The park is open from 6 am to 6 pm all seven days, the months of November-march are apt and January -February are most recommended.
The butterflies arrive at the biosphere in late October. The place is open to public for next five months, from November to March. The butterflies mate during this season and their young-lings are born here. The arrival of butterflies coincide with an important Mexican Festival, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). During this day the deceased family and friends are said to return home where they are welcomed with feasts and celebrations. The butterflies arrive about this time making the day more special for the locals.
The biosphere has created a tourism industry in the local area. The options are from horseback rides or hike to buses cars to take you up to the reserve and back the accommodation facility etc. have cropped up to compliment the growing interest in this slice of natural wonder. There are other attractions in the area enabling you to make an interesting itinerary for the trip.
The festival de la Maripose Monarca (Monarch butterfly festival) is held in February each year. This is done in part to boost the popularity of the reserve and in part to celebrate the butterflies. This is one of the most popular attractions of the region and combines regional food, music, arts together. The local economy gets a boost here
The reserve is generally well protected now but the forest fires, the deforestation and illegal poaching are serious threats to the ecosystem. The local public, authority and the butterfly lovers lock horns occasionally for the vested interest of each party doesn’t overlap at all. The cameras are fitted all over now for the protection of the region, the temperature is also checked regularly to keep the atmosphere just right.
The world has taken notice of the world of butterflies now. As the popularity increases the curiosity follows. The tourism is increasing with people coming all the way from Japan to witness this gathering. Keep this in mind if you visit the city of Mexico, for a day with butterflies is hardly a day wasted.
The winter migration sees butterflies travel across the physical boundaries. It is a part of their life, their heredity. It surely makes one think of the majestic beauty that lies hidden in nature. Only need is to find the location where beauty unleashes itself to the world.