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“Extraordinary birding experience”

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San Jorge Eco-Lodge & Botanical Reserve
Ranked #24 of 111 Hotels in Quito
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 9 August 2013

Jorge Cruz has purchased big blocks of wild forest (some virgin) in four different eco-systems in Ecuador, reserving them for birding and hiking - a really inspiring endeavour. We spent a week total over the three areas that have been developed so far (Quito, Tandayapa, and Milpe) and saw over 250 bird species in 7 days. Both Jorge senior and his son, Jorge Luis, are gifted and knowledgeable birders and were willing at every turn to assist the novice in both identification and sighting strategies. They asked about our goals for the trip and customized their plans and assistance to those.

The food at all three lodges was outstanding, and the service always friendly and efficient. The rooms just kept getting better as we went from Quito to Tandayapa to Milpe. If I were to do it over again, I'd spend at least three full days at Milpe. Don't cut this trip short!

  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank Lynn K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviews (335)
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147 - 153 of 335 reviews

Reviewed 22 July 2013

My family and I had only one afternoon and one night at the eco-lodge (July 12). There was a minor glitch at the airport on arrival and both Jorge Luis Cruz, the owner's son, and Dr. Cruz were extremely apologetic and more than made up for it. The food was very good, and the hummingbirds were great. The service at the lodge was wonderful and very caring. Jorge Cruz was a knowledgeable and charming guide to the wildlife around the lodge. And Dr. Cruz actually drove us to the airport the following morning (at 3 AM!) - the discussion during the drive was great - in depth about birds in the area and in the US. We are planning to return soon and to do the birding circuit.

  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled with family
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2  Thank cgriff511
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 July 2013

I traveled by myself having booked the six day tour of all three lodges. I wears daunted at first when I found I was the only guest. By the way, I am a 70 yr old male.
On the first day I met and was guided by Jorge Luis Cruz, the owners son. It was fantastic. Both he and Dr. Cruz are unbelievable. Both are like walking encyclopedias with superhuman vision. All the reviews I read we're true. Igot 171 birds , 151 of the lifers.
The beds were all comfortable and the lodges at Tandayapa and Milpe are brand new.
You work for those birds. Up at five to get to the feeders for sunrise. Then the chaos begins. I could not keep up with all the birds. I was constantly photographing and making notes to insure which was which. The Jorge would see a bird at a glance and name it and be right.
The hiking can be tiring if you are out of shape but it is rewarding. So is the short night walk for owls, don t miss it.
Overall it was fantastic. I felt like I was visiting an old friend. If you are thinking about it, do it. You will not be sorry. It was all I hoped for.

Room Tip: Lower rooms at Quito, #5 at Tandayapa and a upper one at Milpe
  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled solo
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6  Thank Aplesq
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 June 2013

I was recently visiting Ecuador with a group of hikers from Angeles chapter of Sierra Club organization. We were booked on a 9-day ecotour in the Andes and 4-day Amazon jungle extension. The tour itinerary was prepared by San Jorge Eco-Lodges and Botanical Reserves Director of Marketing & Sales Mrs. Cheryl Korowotny with office in CT, USA who also made all tour arrangements. She is a top travel professional, prompt, friendly, unfailingly helpful even when she had to deal with several difficult last minute changes in the schedule due to our twelve hour flight arrival delay to Quito. The tour went extremely well. When we landed at the airport in Quito past midnight we were greeted by a friendly driver and, to our amazement, by Dr. George Cruz, a native Ecuadorian, who owns and manages four ecological reserves and three beautiful lodges , each located in a different climate zone, different natural environment just two hours drive of one another. We enjoyed our stay in the beautifully restored 18th century Spanish Hosteria set in the foothills overlooking Quito as well as the historical and cultural tour of Ecuador’s capital the next day. From here we moved to the Tandayapa Valley Eco-Lodge and Botanical reserve in the cloud forest. We were fascinated by the rich diversity of plants, a beautiful, pristine cloud forest and by the huge number of hummingbirds of different sizes and colors. No wonder, Dr. Cruz established a hummingbird sanctuary here with beautiful hiking and birding trails and an open air hummingbird restaurant surrounded by feeders – a natural paradise preserved from human impact. Add to this delicious cuisine, freshly squeezed fruit juices, meals prepared from locally grown veggies, lots of fish and seafood. And Happy hours with chilled drinks and cocktails in the evening…All this high up in the hills overlooking a deep green valley? It’s magical!

Our visit at San Jorge de Milpe Orchid and Bird Reserve was yet another special experience. De Milpe is located in tropical forest with dense vegetation and plants with extremely large leaves. It’s a jungle with beautiful trails, lots of small streams and waterfalls where visitors can swim and soak. This place is like an open biology book, a bio lab, a delight for the eye and a curious mind. The brand new De Milpe Lodge is gorgeous, the rooms so bright, colorful and spacious! We loved the open dining restaurant with a beautiful view of the green forest stretching all the way to the horizon. From here we could spot and take pictures of the iconic birds like Toucans and Aracaris that are flying around and resting on the branches. Our host, Dr. Cruz led all our hikes. He is an outstanding English speaking guide with a lifelong passion for nature, birds and conservation. He shared his impressive knowledge of ornithology, plants, wildlife and other related field with humor and enthusiasm that is contagious. You can’t help falling in love with these amazing nature reserves and their friendly staff. They would do anything to make visitors feel welcome and good. This is a real eco-tourism, the kind we all want.

