Which is the best guided tour to Mexico?

Now that I’m  … mature…   tours are my preferred way to travel.  I like to leave my brains at home, and just enjoy that someone else is taking care of all the details, knows what to do in an emergency, knows what is safe and what isn’t, and can provide me with advice on what to bring, what the weather will be like, and answer all my questions.    And I have come to learn that I miss some of the best things when doing it on my own.

For those who prefer less structure, or who want to save money, stay tuned for my next blog, on traveling to the reserves on your own.

Here is my review of tours currently available.  Your experiences, comments and suggestions are invited.

The best bang for your buck is provided Explora Latin America.    If you’re flying all the way to Mexico, why not get a real feel for the country?  10 days including THREE monarch sanctuaries.  They provide a detailed itinerary, and excellent customer service.  Friends of mine took this tour and loved every minute of it.  How can Explora do it for so much less than all the others?  First of all, there is one guide who does it all.  He/she is local, so has a relationship with all the providers.  Your meal isn’t being served quickly enough?  No problem, your guide will go to the back to see what’s going on.  For some parts of the trip, public transportation is used.  Not only do you travel with the locals, but you won’t believe how comfortable the buses are.  Some even have internet!  Breakfasts are included.  Meals are cheap and fun in Mexico;  you’ll love choosing your own.  Small group!  Just 12, max. https://www.exploralatinamerica.com.mx/monarch-butterflies/?fbclid=IwAR1fUe_SsDCkwOZfU0H_h7q2AX8Ns1_K8I5kySR-aoFGjfNP2VvTb9YgTZ0

Holbrook Travel has extensive experience in nature adventure travel.   Author and founder of Brenda’s Butterfly Habitat, Brenda Dziedzic has traveled with this group several times.  Like many others, she likes the science part of the experience, explained by lepidopterist Dr. Thomas Emmel,  at after dinner presentations.   You’ll see the world famous pyramids as well.  $ US 1775 includes 5 days, two sanctuaries, listed meals, airport transfers, and admissions.   Their popular tours fill up quickly, so check the website often to see when the 2019 dates are posted.  See the detailed 2018 itinerary here:   https://secure.holbrooktravel.com/S/Lisa/2018/Fairn-Mexico%20Monarch/DD%20AE%20NH%20MX%2018-%20Mystical%20Migration%20.pdf

If you would like to go first class, check out World Wildlife Federation’s tours.   They must be doing something right, because they have posted 17 departures for 2019!  About $ US 3,400 for 6 days.  You go to El Rosario twice, once in the early morning, and once in the afternoon, for very different experiences.  You’ll see Sierra Chincua as well.  And only this trip visits the beautiful artsy town of Valle de Bravo, which is on a pretty lake.  Another good visit is the Cosmovitral Botanical Garden with its wrap around floor to ceiling modern art glass windows, which blew me away when I was there, to my utter surprise.    And if you want to start your day earlier, you can participate in a guided bird watching trip!  See the detailed itinerary here:  https://www.nathab.com/central-america/monarch-butterfly-tour/itinerary/

If you are looking for a quickie  I would highly recommend Monarch Sister Schools.  You’ll get to see the world renowned pyramids, the best monarch sanctuary, and two Mexican schools, all in a long weekend!  Another highlight is the guided tour of MSS partner Alternare’s Sustainable Agricultural Training.  It’s a training center where people learn conservation and agriculture so they don’t need to cut the forest!   All meals and admissions are included for $US 995.  Check the link for the full itinerary.   http://www.monarchsisterschools.org/travel-to-monarch-country/  Extensions available.

S&S Tours can help you plan a custom itinerary, with our without a guide, for your group.  A friend of mine had a good experience with them.

Craftours has recently started to offer trips to Mexico.  I would not recommend them.  The company specializes in tours for crafters.  This is my experience from traveling with them in 2017.  They did not understand that one needs to get up early in the morning to see the butterflies, rather than start the day at 10:30, as crafters might want to.  We were late and rushed with everything. They actually have a policy of not providing a detailed itinerary until two months before the departure date, making it impossible to compare value.  When the itinerary eventually did come through, it was so inaccurate that travellers were inconvenienced and had to spend money unnecessarily.  They will not help you find a room mate unless you put down a deposit.  Communication is very difficult, with many participants complaining that they had to email or call three or four times to get a response.  The land rep had no experience or interest in learning about monarchs or guests, preferring to park herself on the front seat of the bus for the entire trip.  There was no water on the bus, even though it was promised, and the rep did not have a working GPS to help prevent getting lost 4 times on the first two days.   Poor customer service, price switching when you register, and an owner completely lacking in integrity.

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