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.
- 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