Monarchs of Mexico 2018


February 23 to March 1, 2018      

Note: A valid passport with expiration date at least 6 months beyond travel dates is required.

Virtually all monarch butterflies found east of the Rocky Mountains in the US and Canada migrate to the mountains of central Mexico in the autumn.  Here they cluster by the millions in just a few patches of mountain forest within the Transvolcanic Mountain Range, west of Mexico City.  Join Mark Garland, Director of the Cape May Monarch Monitoring Project, for a visit to three of the Reserves where astounding numbers of wintering monarch butterflies may be seen.  Along with visiting preserves, get a taste of the history and culture of Mexico.

Many thousands of Monarch butterflies pass through Cape May each autumn on a migratory journey.  Weighing just 1/2 gram, they must navigate over 2,000 miles to the forested mountains of central Mexico.  Many perish along the way.  Once in Mexico, these seemingly fragile butterflies while away the winter, waiting for spring to return to Mexico, and the U.S. and Canada.  On some unknown cue in March, they break dormancy and head north, mating along the way.  Females lay their eggs on milkweed plants growing in northern Mexico or the extreme southern U.S.  Their offspring continue the journey north, repopulating much of temperate North America, where two or three non-migrating generations occur during the warmer months.  Then, in autumn, the migration begins again with a migrating Monarch generation heading to the same areas in Mexico where their great-great grandparents spent the previous winter.


This is an active adventure in high-altitude conditions (over 10,000 feet).  Participants should be in good health and able to hike comfortably at high elevation for a distance of 2-3 miles to the colony site and then back the same way (could be around 5 miles of hiking in one day).  Typically, the hike takes between 1 and 2 hours, but the colony site location varies throughout the season, so hiking times and distances may vary.  There may be opportunities to hire a horse (at an additional cost of about $10 each way per day) for travel to one or more of the reserves.


Tour size is limited to 14 participants.

Additional information about the tour, with specific meeting times, a list of participants, addresses of motels, lists of things to bring, a reading list, a list of probable/possible birds, further information about weather, dress, etc., will be mailed to all participants well in advance of the tour.  This tour is being offered in partnership with Holbrook Travel.

DATES: Friday, February 23 to Wednesday, March 1, 2018 (flights home on March 1)

PRICE: Cost for this tour is $2,750 per person based on double occupancy; single supplement (if you request single occupancy, or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate for you) is $475. A deposit of $500 will hold your place until November 20, 2017 when full payment becomes due.

PRICE INCLUDES: Price includes full time guide for duration of program, accommodations, meals (beginning dinner Friday Feb. 23 thru breakfast on March 1), entrance fees and activities listed in itinerary, private vehicle transportation unless otherwise noted in itinerary, non-alcoholic beverages with meals and carbon offset.

Price does not include airfare to/from Mexico, trip insurance, alcoholic beverages, phone calls, laundry, or items of a personal nature.

Download Tour Registration Form here


NJ Audubon Eco-Travel
c/o Center for Research and Education
600 Route 47 North
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
Phone: (609) 400-3852
Please make checks payable to New Jersey Audubon


by email to travel@njaudubon.org


Mark Garland: Mark Garland is an Associate Naturalist for the Cape May Bird Observatory.  He lives in West Cape May and works as a freelance naturalist.  He has held the position of Senior Naturalist for the Cape May Bird Observatory and also for the Audubon Naturalist Society, based in the Washington, D.C., area.  He has led eco-tours for various organizations for twenty-five years, leading well over 150 trips to date, along with countless field trips within the mid-Atlantic states.  Mark has been leading tours across the US and to many other countries for over 30 years, with well over 200 tours under his belt.  He has led trips for NJ Audubon, Audubon Naturalist Society, Massachusetts Audubon, the Smithsonian Associates and other organizations.

He is the author of the book Watching Nature: A Mid-Atlantic Natural History, published by the Smithsonian Press in 1997, and of the chapter Canal Walk in the Anthology City Birding, published by Stackpole Books in 2003.  

Mark founded the Cape Charles, Virginia, Monarch butterfly research project in 1995, and in 2015 he became the Director of the Monarch Monitoring Project in Cape May, New Jersey.  He has co-authored 3 scientific papers on the Cape Charles monarch migration project.  Mark currently runs his own small company, Garland Cunningham LLC, which plans and conducts all the programs  he leads along with tours led by other naturalists

~~ Photos courtesy Mark Garland and Holbrook Travel

For tour itineraries, to register, or for more information contact:

NJ Audubon Eco-Travel at: (609)-400-3852
c/o NJ Audubon Center for Research and Education
600 Route 47 North
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
or email