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San Jorge de Tandayapa Hummingbird Sanctuary & Lodge
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All reviewsgeorge cruzthe magic birding circuitdining areahummingbird sanctuaryopen aircorner roomcloud forestexcellent birdingspecies of birdsthe ownerhiking trailshis wifeobservation decksecond stopguide miguelwonderful viewbird guide
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Reviewed 7 April 2014

I was with a group of 6 people, all interested in birds but with varying emphases - just hard birding, more relaxed birding, bird photography. We stayed at the San Jorge lodges at Quito, Tandayapa and Milpe. All were excellent, with their own charms. The Quito lodge is an old hacienda, and the Spanish style buildings and rooms a cozy and comfortable, and the architecture adds texture. Buildings and rooms at the other two are modern and spacious, and with excellent views over forest and valley, so birding could be done from your room. All lodges have hummingbird and fruit feeders, so there are plenty of opportunities to see the birds close-up; in this respect Tandayapa, with both kinds of feeders on each side of the long table used for meals, excelled. It was impossible to finish a meal in a timely manner due to the constant checks through binoculars or camera lens of booted racketail, violet-tailed sylph, various tanagers and other birds buzzing around. Same thing in the evening when a kinkajou or olinguito (both mammals) would turn up for a banana. A photographer could happily sit for a couple of days taking photos, and there are plenty of places for the birds to perch for natural rather than feeder photos. The overall set-up is a circuit, where you are met at the airport or hotel, then visit as many lodges as you want. Quito is at high altirtude, with close access to areas of similar and higher altitude; Tandayapa in the sweet spot for hummingbirds in the tropics at about 5000ft, and Milpe in the foothills at about 1500ft. This means a wide range of species can be seen. The big advantage the Magic Birding Circuit, the brand name of the lodge circuit, brings is that you don't have to be in a group to move around; you are transferred between lodges by the company, birding along the way. So a solo traveler or a couple can have the advantages usually only available in a group tour. It also means everything is very smooth, as everything is owned by the same operator. Back to the lodges themselves. Throughout service was excellent, and always very friendly. The food was surprising, not like normal lodge food but in presentation, menu and taste more like a quality city restaurant. Four courses were normal, and while focusing on Ecuadorean food, the best description might be Ecuador Modern. Although it was a set course, special diets can be catered for with advance notice, and even at the lodge we were able to make some changes from time to time, eg if some main ingredient was disliked by a guest. The kitchen staff were very accommodating, and it was obvious their aim was to make the guests happy, not just feed them. All in all the combination of birds, room and public are quality, food and logistical ease is very hard to beat, and the Magic Birding Circuit is highly recommended for all levels of birder (the guides are truly experts), for photographers, and even for those seeking a break in very comfortable surroundings while enjoy the natural side of Ecuador. But there's alwasy some negatives, right? Yes, and if the rating was out of 10, it would be 9.5, for two reasons. At the Quito lodge the dining room, at least when the lodge isn't full, is down a hill with a long path with several switchbacks. Going up at this oxygen-depleted altitude three times a day can be quite an effort, especially if you get there only to remember you have forgotten something. However, the lower dining room and outdoor patio, where lunch is taken in good weather, is nicer than the one in the main accommodation part of the lodge. The second negative is logistical at Tandayapa. Although there is a road (which was out of service due to a landslide during our visit) up from the main road to a parking area reasonably close to the accommodations, it is still a good haul for staff to carry bags. For this reason (and likely for packing in the minibuses) luggage is restricted to a duffel when going to Tandayapa. Although excess can be stored at Quito, this means for a trip longer than a medium duffel can hold, that duffel needs to be part of your luggage. In these weight-restricted air travel times, 6 or 8 pounds of duffel can take a bite out of your allowance. Then you need to come back to Quito lodge, which is a long way from the airport. Third, even if you could take a normal suitcase, the sight of the women on the staff hauling these up a steep track is troubling to some of us old-school types. One or two ATVs for hauling the luggage would simplify things, and avoid these issues.

Room Tip: At Tandayapa the corner room has great views in each direction, and a veranda with sofas (open to anyone, but most others don't even know it's there.) Older people will do best on the lower level at Quito, to avoid walking up the stairs. If you have any mobility issues then ask for the closer rooms it Milpe, as the path is level and shorter than the one to the lower rooms, though they have more privacy and great views.
  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled with friends
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9  Thank auspemburung
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 April 2014

The Tandayapa Lodge was the most incredible spot for hummingbirds I've ever seen. We were surrounded by more than a dozen species. The rooms were very comfortable and the food was wonderful, as it was at all the San Jorge Lodges. The birding just around the grounds was enough to keep us busy all day. It was also the best spot on the trip for mammals. This was the most relaxing part of the trip for me

Stayed: March 2014, travelled with friends
7  Thank Ben G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 March 2014

This was our second trip to Ecuador and our first time staying at San Jorge Eco-Lodges. We were excited about the opportunity to bird watch, take photos, hike and have time on our own to explore the reserves as well as immerse ourselves in the culture and bio-diversity of Ecuador. We had an incredible 12-night experience and can't say enough about the lodges, the San Jorge staff, the fantastic meals that were prepare for us everyday and the extremely knowledgeable guides. My husband and I saw over 250+ birds (we managed to photograph most of them) traveling from the Andes Mountains to the Low-Lands of Ecuador. Each climate step gave us a new experience. Our rooms at the lodges were clean and cozy, the food was lovingly prepared and the weather was delightful. We haven't stopped talking about Ecuador and San Jorge Eco-Lodges since we arrived home!

  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank CherylBird11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 March 2014

For a very different festive season experience contact Cheryl Korowotny @ Birdwatching@eco-lodgesanjorge.com.

With Cheryl’s help, a year in advance, we planned a 27 day adventure from Cape Town, South Africa to Ecuador from Dec 11 2013 to Jan 6 2014.

Our Itinerary started at our ‘base-camp’ for the month, San Jorge Quito. This homely hacienda on the outskirts of Quito was where we kept returning to prepare for next leg of our trip. San Jorge Quito is one of three (currently) Eco Lodges owned by the Cruz family. Each lodge is at a different altitude and hence has its own birding specials.

San Jorge Tandayapa and San Jorge Milpe were the 2 destinations on our first 6 day excursion within the Pincincha province. The second (3 days) was over the Pappallacta pass via Cayambe Coca park (Paramo) to the east Andean slopes in the Napo province. Here we visited towns like Baeza, Cosanga and Hollin. The third was a short flight over the Andes to the Napo town of Coca, a 2 hour motor boat ride down the Napo river to Sacha Lodge, for 4 nights.

Additionally we had short excursions from San Jorge Quito to Yanacocha and Jerusalem dry reserve as well as day visits to Otavalo and Quito old city with Jorge Cruz snr.

Our transport, meals and guides were co-ordinated via San Jorge Quito. Bisente’ and Maria (who ran San Jorge while we were there) were wonderful hosts, making us feel like we kept coming home whenever we returned to San Jorge Quito. Staff at San Jorge Tandayapa (run by Starling and Pillar) and San Jorge Milpe (run by Secunda and Hercilia) were all equally warm and welcoming.

All 3 venues have very comfortable accommodation, excellent food as well as their own special views, walks and BIRDS. Mealtimes were special occasions and are geared toward birds visiting at any time. Adding a 4th San Jorge run Cosanga Yanayachu Eco Lodge will certainly add to the excellent birding on the Eastern Andean slopes.

We had the privilege of being allocated 3 excellent and very patient bird guides (Miguel, Danny and Julio) whist at the San Jorge Eco Lodges. Two of the short excursions were led by Jorge snr and jnr.

The last leg of our adventure was down the Napo River to Sacha lodge. This section of the trip into Ecuadorian Amazonia was extremely special. This professionally run, remote lodge is an Ecuadorian asset that is preserving Ecuador’s plants, animals, birds and people.

This trip was an adventure of a lifetime for us. It is highly recommended to birders. We saw just over 400 new bird species in 20days of active birding.

Highlights – ALL the hummingbirds, tanagers, toucans and woodpeckers.
Specials – Crested Quetzal and Hoatzin
Unbelievables - Oropendulas (and their nests), Potoo and Umbrellabirds
CrazyNoisy – Parrots +++ at the licks in the Yasuni National park
Hard-work – Tinamou, Andean Guan and Mannikins
Amazing – Plate billed mountain toucan at a nest

Ecuadorians are very tolerant of birders. Go and see this ‘kaleidoscope of birds’ for yourself.

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled with friends
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7  Thank UrsulaA1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 February 2014

If you love hummingbirds, this is the place. Lots of feeders right in front of the outdoor eatery. You'll see toucanets, and lots of tanagers as well. And the food was the best I had during my entire trip to Ecuador. You'll stuff yourself on the food. Every meal was four or five courses of excellent quality-this was an unexpected surprise. Stalin was the perfect host for my stay here. If you want birding heaven along with a quiet, peaceful place to unwind, this is it.

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled solo
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7  Thank Randy S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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