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“Amazing birds and views near Quito”

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San Jorge Eco-Lodge & Botanical Reserve
Ranked #22 of 114 Hotels in Quito
Certificate of Excellence
Carlisle, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Amazing birds and views near Quito”
Reviewed 28 August 2013

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.

  • Stayed May 2013, travelled as a couple
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3 Thank Peter J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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328 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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English first
Lafayette, Louisiana
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 August 2013

We recently went on a trip to Ecuador. After considering many options for where to go on vacation, we chose Ecuador on a whim, and what a great choice that turned out to be. My husband & I love bird watching, hiking, plants, reptiles, mammals or anything natural.

After deciding on Ecuador as a destination, we started researching where to go for great bird watching and jungle hiking. We checked a lot of websites and kept coming back to San Jorge Eco Lodges. They have a representative in Connecticut named Cheryl who was great at answering all of our questions and making recommendations. We decided to book the 12 day bird watching trip. It offered lot of options for seeing different areas and habitats. I have to point out that we are intermediate bird watchers and had no idea what to expect. We were amazed.

We read some terribly outdated and incorrect information in guide books and on internet sites that there is a huge crime problem in Ecuador and that driving is dangerous and the roads are terrible. We took this into consideration in choosing San Jorge since they would be taking care of transporting us from place to place. Although it turned out to be unnecessary from a safety standpoint, it was nice to have them driving us since we were not familiar with the country and Quito would have been a challenge to navigate. The other factor is that renting a car in Ecuador is a considerable expense and having the benefit of someone else driving lets you look around and enjoy your surroundings instead of attempting to navigate. Also, we got to where we were supposed to be without getting lost!! We felt completely safe at all times while we were there. Also the roads are new and very nice. We definitely plan to go back and would choose San Jorge Eco Lodges for our bird watching tours. They also offer lots of other activities that we would like to try.

We started our trip in Old Town Quito for 3 nights to get acclimated to the altitude and to see the city. It was a great way to start our trip, although the altitude did not cause a big problem. The old part of the city was built by the Spanish in the 1500’s and many of those buildings are still there. There are lots of beautiful old churches throughout the old part of the city and most are within easy walking distance. Being in the city feels like you are in Europe.

We were picked up at our hotel in Quito to begin our bird watching tour by George, the owner of the lodge who told us a lot of the history of Ecuador and what to expect on the trip. Our first destination was the lodge in Quito, which was a great place to start. There were lots of birds on the deck outside of the restaurant and on the walkway up to the rooms on the upper level, which had a great view. We were able to walk around the grounds the first afternoon and see several birds and a nice waterfall. Delicious meals were prepared and served by Vicente and his wife with a delicious soup, lots of local vegetables and fruits and grilled or lightly fried meats or fish and dessert. Everything was very fresh and prepared in a healthy way.

For the bird watching tours, we started each day with local coffee and a great breakfast and then bird watching in different environments, which was awesome. There were trails in the mountains at Yanacocha where we saw lots of birds including several antpittas . We stopped in small village squares and along roadsides near rivers, where birds are known to be seen. Our favorite places were Tandayapa and Milpe, which were at the lower elevations. Being from Louisiana, which is at sea level, we had to take our time at the higher elevations. At Tandayapa there were feeders next to the eating area where we saw lots of toucanets, tanagers, barbets, motmots, and lots of species of hummingbirds including the long tailed sylph. Along the trail we saw the Cock of the Rock, which was incredible. New sections of Milpe have recently been completed and it is so beautiful with glass walls where you wake up to the birds right outside your room. There is also a great observation deck where we could sit in the afternoon. We saw lots of toucans and aricaris and so many other birds, we had trouble remembering them all. On the trails we saw the Plate Billed Mountain Toucan that was so beautiful it did not look real, then a Quetzal, which is a real treat. Our next place was the lowland tropical rainforest along a river with lots of birds. We then went over Papallacta Pass, which was impressive and saw birds that could only be seen there. On our way to Borja, where we were to spend 2 nights, we stopped in a town to buy a machete to bring home and I tripped on a sidewalk and hurt a toe. It got progressively worse with the hiking and I ended up having to get medical treatment for a dislocated toe. By that time the other members of our group had left since they signed up for a shorter trip, so only my husband and I were left. I was not able to hike, so had to miss the bird watching on the schedule, but George Cruz altered the schedule to fit our needs and took us places where I could hike more easily and to some markets and botanical gardens that we loved almost as much as the bird watching. We also went into Quito on the day of a World Cup qualifying soccer match that was being played in Quito and had an opportunity to experience the excitement of such an event, then watch it in a local bar with the Ecuadorians. Unbelievably great! At the end we were taken to the airport for a sad departure. We had such a great time and loved all the people that made this trip so wonderful, George, his wife Irina, his son Jorge, Vicente and Stalin, who cooked for us and were also guides. We are looking forward to going back to experience more of Ecuador. San Jorge offers all types of tours to fit different interests, so there is something for everyone.

Being intermediate bird watchers, we have not listed or noted the incredible number of birds we saw on our tour. We have been to Costa Rica a few times, and saw so many more birds in Ecuador on this tour with almost no people encountered to scare off the birds. For anyone interested in seeing birds at any level seriousness, we highly recommend a tour with San Jorge Eco Lodges.

Room Tip: We loved our room on the hill overlooking the grounds. To get to the main part of the lodge there i...
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  • Stayed June 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
3 Thank Gay O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
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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Helpful?
4 Thank Lynn K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tarrytown, New York
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
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
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank cgriff511
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Covina, California
Level Contributor
33 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
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
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  • Stayed July 2013, travelled solo
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    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Aplesq
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sierra Madre, California
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
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.
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  • Stayed May 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
5 Thank Ana C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tulsa, Oklahoma
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
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
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
3 Thank nem55ba
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

Property: 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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