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MORELIA

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-Santuario de la Mariposa Monarca - Sanctuary of the Monarch Butterfly, every year the Monarch Butterfly travels nearly 4.800 kilometres from Canada and the Northern areas of the United States seeking a safe haven in the Forests of Oyamel (3,200 m.a.s.l.) in the East of Michoacán State, where it dwells and breeds between November and March.

The flying travel of this insect is simply amazing. Every day these small Lepidoptera flies some 120 kilometres at an average speed of 20 kilometres per hour, reaching heights of 50 metres over flatlands and only ten across the mountains. A moving effort that concludes at their arrival to the Sierra Madre, where five sanctuaries have been created in order of protecting them. Two of these sanctuaries are open to tourists: "Sierra Chincua" in Angangueo and "El Rosario" in Ocampo.

Scientists and scholars have remained unable to unravel the secrets of this long travelling. It is actually unknown by which means are the butterflies able to get oriented, most of all for the fact that no single butterfly does the round trip (their span of life is of only a few months). Some scientists sustain that they find the correct route thanks to a strange magnetic phenomena.
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    What we do know is that the butterflies attain their sexual maturity in Spring, so they are compelled to emigrate to areas where low temperatures would keep them drowsy until their time for reproduction comes.

    In February, when heat begins to rise, the monarch starts mating. Males waste all of their energies in the task and will die soon after coupling. Females live a while longer and lay their eggs on the asclepiads (the venomous plant the fed upon). After ten days the eggs will hatch and the caterpillars will come out. Once they have grown, each of them gets fixed to a branch, and knits a delicate cocoon around itself, which will help them complete their metamorphosis.

    When this process ends, they come out of the cocoon and simultaneously raise flight, forming orange coloured clouds. The emigration is done in March and in the woods of Michoacán remain only the rests of the monarchs who came whence North. The same cycle will start again next November, following the inexorable rules of nature.

    The sanctuary is situated at the City of Angangueo, at only 184 kilometres to the East of Morelia. It is recommended to visit the zone in December, the best time to watch the monarch butterfly.

    -Cuitzeo, is a picturesque and peaceful town, located at only 34 kilometres to the North of Morelia through the roadway to Salamanca. The simple lines of its buildings makes a deep contrast with the architectonical splendour of the Augustine Convent of Santa María Magdalena, a plateresque beauty from the 16th century, containing engravings and paints done by indigene artisans.

    The Town lays at the shores of a salt lake. From its waters can be hooked catfishes, carps, charales and blancos. Between October and March this natural area turns into the winter refuge for Canadian ducks, swallows and borregotes.

    At the shoreline of this Lake grows a cane known as chuspata or tule, which the people of the place use as prime material for making hats, baskets and other works.

    Visitors to Cuitzeo must take an excursion to Tres Cerritos, an archaeological area of the so called Horizonte Clásico Tardío or Late Classical Horizon (between the 9th and 11th centuries A.D.). The remains of a temple, squares, shrines and platforms were preserved in this place.

    It is located only two kilometres from the Town. It can be visited from Tuesdays to Sundays between 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

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