A nice start to the day at Lower Mazinaw Lake, Ontario, Canada.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Ottawa, Canada.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Reuniting with Max in Germany on October 1st.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Yet another visit to the butterflies

With clear sky all around Valle de Bravo, it looked like a perfect day to visit the butterflies again. This time, nine of us headed to the Cerro Pelon Reserve near the town of El Capulin. We rented a van and driver to take us there.

For Ruth and I, this was our 7th visit to see the butterflies over the years. And, our fourth different sanctuary.

We stopped at a viewpoint along the way...

The only problem with this picture is the clouds over the mountains where we are headed.

Looking down on the town of Donato Guerra.

Beautiful view.

We had left the marina at about 8:30am, and arrived at El Capulin at 9:45am.

Nobody around.

Compared to the zoo of people at El Rosario last week, this place was deserted. The only problem is what you see in the photo above... the clouds.

Getting ready for the hike.

It's a steep 7 km (4.5 mile) climb up to the viewing area. And you gain 2,200' in altitude during that climb.

Most people take a horse, but out of our group of nine, only two did that. Pretty hardy group we've got!

Owenita and Larry on their horses.

Heading up the trail.

There is still some sunshine peaking through.

Towards the end, the trail became pretty steep.

Heading uphill.

We arrived at the altiplano at 9,900' altitude.

Then we had to walk into the forest on the left and gain another 200' altitude. The butterfly viewing area is at 10,100'.

A solitary monarch.

And all of his friends.

It was cool and cloudy and the butterflies were sleeping.

We stood and watched and waited, hoping for the sun to make an appearance. It doesn't take much... ten minutes of full sun would have a lot of the butterflies take to the air.

This one tree trunk is literally covered with butterflies.


And then the sun made an appearance! We had a full five minutes of sunshine... just enough for the butterflies to open their wings. It's almost like their wings are some kind of solar panel that collects energy for them. And some of them took to the air. The clouds came in again, then we had another two minutes, enough to energize a few more of them.

When the sun hits the butterflies, they open their wings.

I took a short video for you...

One of the reasons we have made so many trips to see the butterflies is that it is such an odd miracle of nature that the scientists do not yet have figured out. Why do the butterflies come here? Why do they all huddle on such a small group of trees? How do they know to come back to the same area year after year even when they think it is a completely different group of butterflies each year?

Out of our seven different visits, we have only had one where conditions were close to ideal. Yesterday was better than last week though. I think our next visit has to be planned for late February. Our guide seemed to think that you have a better chance of better conditions then.

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And in Canada...


  1. Replies
    1. Most definitely! It is something that we highly recommend people take the time to see if at all possible, at least once in your life. :-)

  2. Despite the conditions not being perfect, it's stil an amazing experience...

    1. Absolutely! We have never once in our seven visits been disappointed. It sure would be nice to see them all flying around but just to see them clumped in the trees is quite the sight. :-)

  3. Still a jaw dropping sight! Envious and happy that the group went to two sanctuaries back to back.

    1. Yep, that is for sure! It is so hard to describe what you see, and the pictures are great but they still doesn't do the sight justice, it is something that you really need to see with your own eyes. :-)

  4. Thank you again for such beautiful pictures!

    1. You are very welcome, we are glad that you enjoyed them. :-)

  5. This is truly amazing! Thank you; blessings... Lynn (blogger: Life with Lynnie)

  6. Even if conditions were not completely ideal, you got some stunning photographs! Thanks for sharing them with us. What an experience that must be!

    1. Thank you Emily! Next time we visit the butterflies we will do it in February, maybe then we will have perfect conditions but this was still a great visit. It is by far our favourite location to see the butterflies because of the lack of people. :-)


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