My wife and I planned a couple extra days in Quito as an extension of our Galapagos Islands trip. We had heard that Ecuador was a great place to go bird watching but we are not really avid bird watchers so we arranged a one-day trip with the Magic Birding Circuit to see what it is all about. The contact, Cheryl, is based in the US and provided all the pre-departure reservation assistance for us and was really helpful, especially since this was somewhat last minute for us. Advice is to reserve ahead of time, be honest with what you can do in respect to hiking ability and birding ability or expectations as they say they can customize your trip (once there we found we could even arrange a trip up the volcano to see condors! although we stuck with the Cloud Forest and Nomo-Mindo road for our day). Recommend bringing light hiking shoes, hat, binoculars and camera. Can bring snacks but we picked up snacks in the small towns we visited during the day. We do not speak Spanish either but that was not a problem on the trip.
Very early in the morning our guide, Dr. George Cruz, met us in the lobby of the Sheraton Quito hotel where we were staying and the three of us drove to the town of Nomo to start looking for birds. We had our standard binoculars but Dr. Cruz brought a spectacular spotting scope that he expertly trained on birds that he spotted (but we could only hear) or were at great distances. He taught us how to better spot birds in the brush and educated us in their identities and how to photograph them with our camera (great photos through the spotting scope, didn’t need any big lenses). From there we went up the Nomo-Mindo road and saw many other types of birds out in the fields high up in the Andes. The landscape was beautiful too. We then went to the Eco-lodge in the Cloud Forest for a freshly prepared hot Ecuadorian lunch of soup and fish. The hummingbird sanctuary was there and we must have seen more than 15 types of hummingbirds, some endemic and rare, all from a few feet. These are all coming to feeders, so not as natural as out in the field but they are beautiful all the same and no need for binoculars. George turned us over to one of his guides who took us around the Cloud Forest territory. In the Cloud Forest we also saw several toucans, flocks of parrots, tanagers and many other birds and orchids. Throughout the trip we learned about some history of Ecuador and current conservation efforts. The knowledgeable guides and sheer numbers of bird species make the trip truly worthwhile. We even stopped by the original equator monument on the way back to Quito. Overall, quite an experience and a wonderful day in the Ecuadorian countryside with more birds seen that we thought possible. We now have lovely pictures (that we took) framed in our offices and Dr. Cruz’s bird book so that we know the identities of each of the birds in our many, many pictures.
One reason to write this is that many from out Galapagos Tour group had not planned to stay extra days and regretted that when they heard what we were doing, especially as they did not know this type of excursion was available. One couple did have a chance to book a trip with another of Dr. Cruz’ Magic Birding Circuit guides for a short trip up to the hummingbird sanctuary after talking with us. From our perspective, if we had investigated earlier this type of outdoors/wildlife opportunity we would have even liked to have seen more and stayed at one of the San Jorge Eco-Lodges one or two nights instead of or in addition to our stay in downtown Quito (although Quito is a great city and we enjoyed our stay). Loved Ecuador, guess we need to go back.
- 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