• Monarch Butterflies © Worldwide Quest

Mexico City with the Urban Birder

Historic Parks, Highland Forests, and Monarch butterflies

Sunday, February 18th – Sunday, February 25th, 2024 | 8 Days

In association with Quest Nature Tours

Tour leader

David Lindo, also known as “The Urban Birder” is a broadcaster, writer, naturalist, photographer, public speaker, and tour leader. Through TV appearances, writing, talks, and travel, he inspires people to re-look at their urban environments and believes wildlife in urban areas is so easy to engage with. All we have to do is open our eyes, ears, hearts, and minds and soon we will be linked into the nature around us.

Tour overview

One of the world’s great cities, Mexico City is a draw for travellers who can enjoy monuments and lively public places steeped in centuries of history and culture. The city is also a wonderful birding destination, as it holds, both within the urban area and around its fringes, parks and reserves that collectively span several distinct habitats. These include oak and pine forests, cacti-filled deserts, and wetlands. Nearby to the west is one of the prime wintering sites of Monarch butterflies that have made the harrowing journey southward from Canada and the United States. Potentially millions of Monarchs cling to trees at the Piedra Herrada reserve, weighing down branches and placing visitors among a spell-binding flourish of orange and black. This region is one of the best places to see the jaw-dropping Mexico endemic Red Warbler as well as a multitude of colourful highland birds.

Within Mexico City itself, wander along a colonial avenue leading to an opulent castle in Chapultepec Park, one of the largest urban green spaces in the world. Sit back and enjoy local food at Xochimilco while drifting along on a peaceful boat ride among the famous canals. Wading birds like White-faced Ibises and Snowy Egrets feed at close range, while Belted Kingfishers dive into the calm waters and Green Jays work scrubby edges. Desert flora and oak forest abound in Sierra de Guadalupe State Park in the northern part of Mexico City. In this dry protected area, scan the vast open stretches for roadrunners and songbirds. End each day’s intriguing exploration with meals featuring such gastronomical delights as pan dulce, tostadas, tacos, and enchiladas.

Join us to explore Mexico City through a birding lens and prepare yourself to be surprised by just how much avian life this remarkable city has to offer.

Signature Moments

  • Birding in Chapultepec Park
  • Enjoying local foods while floating down the Xochimilco canals
  • Observing Monarch butterflies at Piedra Herrada
  • Finding Red Warblers in fir and pine forests
  • Searching for desert birds in Sierra de Guadalupe State Park

Itinerary at-a-glance

Day 1: Arrive to Mexico City

Day 2: Chapultepec Park: Castle and botanical gardens

Day 3: UNAM Botanical Gardens / Xochimilco canals

Day 4: Travel to Valle de Bravo / Butterflies and birds at Piedra Herrada

Day 5: Birding on hotel grounds / Valle de Bravo-area hotspots

Day 6: Monte Alto Reserve / Free afternoon in Mexico City

Day 7: Sierra de Guadalupe State Park / Farewell Dinner

Day 8: Depart Mexico City

Daily Itinerary

Sunday, February 18: Arrive in Mexico City

This afternoon after our arrival, we transfer to our beautiful hotel in Mexico City’s stylish Circulo Condesa, which exudes a European flavour with its Art Deco apartments and ornamental Art Nouveau mansions. After a briefing and trip overview with David, enjoy culinary Mexican delights at our Welcome Dinner.

Meals: Welcome Dinner. Overnight: Hotel Circulo Condesa, Mexico City.

