Magic and Monarchs of Mexico

Join Mary-Anne on this new Art Safari to central Mexico – a multi-faceted area alive with colour.  It’s going to be an enthralling painting destination. We... Read more

From £4,440 pp (excl. flights)
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20 Jan - 03 Feb 2025

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Central Mexico

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Sketching, Painting & Travel in Mexico

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Mary-Anne Bartlett

Journey into the magic colour and warmth of Mexico - discovering old colonial towns, monarch butterflies, volcanic landscapes and ancient archaeological wonders

Join Mary-Anne on this new Art Safari to central Mexico – a multi-faceted area alive with colour.  It’s going to be an enthralling painting destination.

We spend 2 weeks exploring the rich cultural heritage of the colonial pueblos, colossal archaeological sites, and the natural beauty of the surrounding countryside and its varied avian inhabitants.

“One of my top wildlife dreams is to visit and paint the forests where the monarch butterflies overwinter – and we’re going there on days 6 and 7 of the tour!”

As we acclimatize with our guide, we explore architectural gems in the historic centre of Mexico City and we visit some of the finest museums in Latin America. We are guided to Mexico City’s most famous and iconic artists – Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. We spend time at the Diego Rivera Mural Museum, Anahuacalli Museum, as well as the world famous Casa Azul, once home to Kahlo and Rivera during their tumultuous relationship.

The majority of this Mexico journey is out in stunningly picturesque villages and in the wonders of the natural world – flora, fauna and vistas.  One day we take to the waters of Xochimilco on a traditional Trajinera boat, exploring the canals originally built by the Aztecs. We paint in the charming old pueblo of Taxco, famed for its silver. We sketch steep narrow streets and rose-coloured colonial architecture, and we paint the nearby Mil Cascadas, a glorious network of turquoise blue waterfalls and pools.

“Bring cadmium orange and black….”

Here comes the magic moment for any wildlife enthusiast. During the wintertime, a small area of central Mexico is colonized by monarch butterflies. They transform the verdant forests with their vibrant colours.  They roost in their millions.  We enjoy free time to paint, trying to capture the delicate anatomy and the flutter of these exquisite butterflies. As we will be staying in a nearby retreat, we have two opportunities to paint them over the two days in two different pine-clad sanctuaries.

Swapping one beautiful vista for another, we head for the scenic town of Pátzcuaro and its surrounding villages, a captivating area with tranquil lakes and cobblestone streets. It is also a creative hub where artisans of copper can be seen (and heard) tapping away with their hammers. We visit a workshop and learn about the techniques used to produce these beautiful regional pieces.

“Humming birds might whir around us as we sketch.”

Our tour continues with a mix of villages and mini cities, artisan markets  for Purépecha handicrafts, colonial baroque, always surrounded by lakes, forests, mountains and volcanos.  Mexico’s first inhabitants have left vast monuments recalling ancient civilizations where we sketch in awe of their architecture.

We visit Tzintzuntzan, or ‘place of the hummingbirds’.  Nearby is Yácatas, an impressive archaeological site that commands great views of the lake and mountains beyond and is where the Purépecha people formed their ceremonial centre and the capital of their empire.  Reaching for colour, we paint in the beautiful colonial city of Morelia – a UNESCO World Heritage site – and study its grand churches and cathedral, pink quarry stone architecture, as well as the aqueduct that once supplied water to the city. The other local liquid is a popular spirit, and we check out a local Mezcal distillery too.

The Siete Luminarias are a group of seven extinct volcanoes that have created an exciting landscape of craters and crystalline pools and lagoons for us to paint. The Luminarias are located in the Bajio dry forest region, part of the trans-volcanic belt of Mexico. The biodiversity of the volcanic landscape is impressive with endemic flora amongst the extinct craters.  

“We experience contrasts of cultures and astonishing cultural influences.”

Guanajuato offers the astonishing beauty of the Juarez theatre, the grand architecture of the University of Guanajuato, and the El Callejón del Beso, a legendary corner of the city where history and romance intertwine amongst the colourful dwellings.

Our final stop on this Mexican adventure is the important Archaeological site of Teotihuacán, a sacred place full of ancient mystery and splendour, and was once one of the largest cities in the world. We spend time amongst the ruins, capturing these magnificent step pyramids and temples in our sketchbooks.

Some highlights:

  • Explore the sights, galleries and museums of CDMX – Mexico’s grand capital
  • Float down the ecological waterways of Xochimilco and learn about the Aztec origins, the culture of today, and the impressive array of wildlife which makes its home here
  • Visit the colossal archaeological wonders of Yácatas of Tzintzuntzan, and Teotihuacán
  • Spend time in the Piedra Herrada and Chincua Hill Sanctuaries in search of the beautiful Monarch butterfly.
  • Tour a variety of colourful old colonial pueblos, each with their own individual character and affectionally known as ‘Magical towns’
  • Learn about the popular spirit Mezcal – a a distilled alcoholic beverage made from agave – and how it’s produced at a local distillery
  • Discover the 7 Luminarias – a group of seven extinct volcanoes that have created an unusual mark on the landscape and have formed a habitat for many bird species
  • Explore the grandeur of Guanajuato’s Juarez Theatre, cathedral and the university, as well as its colourful network of dwellings that make up this vibrant city

Your tutor Mary-Anne Bartlett is an accomplished artist and seasoned traveller. She will teach you how to look at your surroundings and encourage you to fill your sketchbook pages in your own style, as well as trying some new ideas.


Day 1Arrival in Mexico City
Day 2Mexico City
Day 3Mexico City
Day 4Xochimilco
Day 5Taxco and Mil Waterfalls
Day 6Monarch Butterfly Piedra Herrada Sanctuary and Valle de Bravo
Day 7Monarch Butterfly Chincua Hill Sanctuary and Mineral of Angangueo
Day 8Pátzcuaro
Day 9Tupataro, Santa Clara del Cobre, and Zirahuen Island
Day 10Janitzio, Tzintzuntzan and Morelia
Day 11Morelia
Day 12The 7 Luminarias
Day 13Guanajuato
Day 14Archaeological site of Teotihuacán
Day 15Departure day
Ask for full itinerary
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Per person sharing from £4,440.

Single supplement if required £1,025.


The joining point for this tour is Mexico City.

Ask us and we can organise your flight for you, ATOL 9916 (ATOL protected for all those departing from the UK).



All accommodation, all meals, art tuition & hosting, excursions & internal transport and internal flight as stated on the itinerary, group airport transfers



International flights, all drinks & gratuities, optional activities, art materials, personal expenses, visa (if required)

Enquire now on 01394 382235 or [email protected]

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