These days, butterfly watching tours are conducted almost everywhere where these striking creatures are to be found, both to prevent their fast declining numbers, and to contribute to conservation of these fascinating species.
Butterfly holidays encourage interest in these colourfully patterned elegant creatures, which are regarded as the true ambassadors of a healthy environment. In addition to butterflies, trips organised by companies such as Naturetrek can uncover several different types of birds, plants and mammals.
With about 20,000 different species butterfly to be found all over the globe, we have narrowed the search down to some of the best hotspots where you can see some of the rarest and diverse fluttering wonders at their elegant best.
Feet Do Travel share the best places for butterfly watching around the world.
The Cevennes National Park is one of the best places in France to see butterflies. Situated about 200 miles from Provence and at the south-eastern edge of Massif Central, this large and unspoilt landscape is set amid the backdrop of towering granite peaks, criss-crossed by deep gorges and forests, making it the ideal spot for a lepidopterist to begin their quest for butterfly species.
In an area stretching from the Mediterranean to heights over 1700m, during the months of May and June a large number of flowers, rockroses, orchids and lilies bloom attracting butterflies in large numbers. The Cevennes, with the stunning backdrop scenery in the whole of France, it is not surprising that many butterfly naturalists have lost a part of their heart in this incredible region.
A trip to Normandy opens up ample opportunities for watching species of butterflies which are either rare in the United Kingdom, or who have adopted extended periods of flight in Europe. A short trip to this region will showcase the different habitats where some good species of butterflies flourish, but you can also enjoy watching the variety of wild animals which have found shelter here.
A leisurely trek will take you to one of the most important wetlands of Europe, namely the Cotentin Regional Nature Park. Apart from the focus being on butterflies, visitors can see a number of wild flowers and birds, and also savour the excellent seafood and other local produce for which Normandy is famous.
A majority of the 120 species of butterflies in Sweden are to be found in the central region of the country, especially during the high Nordic summer season. During this time, when the nights are exceedingly short, one can view as many as 85 kinds of some of the most unique Scandinavian beauties along with a combination of dragonflies and damselflies. Interestingly, a big variety of these butterflies have a very restricted distribution and can be found only in this part of Europe.
Excursions involve spending most of the time in open fields in rural surroundings where one can possibly see 11 species of Blue and as many as 12 Fritillaries over a six day trip. Though mammals may not be the main target on this trip, Moose, Roe Deer, Red Fox, Red Squirrel and Mountain Hare can be spotted at any time during the trip. Rarely seen animals can include Pine Marten, Lynx, Wolf and Wild Boar.
Lepidopterists who have travelled all over Europe know where these winged beauties can be found, however there are scores of other mountain regions which are fast gaining recognition as butterfly and moth havens.
The magnificent Dolomites of Eastern Italy is one such place which offers nearly 700 species in different habitats. The area is a part of the Southern Limestone Alps, spread over the three provinces of Verona, Vicenza and Trentino with the highest peak being Marmolada at 3343m.
If the weather holds, a visitor can expect to add 70-80 unfamiliar butterflies to their list in about a week, against the backdrop of some amazing mountain scenery. These can include blues, coppers, ringlets, skippers and fritillaries. One can also identify a large selection of rare moths which are difficult to see elsewhere.
Out of the 242 species of butterflies found in Sri Lanka, as many as 42 are endemic to the island. They can be found everywhere from the forests to the arid zones, with the highest number in the foothills up to an elevation of 3000 feet. Butterfly tours in Sri Lanka focus not only on these winged creatures and moths but on other attractions of Natural History.
Even though geographically the island nation is situated close to India, wildlife of Sri Lanka has many similarities to Indonesia with a number of endemic species such as the Blue Mormon and the Tree Nymph. Mammal sightings may include the purple faced tree monkey while endemic birds seen are the Sri Lankan Hanging Parrot.
The Kathmandu valley in Nepal is home to nearly 650 species of unique butterflies, making it a must visit destination for butterfly enthusiasts. Due to the mild temperatures which are around 18°C in mid-winter and the forested areas at different elevations, a large variety of butterflies can be observed in a relatively short period, especially between March and September. Some of the fabulous specimens which have been attracting experts for over 150 years feature Purple Sapphire Circles, Oakblues and Great Orange Tips.
Butterflies can be found from 2700m to 5500m in the Himalayan region, with the mid-mountain range attracting both the Oriental and Palearctic species, some of them extremely notable and rare. All these varieties are categorised under 11 families of the 15 that exist in the world. Species often seen are swallowtails, whites, blues, skippers and nymphalids, plus the Painted Lady, which is the most widely spread butterfly in the world.
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