Great Monarch Migration

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DESCRIPTION

MAIN Tour Dates:

First Week: JANUARY 5-10, 2025 SOLD OUT

Second Week Added: January 12-17, 2025

OPTIONAL Mexico City Add-On Tour:

January 10-11, 2025 or

January 17-18, 2025

DESCRIPTION

Rare opportunity to photograph one of the world’s most unique and phenomenal wildlife events in the world – the great Monarch Butterfly Migration. Hundreds of thousands of monarchs take to the sky each year, some traveling as far as 3,000 miles, and winter in large clusters in the fir trees in the forested highlands of Mexico.  The North American Monarch is the only butterfly known that makes this 2-way migration as birds do. Bring your camera gear and get ready to capture some of the most beautiful scenes of this rare phenomenon. In addition, you will have opportunities to photograph landscapes, birds, architecture, traditional villages, markets and local people.

This tour starts and ends in Mexico City and is guided by local experienced naturalist, Fernando Romo, who has a science background and is an expert in this migration and Anne Ewasko, who is a nature photographer and a member of the CPC community. This small group experience is limited to only 8 travelers and exclusively designed for the Richard Stromberg’s Photography School community. Take this opportunity to immerse yourself in this wildlife wonder-of-nature while also experiencing the local culture, traditional villages and the beauty of the natural scenery it is surrounded in.

OPTIONAL Mexico City Add-On Tour “Pyramids & Palace”: Stay an extra day/night and experience the ancient Teotihuacan Pyramids & the architecture of the world-renowned Palacio de Bellas Artes showcasing some of Diego Rivera’s most famous artwork.

ITINERARY

DAY 1: MEXICO CITY – Sunday, January 5, 2025

Mexico City is the vibrant capital of Mexico and sits at an elevation of 7,000 feet – famous for its pyramids, Aztec heritage, architecture and its rich art and food scene. You will be staying in a beautiful hotel in the heart of it all. The first evening, you will enjoy a  “Welcome Dinner” at the historic 100-yr old Mexican restaurant, Cafe de Tacuba, where you can sample some of Mexico’s most traditional dishes and meet your fellow travelers.

DAY 2: MEXICO CITY to EL ROSARIO RESERVE – Monday, January 6, 2025

After breakfast, you will be driven four hours to the mountains above Mexico City to the El Rosario Biosphere Reserve, which sits at an elevation of 10,000 ft (nearly 2 miles above sea level) and is one of the prime locations where you can witness the monarchs wintering in huge colonies in the Oyamel fir trees. Along the way, Fernando will provide you with an in-depth overview of the butterfly migration and insights on the local culture and the history of the conservation efforts of the communities. Prior to arrival at the reserve, you will enjoy lunch at Don Gabino for some traditional local Mexican cuisine in the old mining town of Angangueo. The afternoon will be spent at the El Rosario Reserve, where you will begin your Monarch experience. Here, you will be led on horseback by guides who will control your horse (so no riding experience necessary) for a short lift to the top of the mountain and then hike to where the monarch colonies are at the time. You will have plenty of time to experience this one-of-a-kind destination to capture amazing images of this unique phenomenon. You will be staying at a traditional hotel, Rancho Cumbre Monarca in nearby Ocampo, where you will enjoy a meal prepared by this family-run inn that is known for its mole. Have the evening free to rest, sit by a campfire or work on your edits.

DAY 3: CHINCUA RESERVE & ANGANGUEO MINING VILLAGE – Tuesday, January 7, 2025

Your day will start with a traditional breakfast at the hotel. After, you will be driven to the Chincua Biosphere Reserve which is one of the most preserved forests for the monarchs and is run by the local community, the “ejidatarios”. Guided horses will take you up the mountain and then you will hike in the beautiful forest to where the monarchs are most concentrated. Here you will have time to photograph the colonies in the morning sunlight. Lunch will be at the reserve at an open kitchen restaurant where you can witness the local cooks prepare your traditional lunch. After lunch, you will be taken to the beautiful mining village of Angangueo to witness how conservation benefits the local community. We will begin at the main square and branch out to explore the history, architecture, beautiful murals and local markets. Angangueo provides the perfect backdrop for street and architecture photography. Dinner will be back at the hotel and your evening is free to rest, explore the area and/or work on edits.

DAY 4: EL ROSARIO RESERVE to JUNGAPEO – Wednesday, January 8, 2025

After breakfast at the hotel, you will return to the El Rosario Reserve to capture the Monarch colonies in the morning light. Lunch will be at the reserve where you can experience a variety of mountain-style cuisine and have time to shop at the local handicraft market. After lunch, you will be driven an hour to the village of Jungapeo. You will be staying at the beautiful Agua Blanca Hotel known for its amazing natural setting. Here you will have freetime to enjoy the hypothermal hot springs or you can, for an additional cost, opt for an experience in a traditional “Temazcal” (sweat lodge) or perhaps a massage to wind down for a relaxing afternoon. Dinner will be at the hotel while enjoying the views of their gardens.

DAY 5: JUNGAPEO to MEXICO CITY – Thursday, January 9, 2025

This morning, you have the option for an early morning birding excursion on the grounds of the hotel. After birding, breakfast will be enjoyed at the hotel. After breakfast, you will have the option to relax more in the thermal waters or partake in a hike to the nearby waterfall for some excellent landscape and nature photography. Lunch will at the hotel. After lunch, you will be driven back to Mexico City where you will check into your hotel for your final night (unless you are doing the Add-on Tour). In the evening, a “Farewell Dinner” will be provided to share your memories of your Mexico adventure and to say farewell to your new friends.

DAY 6: DEPART MEXICO CITY, Friday, January 10, 2025

Breakfast will be provided at the hotel prior to your departure from Mexico City.

