Paragliding for dummies Le voyage des papillons Monarques
© lyndsay nicole -monarcaexpedition

Last update : 14/05/2021

The annual migration of the monarch butterfly from North America is a unique and astonishing phenomenon. It is the emblem of Valle de Bravo, gave its name to a paragliding competition, and inspired a paraglider for his latest challenge.

The kings of free flight!

The monarch is the only butterfly known to perform a round trip migration like birds do. Unlike other butterflies which can hibernate as larvae or pupae, monarchs cannot survive the cold winters of northern climates. Monarchs know when it's time to travel south for the winter. Scientists still don't know how they manage to travel so many kilometers without getting lost.

They use a combination of air currents and thermals to travel long distances.
Doesn't that remind you of anything? This is precisely what we are trying to do by paraglider.
Some fly up to 5000 kilometers to reach their winter house ... which is located at Mexico, a few kilometers from the village of Valle de Bravo !

monarca migration mexico
Migration of monarchs from Canada to Mexico

Where is it, When is it?

Piedra Herrada is one of three sanctuaries of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve located in the State of Mexico. Located between Temascaltepec and Valle de Bravo, visitors from all over the world can experience the most spiritual experience nature can offer. It's a one-of-a-kind show, which you won't see anywhere else.

On good days, it is even possible to go there by flying a paraglider. The itinerary is detailed in the section cross-country (xc) of the site : Saucos and Monarcas. Otherwise you can go there by taxi, for a well-deserved rest day, after hours of paragliding flights. However, avoid going there on a cloudy day, because like us, on those days, they stay quiet. On site, you can take a guide, who will take you to the oyamels (milkweed in French), these endemic trees, which serve as refuges. You can also go there on horseback, because it trudges a bit.

Butterflies arrive in November, around the time of “the feast of the dead”. It's here Toussaint with us, and it's a big event in Mexico (el dia de la muertos). In fact, for many Mexicans, it is as if their ancestors came back to visit them. Their habitat is threatened by the exploitation of the forest by man.
They go back to their home country in March, after spending the winter there. I decided to do the same 😉

Do you want more ?

You want some know more ? (wikipedia)

Monarca Expedition - FlyMonarca (Ben Jordan)

Benjamin jordan is a paraglider adventurer, who finances these expeditions by filming his adventures.
I have had the privilege of knowing him for over 10 years now. He was going to sleep hard in Annecy, and I offered to share with him to come and squat my campsite in Annecy. Two days later, I hosted him in Grenoble, before he presented his first film at the Icarus Cup. At the time it was a question of crossing all of Canada by paramotor. Since then, water has flowed under the bridges, but Ben's projects are always engaged and poetic at the same time. He always travels light, eating Chinese soups and peanut butter, but never forgets to pack his Banjo, or his ukulele!

His latest project had the ambition to leave the Mexican border to reach his native Canada. Like the Monarch butterflies, when they are on their way home.

And he got there! 2835 kilometers of flight-bivouac including 2157 kilometers of flight from November 2020 to April 2021. Hats off to the artist!
You will find his adventure on his site: and you can get his movie:  flymonarca on VOD / DVD.

Here's the movie trailer to whet your appetite:


Monarca Open: an annual paragliding competition

Monarch butterflies have given their name to a competition open to all, as long as you have your confirmed pilot's license. This "Open" attracts many paragliders from all over the world every year for a week and for almost 20 years! In 2020, the competition was canceled due to the pandemic, but we still organized a competition between us this year. Happy family.
Information and reservations:

If you are not coming for the competition, I advise you to avoid this period, because takeoff is closed for a good part of the day, and there are a lot of people. A good hearer!

The following video illustrates the atmosphere and the phenomena of confluences that must be exploited in paragliding, and which are the characteristic of this site. You can put the subtitles in French, if you have a little trouble!

So much for this article which aimed to introduce you to these amazing butterflies!

The Monarcas, one more reason to visit Mexico this winter, for a beautiful paragliding trip !


Parapentiste depuis plus de 20 ans, je suis le créateur de ce site. Moniteur à l'école de parapente des Grands Espaces paragliding school, j'aurais peut-être le plaisir de vous faire survoler le lac d'Annecy en parapente. Je migre l'hiver à Valle de Bravo (Mexique). Hasta pronto ! More info

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