The Amazon jungle extension on the Napo river in the Yasuni Natinal Park, arranged by Cheryl Korowotny, also exceeded our expectations. The Sani Lodge situated at the beautiful lake was simple and nice, with a lovely restaurant and a bar area. The bungalows were clean and comfortable. The meals were delicious. Our expert native guides were very knowledgeable and genuinely friendly . We enjoyed hiking with them across muddy swamps on log bridges through dense deep green jungle learning about medicinal plants, rainforest vegetation, birds, insects and wildlife. Gliding silently in our canoes across the lake and on the narrow streams under the canopy of the trees, looking for sea birds, monkeys, turtles, anacondas and Black Caimans was truly special, an amazing adventure.

Room Tip: They are all good, but some corner rooms have more windows, better view.
  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled with friends
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5  Thank Ana C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 June 2013

San Jorge Eco-Lodge - we visited all three lodges. Good food, great service and caring people. The knowledge of the birding guides was incredible. I exceeded my goals of bird species viewed. The orchid viewing tour was interesting as well as the side trip to the Tulipe museum. All the lodges were first class. My favorite lodge was at Tandayapa although it is clear that the new lodge at Milpe will surpass it as a birding lodge. The trails through the various eco-zones were well planned and easy to follow. If they build a lodge in the Amazon, you can bet we will return. Clearly this lodge's goal is to meet the desires of its clients. The Cruz family definitely displays a pride of ownership and for the length of time of visit we felt like family.

  • Stayed: June 2013, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank nem55ba
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 June 2013

After visiting this jungle paradise, I now know why people tour Ecuador! All the Ecuadorians we encountered were incredibly helpful and providing tourist service was their main focus. We booked our tour in January, for 3 days of birding and two days of orchid tours. What we saw and visited went far beyond my expectations. Starting @ 10,000 feet at the Quito lodge, the air was cool and required warmer clothes in the mornings and evenings. I'm glad I brought a pair of flip flops to walk around on the brick floors of the rooms. We had an excellent guide for three days and he took it in stride the air was thin and required a few minutes for me to catch my breath before moving to the next part of the hike. The guide took an interest to make sure we saw birds known to every eco-zone. He was incredibly knowledgeable and could rattle off the name of the birds we spotted as well as identify them by sound. After two nights in the Quito lodge, we moved to the Tandalayapa lodge for the next two nights for yet another eco-zone. We saw hummingbirds and tanagers galore. Coffee was served at dawn, and it was a contest to see birds, manage my binoculars and drink coffee. The birds won though! Our tour continued on to the Milpe lodge with a four story observation tower which looks out over the tree canopy, Dr Jorge Cruz was our bird/ plant expert and he could identify every bird / plant we saw as well. Dr Cruz in an enchanting entrepreneur who puts his visitors as his one and only focus (although, he was busy managing his business behind the scenes). His knowledge and genuine interest in his visitors and their satisfaction were well noted. We saw everything we had signed up for on our tour plus some other side adventures: Tour of Inca grounds where religious rituals were performed in large swimming pools, visit to an Ecuadorian Cheese factory. During our tour of the five ecozones we saw about 130 different bird species. This was an amazing adventure for our first tour of Ecuador and the phrase of "magical birding tour" is a great way to capture the essense of our experience during our stay of the various properties.

  • Stayed: June 2013, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank Kelly S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 June 2013

While properties focus on birding tours there is so much more. We spent a few days between the San Jorge Eco lodge and the Tandayapa lodge and found that it was the highlight of our trip.
We planned our trip around seeing the Galapagos Islands and, while they were spectacular the lodges tucked away in the highlands, cloud forest, rain forest and amazon river basin were fantastic. Thinking we would explore the mainland before our departure we booked a few days with the San Jorge Eco lodges. What an amazing find. We new instantly that we could come back and just explore Ecuador. We highly recommend sometime in Ecuador for anyone considering travel in South America.
The staff with the San Jorge Eco lodges were fantastic. They have a local number in the states and Cheryl is easy to talk to and makes all your arrangements for your customized travel needs. Best food of our entire trip was with them in all inclusive trip package that allowed us to hike and explore or join others traveling the "Magic birding circuit". While we are not "birders" we found seeing and learning about them much more interesting than we would have thought.
The owner Dr Cruz has published books about birds in the different eco zones that you will see and also on medicinal plants found in each zone.

Room Tip: Our room in the cloud forest at Tandayapa was at tree level and 3 sides of the room were all windows...
  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled as a couple
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7  Thank leonardifinstad
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 & Botanical Reserve Hotel Quito
San Jorge Eco-Lodge And Botanical Reserve

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