Monday, February 19: Chapultepec Park: Castle, botanical gardens, and Paseo de la Reforma

A short drive from our hotel is Chapultepec Park or “Bosque de Chapultepec,” a sweeping green space covering 686 hectares (1,700 acres). Both Aztec ruins and preserved colonial architecture offer reminders of a colourful history. Our plan is to follow our eyes and ears, with a special focus on the easternmost Primera Sección. Montezuma Cypress or “Ahuehuete” trees were planted by the Aztecs, and they are worth scanning for songbirds, including many North America-breeding songbirds like Townsend’s Warblers and Summer Tanagers. The botanical garden is a great place to observe Broad-billed and Berylline Hummingbirds. With a bit of luck, we might see a Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer. In more open areas, spectacular Vermillion Flycatchers perch on shrubs and Black-headed Grosbeaks feed close to the canopy of taller trees. On the highest point of Chapultepec hill sits the Chapultepec Castle. This magnificent historic building has been a military academy, an emperor’s home, and the president’s residence. Today, it houses the National History Museum.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Overnight: Hotel Circulo Condesa, Mexico City.

Tuesday, February 20: UNAM Botanical Gardens, Xochimilco canals, Xochimilco Ecological Park

This second full day of exploration in Mexico City takes us southward to the UNAM Botanical Garden at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. The many distinct smaller gardens at this hotbed of conservation, environmental education, and biological science are interspersed with bizarre rock formations that date back to the devastating Xitle volcanic eruption from around the year 300 C.E. Coral Trees with their bright red flowers attract several oriole and hummingbird species. The cactus garden, which features many local endemics, is also great for hummingbirds. Taller fruiting trees are magnets for the gorgeous Gray Silky-flycatchers and several thrushes. In beds of natural lava vegetation, look for endemic Hooded Yellowthroats.

Next, it’s off to Xochimilco, an intricate network of floating gardens or “chinampas” that make up the famed Xochimilco canals. These canals are an enduring relic of the ingenious agricultural practices of the Xochimilca people, whose chinampas fed themselves and then, following the Aztec takeover in 1430, the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. Enjoy a serene boat ride on a trajinera that includes a farm-to-table lunch of fresh foods from the chinampas themselves and prepared by local cooks. Recent restoration efforts at the Xochimilco Ecological Park have expanded natural areas and boosted biodiversity. As we slowly glide past Bonpland Willows or “ahujote” trees, waterbirds like American White Pelicans, Mexican Ducks, and Cinnamon Teal feed and roost on the water’s surface. There’s a good chance of seeing up to eight types of heron and egret — including such elegant species as Tricolored Heron and Green Heron — plus Black-necked Stilts and American Avocets wading in the shallows and Belted Kingfishers hunting for fish. The much sought-after Buff-breasted Flycatcher and Green Jay are also fairly reliable here.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Overnight: Hotel Circulo Condesa, Mexico City.

Wednesday, February 21: Travel to Valle de Bravo / Butterflies and birds at Piedra Herrada

This morning after breakfast we make our way about two hours westward to the historic town of Valle de Bravo, which has had various vocations since the 16th century. Now it is mainly a resort town owing to its relative proximity to Mexico City and its scenic location among hills and by a lake. A short drive from Valle de Bravo is the Piedra Herrada reserve. At more than 11,409 hectares in size, the beautiful landscape of Piedra Herrada is cloaked with Oyamel (fir) and pine trees, a perfect roosting place for millions of Monarch butterflies! There is also a mix of more intriguing highland bird species, including Mountain Trogon, Transvolcanic Jay, and Yellow-eyed Junco. One of the undisputed avian highlights of Piedra Herrada is the stunning Red Warbler, an endemic to highland Mexico. It is joined here by a nice mix of resident and North American-breeding warblers. After our day in the field, we check into our hotel nestled among mountain pines and endowed with wonderful grounds to enjoy a dinner at a local Spanish tapas bar.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Overnight: Misión Grand, Valle de Bravo.

Thursday, February 22: Birding on hotel grounds / Valle de Bravo-area hotspots like Velo de Novia Waterfall

On a morning wander about the verdant hotel grounds, we have more chances to observe highland bird species. One of the most charismatic is the clown-faced Acorn Woodpecker. These highly social birds each store thousands of acorns in specially made holes that they fiercely (and noisily) guard. Enjoy their comical antics, while keeping your eyes peeled for Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays, Blue Mockingbirds, and Rufous-capped Warblers, among many others.

