Monarch Butterflies 2020: El Rosario Sanctuary in Michoacan
You may remember last year I posted about my first journey to El Rosario Butterfly Sanctuary in Michoacan, Mexico. This year was clearly very different in Covid times and I kept a watch on the news in the weeks before we went, mostly to find out when they would open.
Some theorized these would be closed but most of those people are people who have never been here. For those who live in that area, the monarch butterfly tourism is their ONLY source of income so the show must go on, even with coronavirus restrictions.
Monarch Butterflies 2020 Coronavirus Restrictions in Place!
I read online that strict mask regulations, social distancing would be in place. What we found in reality is a theatrical shell of what they threatened which actually made it a nice experience.
For one masks were only required to get in the place. They took temperatures and sprayed literally whole body on both sides before letting us in.
How to see the Butterflies
Last year we went with family in the family car and it took all day. We arrived in the afternoon and left early evening. This time we decided to use the public transport system to get there. From Zitacuaro bus station, it’s less than 100 pesos in transportation to get out directly to the sanctuary. Mexico is amazing for super cheap public transportation.
Monarch Butterflies 2020 Differences from Last Year
Last year the admission was 50 pesos, this year it was 80 mainly because they sent a guide with every group to enforce restrictions. In reality they just hiked with you. I took my mask off during the uphill hike repeatedly and he said nothing. What he did say is that the butterflies arrived at the end of October and were mostly sleeping now, which explained the fact that I hadn’t seen even one.
Want to help the butterfly population? Buy some milkweed seeds!
Monarch Butterflies 2020 Impact of Coronavirus
As far as I am concerned the only thing about the butterflies that the coronavirus messed up was the timing, had they been allowed to open a month earlier when the butterflies arrived, it would have been better for everyone both customer and those who make their living on this tourist venture. Part of what was so life changing about visiting the butterflies last year I realized was how excited they were. You saw them as soon as you got to the sanctuary.
But this time we saw none until we reached the top where they rested. We went early so part of the reason they were sleeping was because it was early and cold. One other difference this year totally unrelated to coronavirus was the hike was longer as the sanctuary workers said that the migration settled deeper into the forest this year.
In reality I had some anxiety about the guide but halfway up I realized it was nice. At the top I had the issue of needed to pee but no restrooms and the guy took me off and basically directed me off trail so I could use the woods. I was eternally grateful for this.
Monarch Butterflies 2020: Sleeping Before It Even Opened
I can’t say I can tell if there were more or less in population than last year because they were so dormant. Much of what is shown in the video in this post is just darkened heavy trees, which were coated in totally dormant butterflies. Sometime in February they’re expected to wake up and make their journey north to feed and reproduce. My plan is to return then to hopefully see them in flight.
The sanctuaries will remain open for the rest of the season with these imposed restrictions. Truthfully, for those concerned with doing physical activity with a mask on, they’re very lenient about it.
Check out my post from last year’s visit, here.
Check out Monarch Watch for more information about the butterflies!