What is Mariposario del Drago officially?
A glassed-in tropical garden home to over 800 free-flying butterflies of 150+ different species, Mariposario del Drago is a little piece of tropical paradise in Tenerife. Inside the park, environmental conditions are kept as close as possible to that which the butterflies would experience in their natural habitats. Humidity is around 80%, while the temperature is kept between 24ºC and 29ºC.
Since the average lifespan of a butterfly is a mere 2-3 weeks, the park runs a breeding programme to keep its numbers topped up. This means not only can you see adult butterflies fluttering all over, but you can also see eggs, chrysalis and caterpillars - the full life cycle of the butterfly.
One of the highlights of the Mariposario del Drago is the nursery where new butterflies are born every day. You can see many chrysalis delicately secured in place here. If you're really lucky, you might even be able to watch as a butterfly hatches and spreads its wings for the very first time.
To keep the butterflies happy, Mariposario del Drago is teeming with botanical diversity. The plants are divided into three main categories (ornamental plants, flowering plants rich in nectar and host plants), many of which have been brought in directly from their countries of origin.
What is Mariposario del Drago really?
Normally we use this section to call out the exaggerated claims made by whichever Tenerife attraction we're reviewing. But not this time.
Mariposario del Drago genuinely lives up to everything it claims to be. If anything, they actually undersell it, which is probably why it's one of the lesser-known things to do in Tenerife.
From the perspective of animal lovers, everything appears to be set up with the wellbeing of the butterflies in mind and we're sure the one that landed on Ian was smiling.
Ian's Mariposario del Drago review
First impressions are great. You overlook the whole garden from the high vantage point at the entrance. It's an impressive display of colour and life. You can plod along the paths at your own place and there are butterflies everywhere.
With so many different species, I thought there surely must be some territorial disputes. They noticeably group together on certain plants like they're in a gang. I was wondering if I was going to witness a big butterfly turf war!
But, no. It turns out that butterflies hanging out on specific plants is perfectly normal - I read the boring stuff. They aren't aggressive at all (boring) which is probably a good thing because they're so clumsy.
They fly into you, into each other...you'd think with only 3 days to live they might move with a bit of purpose. No. But that's great, because they're fun to watch and you're almost guaranteed to be landed on.
The downstairs part is very dull, with the toilets being the biggest attraction there. And you could argue the main area upstairs is not very big in comparison to some butterfly houses. Just arguments I suppose, but it's not an expensive admission and for an amusing hour it's well worth a visit.
Overall rating: ⅘ ('cos I got to hold one)
Nicky's Mariposario del Drago review
If you're into nature photography, you'll absolutely love Mariposario del Drago. It's loaded with all kinds of exotic flowers, plants and butterflies that you definitely can't see elsewhere in Tenerife. When we visited, there were almost as many people with insanely long lenses trying to capture the perfect shot as there were butterflies!
I'm not a big fan of attractions where animals are the main focus, but I felt really good about this place. Yes, the caterpillars, butterflies and whatever other insects are loitering about under leaves are being held in captivity. But they've got loads of room, oodles of fresh food, an amazing habitat and plenty of other butterflies to mingle with. Plus they're not forced to perform for their dinner.
As well as the caterpillars and butterflies, the Mariposario del Drago is also home to home to several species of birds and parrots that swoop through the trees, koi carp that do their best to stay out of their sight and turtles hoping some of the butterflies' fruit will fall off the plates.
The area is beautifully laid out. There are several winding paths you can follow which take you around the whole house, the paths are lined with exotic flora and there's a large pond with a bridge.
If you've never been to a butterfly house before, I absolutely recommend you go! But if you have been to one before, you might want to give it a second thought. The Mariposario del Drago is definitely on the smaller side and chances are the one you've already been to will have been better.
Overall rating: ⅘
Insider tips for Mariposario del Drago
Seek out the staff members
Interact with the slightly-nerdy-looking staff, as they're usually up to something interesting. If you're nice, they'll show you how to pick the butterflies up, give you fruit so the butterflies feed from your hand and they'll explain what's going on in the lab.
Don't interact with the guy with the broom. He's rubbish.
Wear bright tropical colours
If you want the butterflies to land on you, wear a brightly coloured top. They're particularly drawn to red, yellow, pink, orange and purple, so get digging in your wardrobe.
Other attractions near the Mariposario del Drago
Tenerife's famous Dragon Tree/El Drago Milenario (said to be one of the biggest and oldest dragon trees in the world) is literally across the road from Mariposario del Drago, so it's worth a look while you're there.
There are also several tiny gift shops within walking distance which sell local Canarian products like mojo, gofio and wine. Most of these shops advertise tastings for just a few euros. They're great places to stop for a light lunch.
Other attractions near the Mariposario del Drago that you can drive or ride the bus to include the Guanche Museum, Cueva del Viento and ARTlandya.
Important info about Mariposario del Drago
Official name: Mariposario del Drago
Official website: www.mariposario.com
Address: Av. de Canarias, s/n, 38430 Icod de los Vinos, Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Contact details: +34 922 81 51 67 and an online contact form
Opening hours: Open 365 days a year, 10am - 6pm
Suggested time: 1 hour
Non-resident adults: €8.50
Resident adults and OAPs: €7.50 (make sure you take proof of residency/age)
Children aged 2-12: €5
Have you been here? What did you make of it?