Click here for a list of species seen on this trip
view from Huitepec

Traveling through the extensive highlands of Chiapas, one experiences an environment radically different from the steaming lowlands. Here, at over six thousand feet, pine forests and pleasant temperatures are encountered.  Daytime highs are generally in the 70s or 80s.  Highland Chiapas and adjacent Guatemala are the heart of the Mayan empire and many of the butterflies found here are endemic to this region.  The scenery is beautiful and the cities, especially San Cristobal de las Casas, are fascinating. 

Day 1. Thursday The tour begins this evening at the Tuxtla Gutierrez airport. Night at a comfortable hotel in Tuxtla Gutierrez.

Day 2. Friday. Today we will visit fabled Sumidero Canyon, one of the most spectacular canyons in the world.  We will travel alongside the canyon, to the miradores, or lookouts, where the views are unending.  Butterflies we have seen here include large and resplendent Regal Greatstreaks (Evenus regalis), simple, but elegant, Simple Patches (Chlosyne hippodrome), Big-spotted (Anaea perenna) and Black-veined Leafwings (Consul excellens), Turquoise Emperors (Doxocopa laurentia) and Blue-collared Firetips (Mysoria amra).  We will search for Archaic Swallowtails (Baronia brevicauda), highly unusual primitive swallowtails that don’t look like swallowtails. Night at a comfortable hotel in San Cristobal de las Casas.

Day 3. Saturday. This morning we will visit cloud forest in the vicinity of San Cristobal.  This is one of the few areas known where Guatemalan Coppers (Iophanus pyrrhias) can be found, and we have been fortunate enough to see them here.  In addition, we will look for Black-pointed Tile-Whites (Hesperocharis graphites), Chiapas Hairstreaks (Callophrys scaphia) and Tailed Sisters (Adelpha creton).  Among the interesting birds here, we have seen Blue-throated Motmots and Blue-and-white Mockingbirds. In the afternoon we will drive south to the city of Comitan.  The hotel we will be staying at provides an exceptional experience – antique furniture, rugs and paintings in a tranquil mountain setting.  Eastern Bluebirds, which nest on the grounds, mingle with Black Crescents.  Night south of Comitan. 

Days 4. Sunday. This morning we will drive the short distance to Lagunas de Montebello, a national park on the Guatemalan border.  Known from the area are Yellow Kite-Swallowtail (Eurytides calliste), Bar-celled Oleria (Oleria zea), Pithy Sister (Adelpha pithys), Montane Sister (Adelpha donysa), Starred Oxeo (Oxeoschistus tauropolis), Orange-bordered Satyr (Pseudomaniola gigas), Wide-bordered Satyr (Satyrotaygetis satyrina), Geyer’s Dircenna (Dircenna jemina), Dark-fringed Banded-Skipper (Autochton vectilucis), Cloud-forest Fantastic Skipper (Vettius conka), Violet-washed Skipper (Damas clavus), and Chiapas Sedge-Skippers (Euphyes chamuli) among many, many others.  This area has one of the longest lists of butterfly species of any spot in Mexico.  We will hope for stunners such as Pale-tipped Cycadian (Theorema eumenia), Bates’ Greatstreak (Evenus batesi), Jet Blackstreak (Ocaria thales), Green-spotted Brangas (Brangas carthaea), Gaudy Eyemark (Mesosemia gaudiolum), Bar-coded Jewelmark (Sarota gamelia), Blue-and-orange Banner (Epiphile iblis), and Chiapas Firetip (Pyrrhopyge tzotzili). This may be your last chance to see this area, because it is being rapidly cut.  The remnant cloud-forest patches that remain harbor many special butterflies and birds -- Quetzals and Black-throated Jays hang on -- but I doubt that anything will be left within five to ten years.  Night south of Comitan.

Days 5-6. Monday, Tuesday. Monday morning we will drive to the Monte Azules reserve in Chajul, in the Chiapas lowlands.  This area of extensive tropical rain forest is the northern limit for a huge number of truly tropical butterfly species.  With many hundreds of species occurring here, it is hard to know which to pick out for special mention!  Standouts that have been found here include Stripe-tipped Fiestamark (Symmachia rubina), bright orange with bold black-and-white wingtips; Imperial Sunstreak (Arcas imperialis), a shimmering iridescent green underside conceals the brilliant iridescent blue topside of the namesake of Sunstreak Tours; Common Olivewing (Nessaea aglaura), cool olive on the outside, it is striped with brilliant turquoise on the inside; Brilliant Greenmark (Caria mantinea ), with brilliant iridescent green patches; Graphic Beauty (Baeotus baeotus), an artist’s delight with an amazing black-and-white pattern punctuated by orange spots; and Great Agrias (Agrias aedon), Monarch-sized with brilliant iridescent purple and large red patches above. With any luck, we shoul have great views of some of the few remaining Scarlet Macaws in Mexico. We will spend nights at an adequate lodge at Chajul.

Day 7. Wednesday.  This morning we will again butterfly the Montes Azules reserve at Chajul.  A mid-afternoon drive will bring us back to the our hotel near Comitan. Night south of Comitan.

Day. 8. Thursday. This morning we may butterfly the pleasant juniper and acacia-clad hills near our hotel. Here we have found Clear-winged Mimic-Queen (Lycorea ilione) and Tiger Mimic-Queens and Black-veined Leafwings (Consul excellens) have been common.   This afternoon we will drive to San Cristobal, exploring the high pine forest in the area. Specialties that are possible include Guatemalan Hairstreaks (Callophrys guatemalena), Pine Crescents (Phyciodes sitalces), Guatemalan Pedalios (Pedaliodes napaea) and Cloud-forest Poans (Poanes niveolimbus). Night in San Cristobal de las Casas.

Day 9. Friday.  Today we will revisit Sumidero Canyon. If past experience is a guide, the week difference in time will result in a different mix of species, including many new possibilites. In the late afternoon we will  drive to Tuxtla Gutierrez.

Day 10. Saturday.  The main trip ends this morning at the Tuxtla Gutierrez airport.

Day 11. Sunday - Day 16. Friday. We will travel along the Pacific Coast to Tapachula
and other areas. Exact itinerary is to be determined.
Leader will be Jeffrey Glassberg, president of the North American Butterfly Association and author of Butterflies through Binoculars and ofA Swift Guide to the Butterflies of Mexico & Central America

Cost of the main trip is TBD/person from Tuxtla Gutierrez. Cost of the Pacific Coast extension is to be determined. Cost includes double-based accommodations, meals (except, because of staggered arrival times, dinner the first night), ground transportation, airport transfers, tour leader fees and entrance fees.  Not included are alcoholic beverages, laundry services, and other items of a personal nature.  Single supplement is TBD. This trip is limited to 8 participants.

Click Reservations for a Reservation Form.


A Bar-celled Oleria, Oleria zea,
at Lagunas de Montebello
Regal Greatstreak
pine crescent
A Pine Crescent, Phyciodes
(Anthanassa) sitalces,
above San Cristobal de las Casas
Regal Greatstreak, Evenus regalis
With any luck,
we're likely to see a few butterflies!
turquoise emperor

Turquoise Emperor, Doxocopa laurentia,
at Sumidero Canyon

Bar-celled Oleria
Caria mantinea
A Brilliant Greenmark, Caria mantinea,
at Chajul

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Highlands of Chiapas, Mexico

Late August



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