The rest of the day is devoted to other hotspots in the Valle de Bravo area, especially the Velo de Novia Waterfall. Shaped somewhat like a wedding veil (hence its name), this 35-metre-tall cascade is fed by the San Juan brook and sends water downstream to Lake Avándaro. The surrounding park has easy walking trails which we plan to wander in search of Tufted Flycatchers, Ruddy-capped and Russet Nightingale-Thrushes, and several warblers. White-eared Hummingbirds and Blue-throated Mountain-gems are also possible.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Overnight: Misión Grand, Valle de Bravo.

Friday, February 23: Birding at Monte Alto Reserve / Drive to Mexico City for free afternoon

Before departing the Valle de Bravo area, we make a stop at the Monte Alto Reserve. Breathe in the aroma of pine and Oyamel trees and marvel at the sweeping vistas above which vultures, hawks, swifts, and swallows drift. Spotted and Gray-barred Wrens are possible in scrubby vegetation, along with Brown-backed Solitaires, and Rufous-capped Brushfinches. Hermit and Grace’s Warblers are part of another diverse mix of these tiny avian jewels. This is another prime site for Red Warblers.

After arriving back in Mexico City, enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure and rest up for tomorrow’s visit to an entirely new habitat.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Overnight: Hotel Habita Polanco, Mexico City.

Saturday, February 24: Birding at Sierra de Guadalupe State Park / Farewell Dinner

In the northern reaches of Mexico City is the Sierra de Guadalupe State Park. Oaks and cacti are dominant in this dry montane region. Here, Greater Roadrunners search for reptiles under yuccas, and Cactus Wrens are common. Dusky and Gray Flycatchers, both breeders in western North America, are fairly dependable, along with Black-chinned Sparrows and Green-tailed Towhees. Blooming flowers attract Black-vented and Scott’s Orioles. This is our best chance to see wintering Blue Grosbeaks and Virginia’s Warblers.

This evening is our Farewell Dinner to celebrate the wonderful experiences and bird sightings we’ve had over the past week.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Overnight: Hotel Habita Polanco, Mexico City.

Sunday, February 25: Depart Mexico City

After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our flights home. Please contact us for suggestions on how to extend your stay in Mexico.

Meals: Breakfast

Note: The itinerary and accommodation described in this detailed itinerary are subject to change due to logistical arrangements and to take advantage of local events.

Tour Details

  • Duration: February 18 – 25 2024 | 8 Days
  • Tour Cost: US$5695 plus flight. Including all taxes and gratuities.
  • Single supplement: US$1070
  • Group size: 10 – 12 participants

If you are travelling alone and would like to share, we will attempt to match you up with an appropriate roommate. If we cannot, the single supplement will apply. This will be collected at 90 days prior to departure.

  • Hotel Polanco Mexico City

  • Hotel Circulo Condesa Mexico City

Included Features

  • Airport transfers on tour start and end dates
  • Accommodations based on double occupancy in hotels listed or similar
  • Ground transportation
  • All activities as described in the detailed itinerary
  • Park and museum entrance fees
  • Meals as specified in the itinerary
  • Porterage of one standard piece of baggage per person
  • Gratuities for guides, driver, and included meals
  • All taxes
  • Services of your Tour Leader David Lindo
  • Services of local Mexican guide and driver

Not Included

  • Return airfare from your home to join the tour
  • Fuel surcharge (if applicable)
  • Airport departure taxes
  • Visa fee for Mexico, if required
  • Travel insurance
  • Airport transfers, outside of tour start and end dates
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Additional transportation required due to any emergency or other situation
  • Any item not mentioned in “Included Features”

Payment Details

A non-refundable deposit of US$750 per person is required to reserve a space on this tour. A second deposit of US$2000 will be required 6 months prior to departure. Final payment is due 90 days prior to departure.

How to Book

Please contact the Worldwide Quest office for more information and to secure your booking.

TOLL-FREE 1-800-387-1483 / LOCAL 416-633-5666 | TRAVEL@WORLDWIDEQUEST.COM

www.worldwidequest.com | 491 King Street East, Toronto, ON M5A 1L9

What to Expect

Joining Instructions

This tour begins on Sunday, February 18th at the Mexico City International Airport to our first hotel. Travellers arriving on the tour start date will be met on arrival and transferred to our meeting point. This transfer is included in the cost of the tour. When you book the designated pre-trip accommodation with Worldwide Quest, your transfer from the airport to our group hotel on arrival is also included. If you are making your own pre-trip arrangements, this transfer can be provided at additional cost.

The tour concludes on Sunday, February 25th with a single included transfer to the Mexico City International Airport. Please contact us to verify timing of this transfer prior to making any flight arrangements.

Level of Activity: Easy to Moderate

We will use well-marked walking paths. Terrain is sometimes gently sloping and may be uneven at sites around Valle de Bravo, so we recommend comfortable, sturdy walking shoes and a trekking pole for extra balance. Mexico City and Valle de Bravo are both highland communities. Please contact us if you have any questions about travelling at higher altitudes.


Hotel Circulo Condesa is modern hotel in Mexico City’s Colonia Condesa area, a short walk from the artsy district’s many stores and restaurants. It also includes an on-site restaurant/bar, free WIFI, and shop.

Misión Grand is a favourite of past travellers who have enjoyed the lush grounds and impressive views of pine-clad mountains. The hotel is well-provisioned with all standard amenities, including WIFI, on-site restaurant, and swimming pool.

Hotel Habita Polanco is a fully remodelled 1950s building with bright rooms, WIFI, a swimming pool, and restaurant. It is located in Mexico City’s trendy Polanco district.


We will be travelling in a comfortable air-conditioned 16-passenger Mercedes Benz Sprinter driven by a professional driver.


Daytime highs in Mexico City and Valle de Bravo at this time of year usually hold steady around 22 to 24 °C, while nighttime lows hover between 4 and 8 °C. Skies are mainly sunny, and a small amount of rain is possible. Wind and humidity are typically both very low.

Travel Documents

You will require a passport for your trip to Mexico. Please make sure it is valid for six months after the date of your return home. UK, Canada, and USA passport holders do not require a visa to visit Mexico.


Worldwide Quest has been awarded the World Travel and Tourism Council’s #SafeTravels Stamp for adopting health and hygiene global standardized protocols. Learn more.

COVID-19 Entry and Travel Requirements

All travellers should be prepared to show proof of vaccination as per local regulations. Please refer to these websites for current requirements: Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid

Additional Information

Extend Your Stay

We are offering a one-night extension in Mexico City that includes a day trip to Teotihuacán to observe birds among the ruins of this ancient city whose origins remain unknown. Please contact us for further information.

If you are interested in exploring more of this region, we would be happy to design a personalized extension for you either before or after this tour. Please let us suggest some options, based on your time available, budget and interests.

Terms and Conditions

For additional information about our terms and conditions, please refer to your booking form, the current brochure or our website. All participants booking with Worldwide Quest are covered by the terms of the Ontario Travel Industry Act (Worldwide Quest International, Ontario – License # 2667946). See full details here.

Cancellation Policy

All payments are non-refundable, however you may transfer your initial deposit for any land tour to another tour 90 days or more prior to your scheduled departure date. Initial deposits for cruises are non-refundable and non-transferable. Your second payment and your final payment are non-refundable and non-transferable. If you cancel within 90 days prior to trip departure, all associated trip costs are non-refundable. In the event of a cancellation, you must notify Worldwide Quest immediately and in writing. See full details here.

Travel Insurance

We urge you to ensure that you have adequate cancellation and medical insurance in place, should an unexpected event cause you to cancel or interrupt your trip or should the tour not be operable per our terms and conditions. We will offer you Manulife insurance coverage. Medical insurance including emergency medical evacuation coverage is mandatory on all our tours.