One of the greatest migrations on earth, witness monarch butterflies in their tens of millions on a eight-day trip to Mexico. Combine this natural phenomenon with the colonial jewels of Morelia, Patzcuaro and San Miguel de Allende and you have yourself a visual feast. Just don't forget the camera.
When you arrive in Mexico City you will connect to the onwards hour-long flight to Morelia, one of Mexico's most alluring old cities. The Michoacan capital is a little off-the-beaten-track so much of its splendour feels largely untouched.
Depending on what time you land, you should have time to explore Morelia's 17th and 18th century colonial mansions as well as its graceful churches, all with an expert private guide. Make a pit-stop at a local taqueria for lunch before a private transfer to Patzcuaro, an hour away and your base for the next few nights. Check into your hotel and enjoy your first evening at leisure.
Meet your guide for a full day touring the highlands and Lake Patzcuaro. While Patzcuaro has become synonymous with the Day of the Dead celebrations, there's plenty to see away from the festival.
One such highlight is the ancient city of Tzintzuntzan, where the indigenous Purepecha tribe resided from the 12th to the 14th century. It boasts five semi-circular Yacata temples used for ceremonial purposes, overlooking the sparkling waters of Lake Patzcuaro. Continue to Santa Clara del Cobre where the locals have been crafting copper since the pre-Hispanic era. Your guide will take you behind the scenes in a studio to watch four generations of one family craft copper works of art. Wander around the cobbled streets before returning to Patzcuaro.
After breakfast, your private chauffeur will drive you through rugged forestland towards the city of Zitacuaro, near your butterfly-watching base. En route, stop off at charming Cuitzeo to visit its 16th century former monastery and mosey along its narrow streets lined with white buildings with thatched roofs. Then head on to your lodge in the nearby pine forests.
Every year, monarch butterflies make a great migration spanning over some 3,700 miles. After breakfast, a private transfer will take you to El Rosario, one of Mexico's major reserves. Boot up and walk for an hour through the fir trees.
As the trail heads deep into the forest, you'll soon reach our secret spot from where to see this natural phenomenon up close. Nothing can quite prepare you for the sight of butterflies by the tens of million, their orange and black wings shimmering in the forest. As you watch this extraordinary spectacle, your guide will enlighten you on the ecology and history as well as the conservation issues that the monarchs face today.
Today you will visit the Sierra Chincua Reserve, another hotspot for butterfly activity, and where you can watch the forest come to life from a different perspective. Soak up your last glimpses of this epic natural phenomenon before your journey to Morelia, where you'll arrive in the evening.
Head towards Mexico's colonial jewel, San Miguel de Allende. A private driver will take you approximately two-and-a-half hours to this special city in the highlands.
After checking into your hotel, drop your bags and explore this storybook setting of gold-hued facades, gorgeous churches and charming artisan studios. Later this evening, your guide will meet you for a wine tasting just outside the city where you can sip on superlative tipples and dine on local cuisine.
As well as architectural and artistic splendour, San Miguel de Allende has become something of a gourmet capital. Today you can experience the region's traditional street eats on a fun-filled streetfood tasting tour.
Accompanied by a culinary connoisseur, foodies can chow down on steaming tamales infused with chilli, fragrant chickpea dishes and cheese from the best local cheese factories in the area. Sweet tooth? Make sure to stop for churros dipped in melted chocolate - all artisanal of course. Enjoy organic salad and vegetables picked from the highlands and light, fluffy crepes made from scratch. You'll gain insight into the local culture, one bite at a time.
Today a private chauffeur will take you to Del Bajio airport in good time for your flight home.