OR

Mexico City Add-On Tour “Pyramids & Palace” – Additional $550

Stay an extra day/night and experience Mexico City’s famous Teotihuacan Pyramids & the world-renowned Palacio de Bellas Artes.

What’s Included: Extra night hotel, breakfast, lunch at “La Gruta” cave restaurant in Teotihuacan, transportation, local tour guide, entry fee & guided tours of the Pyramids and Palacio de Bellas Artes.

An early morning departure will be needed to capture this full day of fun! Mexican pastries & delicacies will be provided for breakfast as you are driven the hour drive to the ancient site of Teotihuacan. Here you will be able to photograph the morning light coming over the famous “Pyramid of the Sun” and “Pyramid of the Moon” as your expert historian of these pyramids guides you through its amazing history. From there, you will enjoy lunch in the cool cave restaurant “La Gruta” to dine on the ancient recipes of the Teotihuacan people. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience. After lunch, you will head back to Mexico City to admire the architecturally significant “Palacio de Bellas Artes”. This combination of art-nouveau, neo-classical and art deco has been the gem of Mexico City since the beginning of the 20th century and is a phenomenal opportunity for photography. It houses the famous murals of Diego Rivera, Gonzalez Camarena and Siqueiros plus the world-renowned opera house with its Tiffany glass fireproof curtain. Your guide is an art historian and specializes in the architecture and art of the palace where you will learn so much. After, you have the option to be driven back to the hotel or stay in the area to explore on your own. Evening and dinner will be on your own to enjoy your last night in Mexico City.

DAY 7: MEXICO CITY, Saturday, March 9, 2024

Breakfast will be provided at the hotel prior to your departure from Mexico City.

WHAT’S INCLUDED:

  • Naturalist Guide & Translator
  • Expedition Coordinator
  • Photography Instruction – this is not a formal class but guidance will be provided to better hone your skills at whatever level you are at
  • Hotel in Mexico City – 2 Nights
  • Hotel in Ocampo – 2 Nights
  • Hotel in Jungapeo – 1 Night
  • Meals: All Breakfasts, Lunches & Dinners (food & soft drinks)
  • Welcome Dinner at Cafe Tacuba (food, beer, wine & soft drinks)
  • Farewell Dinner Party in Mexico City (food, beer, wine & soft drinks)
  • All ground transportation (except airport transfers)
  • All entrance fees and horseback rides at Butterfly Reserves
  • What’s Included Additional Add-On Mexico City “Pyramids & Palace”: Extra night hotel, breakfast, lunch at “La Gruta” cave restaurant, transportation, local tour guide, entry fee & guided tours of the Pyramids and Palacio de Bellas Artes.

 WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED:

  • Airfare to and from Mexico City
  • Airport transfers
  • Travel Insurance
  • Additional food, snacks, drinks
  • Tips for guides & driver
  • What’s Not Included Additional Add-On Mexico City “Pyramids & Palace”: Dinner

COST OF MAIN TRIP: $3300 per person (Double Occupancy) $3500 (Single Supplement) and includes everything listed above.

PAYMENT: 50% upon registration. Remaining 50% due on or before September 15, 2024.

COST OF “MEXICO CITY” ADD-ON TRIP: $550 per person

CANCELLATION POLICY: 100% prior to September 1, 2024. Prior to November 1, 50% refund. Prior to December 1, 2024, 25% refund. After December 1, 2024, no refund.

IMPORTANT STUFF TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:

  • Upon registration, you will be sent a complete list of necessities and more details of what to expect so you can plan on what to bring and what not to bring
  • This trip was specifically planned during the week so you will have the option to come in earlier and/or stay later to explore some of Mexico City on the weekends – a list of highlights and contacts for Mexico City activities can be provided if you opt to do this
  • Travel itinerary and accommodations may be subject to change – we will try our best to stick to it but sometimes adjustments are needed that are beyond our control (ie. traffic delays, hotel closing, etc.)
  • Travel Insurance is highly recommended – again, we will make every effort to make this tour go as planned but sometimes things happen that are beyond our control and if the tour gets canceled, we cannot guarantee full refunds (ie. pandemics, Acts of God, etc.)

MEET YOUR GUIDES:

FERNANDO ROMO:

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Fernando has been introducing people to the wonders of nature on guided ecotours for the past 20 years. His passion for nature conservation and photography has taken him all over Mexico, Columbia, Ecuador, Panama, Galapagos Islands, Argentina, Chile and Alaska, to name a few. He loves to share this passion with fellow travelers, family and friends, and support local communities in order to conserve and protect the different habitats and species through their sustainable use.

Born and raised in Mexico City, Fernando currently resides in beautiful Puerto Vallarta where he stayed after his studies in Marine Biology. He has been involved in various research projects including the photo identification of Humpback Whales & Bottlenose Dolphins, the conservation of the Blue Footed Boobies on the Marietas Islands and studies on the Sea Turtle Nesting Camps. He has been a member of the Mexican Society for the Study of Marine Mammals since 2000.

He has led numerous expeditions to the annual Monarch Butterfly migration up the trans-volcanic belt in the mountains of Mexico. He is an expert birder and is highly sought after for his birding tours as he has an extreme talent for spotting the rarest birds and being able to photograph them. With his marine biology background, he is high in demand for his whale watching photo expeditions as well.

Fernando is extremely passionate about what he does and it rubs off on all those who travel with him. Whether you are a beginner or novice conservation traveler, Fernando makes sure that you are comfortable every step of the way. His goal is to provide his travelers with “the time of their life” as they experience these unique occurrences in nature and to have them walk away with some of his passion and knowledge for these amazing creatures so that they and their habitats can stay protected.

ANNE EWASKO: