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“Magic Birding Tour, June 2012”

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San Jorge Eco-Lodge & Botanical Reserve
Ranked #26 of 113 Hotels in Quito
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 27 October 2012

My experience with the San Jorge Eco Lodges was during the end of May through the first 2 weeks of June 2012. The birding was fantastic, as advertised! In a nutshell, this “Circuit” was excellent, well guided, and there was ample opportunity to see hundreds of species of birds. I recommend that you carry the book with the bird plates in order to keep the name and the details of the birds in perspective, as there are so many that are similar. See the “Magic Birding Circuit” websites for full explanation of the locations, altitudes, temperatures, various bird species etc. The food at all the lodges was excellent! At first, I was afraid that I was eating too much, but I guess not since I lost weight on the trip. The San Jorge Quito Lodge is historical and quaint, but the rooms need updating. There are nice views, and there is WiFi.

The Tandayapa and Milpe Lodges were modern and had all that you would need (hot water, adequate outlets for your gear and great views) but no WiFi. There is cellular reception. At all of the San Jorge lodges, the dining was in covered open outside patios that were surrounded by gardens and natural rainforest terrain. In addition there were feeding stations for ground birds, tree birds, and hummingbird feeders everywhere. The families that ran the various lodges were all very gracious and helpful. The non San Jorge lodges on the Amazon side were modern, and we ate at local restaurants that were approved by the Cruz family.

The Angel Paz side trip is a must, but be sure to let Jorge Cruz Sr know that you expect him to get you there early (by 0530ish) to see the Cock of the Rock display. We got there late and I missed most of the Cock of the Rock display, but I was able to see many other species at the various viewing sites that Sr Paz has organized around his property. One of the highlights is his ability to call the antpittas to us. Fantastic! Angel Paz and his reserve are amazing!!! Refer to the posted literature for more details. Well worth the early start. Don’t miss it!

The Guides were: Jorge Cruz Sr (Quito, Tandayapa, Antizana), Jorge Cruz Jr (Milpe, and the Amazon slopes) and his mother, Irina, was the driver and a great asset to the experience. She was a good Quetzal spotter and safe driver. Julio Ayala was also a great guide (an independent). He knew the Milpe and surrounding area birds expertly and was also bilingual. I would recommend them all again!

Pros: Excellent birding. Great experience to have the same owners develop this “circuit” of birding lodges all organized for excellent birding in different habitats and including transportation and guides… Friendly, fun and fast paced days from dawn to dusk. The Cruz family goes the extra to make the experience memorable.

Cons/suggestions: a little expensive, but for the inclusive perks above, would do it again. The rooms do not have adequate space off the floor for organizing your gear. Would recommend wide shelves/tables and extra outlets in the room for gear. ( I brought a multi outlet extension cord and used it everywhere). I think that “towel” dryers for wet clothing would be nice to have in each room in the newer lodges since they are located in very humid rainy climates. I traveled light but still would have loved to have these items.

I didn’t feel comfortable with the “tips” expectation for hotel staff. I spent approx 250$ in tips alone for the almost 3 weeks of the tour. Another couple, who shared the same concern, told me they spent about 800$ in 2 weeks. I’m not sure if the staff are dependent on tips for the majority of their income.

Lastly, as an American tourist who spent over $4,000.00 (of my hard earned savings) to enjoy this lifetime experience, I felt disappointed that I had to listen to anti-American conversations instigated by the owner Sr Cruz. It was unexpected, especially since he is an obvious capitalist, and is technically an American citizen. He is enjoying the benefits of capitalism, which is providing a wealthy lifestyle for himself and for his family. Good for him, he works hard for it, but he should recognize it as capitalism. All that said, he was otherwise a fun, spirited, and a great knowledgeable guide. I still highly recommend his Magic Birding Circuit.

Room Tip: Room 5 at Tandayapa is fantastic
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  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled solo
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8  Thank Susan C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 15 October 2012

I personally did not like my experience with San Jorge. They came across as really money hungry to me and the prices they charge for food and dinner are more expensive than in many US places. Food is really cheap in Ecuador so I wonder if this is really neccessary? Also, they like to organise packages for you which end up being really expensive.

If you had to stay here, I would totally avoid buying packages and book get the accomodaton before arrival.

Stayed: October 2012, travelled as a couple
5  Thank TheCrow22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Travel2Ecuador, Public Relations Manager at San Jorge Eco-Lodge & Botanical Reserve, responded to this reviewResponded 17 October 2012

San Jorge Eco-Lodge recognizes that the guest was not happy with the prices at San Jorge/Quito lodge. We are not a hostel but an eco-resort and botanical reserve located within minutes of Quito, a large international city. San Jorge maintains 300 acres of forest, huge gardens, pristine trails, beautiful rooms and first class services. We compare our prices with the better restaurants and hotels in Quito. Our guide services are professional. We have done extensive research to ensure the grounds and lodge is sustainable and environmentally friendly. Thus, our lodge does not cater to the backpacker set but is for those who want to want to experience the Magic Birding and Hiking Circuit of Ecuador while enjoying delicious foods, specialized bilingual guides and our beautiful lodge.

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Reviewed 13 October 2012

Granted it has been a few years since my husband and I spent several nights at the lodge. I was recently asked about it on the message board and realized I was remiss in not writing a review. In checking recent reviews it seems it's still as enchanting as we remember. We spent a week in bustling Quito then 4 or 5 nights relaxing at the lodge. Booked a half day birding tour. Was great, do more if you are real birders (this is as long as I could get my husband out... but he loved it). The food was included. Food is a big part of our trips and this was wonderful, simple, fresh. There are lost of stairs and steep walk ways but if you are ok with that, Book it.

  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank RickandDanaTrippin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 September 2012

My wife and I spent 7 nights on the "Magic Birding Circuit" organized thru San Jorge - Quito. Altogether we spent 3 nights at San Jorge - Quito, 3 nights at San Jorge - Tandayapa and 1 night at San Jorge - Milipe. It's the dry season and slow season for birding, so we were about the only ones on the circuit and were hosted from start to finish by Dr. Jorge Cruz, owner and terrific host (and great birding enthusiast).

All 3 facilities were very comfortable - frankly much nicer than where I usually stay when birding Latin America on my own. Food was very good - fruit, fruit juices, fish, vegetables, soups - no rice and beans and not a single piece of bread in 7 days. Between us we lost 7 pounds on the trip due to the extent of hiking and activity and the nutritious meals. We went higher end on this trip so the trip would be more enjoyable for my wife who is a less avid birder but a great outdoors hiking and viewing companion.

You want to be reasonably physically fit - this isn't Ohio. I'm 68 and my wife is 59 and we had no trouble negotiating the trails with Jorge, except for the huffing and puffing that hiking hills at 6000 to 11,000 feet produces.

Highlights - lots of very different birds (although fewer than in the wetter months); great viewing from the feeder deck at Tandayapa in particular - 43 species before breakfast one morning and 40 the next (and Jorge says the count rises to closer to 60 in the wet season); birding the "road" at Milipe - great birding and a change from deeper forest birding; Jorge as a guide and host - he'd just published a book on medicinal properties of plans in the region, so the discussion was always about more than just birds; facilities, food and staff - particularly in Tandayapa and Quito; and hammocks at Tandayapa and Milipe which were a welcome mid-day change of pace between morning and afternoon activities. It was a great introduction to Ecuador and not just Ecuador birding. Lots of discussion of culture, history and politics to go along with Jorge's really excellent knowledge of birds and plants. In the dry season we had no issue with bugs or mosquitoes - it was day 3 when I saw my first fly. Not sure if this changes in the wetter seasons. Cool nights at San Jorge Quito and Tandayapa and great beds and sleeping. Warmer at Milipe, but still good sleeping. Quick (about 20 minutes) access to the airport in Quito for the return trip the last morning.

Low lights - there really weren't any. There were no negative surprises on the trip. Do be aware that Ecuador is not flat. When you walk (of call it "hiking") you are going up or down most of the time and at the start of the trip it's at higher altitudes than you came from. We took our Diamox before arrival and aclimated in Quito (9000 - 9,500') for 2 days before moving to San Jorge - Quito (probably 10,000') and had no altitude sickness but did have the expected shortness of breath in the first couple of days when hiking uphill. But then we moved to Tandayapa at a mere 6,000 - 6,500 feet and even that passed. Don't be deterred by this - but do be aware there are some physical demands and prepare accordingly.

This proved to be a very good choice for our first trip to Ecuador. I would certainly repeat the trip - but maybe add a couple of days.

Room Tip: Bring lots of US $5 and $10 bills for tips and incidentals. We tipped caretakers and cooks daily fo...
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  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled as a couple
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7  Thank BoomerTours
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 September 2012

I have some 1,400 birds from seven continents on my life list. I wanted to add the birds of the mid-to upper Andes, especially hummingbirds. To this end, I found the SAN JORGE ECO-LODGES & BOTANICAL RESERVES in Ecuador. They have three lodges at different altitudes to give a whole range of eco-systems. The guides were remarkable both in bird knowledge and eyesight – they found everything. I got over 200 birds over six days with 150 new to me. I got my hummingbird fix with 29 species seen both at extensive feeders and in the wild. The lodges maintain miles of trails through the forests so the going is easy, but with a good bit of up and down (it’s the Andes!). The accommodations are very comfortable with private bathrooms. The included meals were a treat – all homemade with a taste of local flavors. Soups at noon and night were especially good. Transfers were on time and the service could be depended on. I went during the dry season (early Sept.) which gave mild temperatures and low humidly – very comfortable – so I cannot comment on other seasons.
I highly recommend the lodge for birders of all intensities.

  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled solo
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7  Thank Dougone
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 September 2012

We stayed at the main lodge just up the hill. Our daughter was ill and the staff were extremely accommodating. We moved to the Radisson the second night. Sadly this placed has been left to go down hill as a property. The two chaps that were running it were great and tried their best to keep everyone happy. For bird watchers (which we used to be) there are plenty of hummingbirds however the rooms are very dated, the heaters appear electrically unsafe.

Room Tip: One night here maximum or inquire about the eco lodges by this same proprietor in which he has obvio...
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  • Stayed: August 2012, travelled with family
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4  Thank bobwoodcco
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 September 2012

Approximately 30 minutes outside Quito city you feel like staying in a botanical garden, in the mountains (3000 - 3200m high) with fantastic fiew on the town. Whole the Hotel looks like an old spanish Hacienda and you´ll feel at home directly. Jorge the owner and all staff will help you to feel comfortable at this exciting place. When weather is fine you get served an accelent meal outside and while enjoying the fantastic original Ecuadorian food you can look at several diffrent humming birds. Do you want to see more humming birds, you have to go to Milpe - it´s fantastic - you´ll never forget it!

Stayed: January 2012, travelled with family
5  Thank iguana18
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about San Jorge Eco-Lodge & Botanical Reserve

Address: Km 4 Cotocollao-Nono Road, Quito 00000, Ecuador
Region: Ecuador > Pichincha Province > Quito
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#2 Romantic Hotel in Quito
#10 Family Hotel in Quito
Number of rooms: 30
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
San Jorge Eco-Lodge & Botanical Reserve/Quito (High Barren Plains/Highland Rainforest) 18th Century Spanish Hacienda located in the Pichincha Foothills offering airport transfers 24/7 or pick up from downtown Quito. Comfortable Andes hacienda rooms with private bath/hot shower, decorated in typical decor; game room, lounge, restaurant, bar and small museum. Free Wi-Fi offered in upper level rooms. We are the only private nature reserve near the city of Quito, situated on a 230 acre reserve, offering nature and complete relaxation, yet 25 minutes away. Explore our beautiful gardens, birdwatching & hiking trails, hummingbird feeders, delicious cuisine and views of 11 mountains & volcanos in the distance overlooking Quito. Pre-reserved guided tours are available for birdwatching, hiking & natural history, medicinal plants, cultural tours & add on extension cruises to The Galapagos Islands or Amazon Jungle. We also own San Jorge de Tandayapa Hummingbird Lodge & Sanctuary (Cloud Forest) & two Lodges at San Jorge de Milpe Orchid & Bird Reserve - San Jorge Cliff Lodge & NEW San Jorge Forest Lodge (Upper Tropical Rainforest) listed #1 in Trip Advisor. All private reserves & lodges are within 2 hours radius of Quito. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
San Jorge Eco-Lodge And Botanical Reserve
San Jorge Eco-Lodge & Botanical Reserve Hotel Quito

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