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“Extraordinary family adventure” 5 of 5 stars
Review of San Jorge Eco-Lodge & Botanical Reserve

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San Jorge Eco-Lodge & Botanical Reserve
Km 4 Cotocollao-Nono Road, Quito 00000, Ecuador   |  
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MAGIC BIRDING & HIKING
Ranked #4 of 109 Hotels in Quito
Washington DC, District of Columbia
1 review
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“Extraordinary family adventure”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 7, 2013

The Magic Birding and Hiking Circuit of Ecuador lives up to its title. Staying at San Jorge is an amazing way to experience some natural and cultural splendors of Ecuador (such as 1,000 species of birds, 60 species of hummingbirds, and hundreds of varieties of orchids). National Geographic ranks Quito as one of the top 20 cities in the world to visit.

We highly recommend staying for at least 4-5 days at this wonderfully unique eco-resort with 4 different altitude locations with very different micro-climates up the Andes on the equator ... (We actually spent 12 magical days that started in the hills above Quito city at San Jorge Botanical reserve Quito (2,700 meters above sea level) and then descended to cloud forests in San Jorge de Tandayapa Hummingbird sanctuary and then went to the tropical jungle at San Jorge de Milpe Orchid with gorgeous waterfalls and waterfalls in pristine states that were held to be sacred by ancient Mayan descendants (Yumbas) who lived there around 1,500 BC.

Dr. Jorge Cruz and his family who started San Jorge Eco Resorts over 20 years ago before eco tourism became trendy ... invest tremendous energy in personally leading many of the guided tours and adventures (such as the mountain biking down 26km to Tandayapa, hiking through jungles to sacred waterfalls, driving up to barren highlands with natural hot mineral baths, and even throwing a wonderful New years Eve party. San Jorge's hired guides (Edison and Andrea) were very knowledgable and pleasant as well.

Each location provides delicious and high quality local foods. Each morning started with juice from local fresh fruits, eggs or empinadas. Lunch and dinner comprised appetizers, soups and mains made from local vegetables, and often locally caught rainbow trout. The families serving at each resort are kind and eager to please guests.

Christmas in Tandayapa was delightful .... We saw several rare birds and many varieties of hummingbirds simply by eating in the idyllic dining area overlooking subtropical parts of the Andes.

The Old Town is majestic (the elaborate "changing of the guard" ceremony at the presidential building in Independence Plaza on Dec 31 was very interesting). New Year in Quito is creative and fun. Men and boys of all ages dress up in drag with wigs and mourn the loss of their "husbands" (the dying old year). They swarm the streets and prevent cars from passing unless passers by donate to them. The streets are covered in life size stuffed doll effigies of politicians, sporting heroes, cartoon characters and others who are burned at midnight. Revelers jump over the bonfires of the burning effigies for good luck. of course there is lots of dancing throughout the night.

Dr. Cruz has written 2 books - one on medicinal plants of Ecuador in Spanish and English and another on Birds of Ecuador that will be released soon.

We noticed that many Americans spent one week in Galapagos and just spent 1 or 2 days at San Jorge. I don't think that 1-2 nights is enough to adjust to the altitudes and fully appreciate the diverse beauty at the various San Jorge locations.

It is not cheap, but it is a relatively safe but adventure filled way for extended families to vacation together.

Tips:
1. It takes a couple of days to get used to the high altitudes. Drink lots of water, bring tylenol for headaches, and don't sign up for super active events on first day.

2. Double check itinerary before you leave to confirm flight arrival - we had a mixup due to midnight plane arrival confusing dates. Our plane arrived early, and we waited for over an hour at airport. Local taxis do not know how to get to San Jorge ecolodge as it is far up.

3. Bring water shoes for San Jorge Milpe as rocks at waterfalls and water holes are very slippery. Check shoes for scorpions before you put them on (Ecuadorian scorpion stings can hurt but usually not life threatening)

4. You need to give San Jorge Quito staff 24 hours notice for jacuzzi to be warmed up.

5. if you visit the beautiful Otavalo Indian market (day trip 2 hours away from San Jorge Quito), enjoy the relative lack of being hassled. It is OK to haggle but usually around 25%.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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253 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (59)
Date | Rating
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English first
Canberra
1 review
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 3, 2013

This was an excellent introduction to Ecudorian central highlands and rainforrests. When they complete the lodges in the Amazon they will have a complete introduction to Ecudor. The Cruz family were remarkably hospitable and treated us like family. On New Year's Eve we joined in their ( including their friend) celebration that included the local custom of burning an effigy representing the old year and a crash course in Latin dancing. We went expecting to see Ecuador's amazing ecology and birds and got a true insight into Ecuadorian culture. A trip of a life time. Of course the birds are unique and remarkably easy to find. You do not need to be an ornithologist to enjoy the birds and the nature.

Room Tip: The lodge in Milpe were rather dimly lit. They have low wattage lights to be ecologically minded ( p...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Orono, Canada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 10, 2012

My wife and I stayed at San Jorge Quito, San Jorge Tandayapa and San Jorge Milpe from Nov. 17 thru Nov. 30, 2012. We found each of the lodges to be be clean, comfortable and all very different in a good way. The staff were very helpful, the food was excellent and the accomodations surpassed expectations. Guide service was more than adequate as we searched for birds and other wildlife. The pre-departure service provided by Cheryl (contact for USA & Canada) was superior and very helpful. We enjoyed our stay in Ecuador thanks to all of the people connected with San Jorge, and would not hesitate to recommend staying with them to our friends (in fact, we have already done so). Jim & Sherri, Ontario, Canada.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Surrey
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 6, 2012

We stayed at the San Jorge Eco-Lodge & Botanical Reserve for a couple of days before joining our tour group in Quito. We were favourably impressed with the welcome and caring hospitality we received. We were met at the Quito airport, even though our flight was four and a half hours late. The setting is an old hacienda at about 10,000 feet elevation. Our comfortable room with a balcony overlooked the valley and was a bit of a hike up the hill from the main lodge.

On our first afternoon we were quided on a hike to a waterfall, while looking at medicinal plants along the way. This was a very pleasant way to begin to acclimatize to the altitude and gain a sense of the ecological area. Our guide was very knowledgeable.

We would recommend that anyone planning to stay at the Lodge pay attention to the provided list of what to bring with you. The weather is very changeable and can be chilly. We would certainly come again and stay longer, visiting the other lodges as well.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cupertino
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 8, 2012

I am a travel agent who recently chose San Jorge Eco-Lodge for my large travel group to give them a much richer Ecuadoran experience than available from the hotels and conjestion in downtown Quito. They were not disappointed. San Jorge is a beautifully restored historic haciended located in the hills overlooking Quito. It was built in the late 1700's and was home to the Ecuador president in 1905. It is now privately owned and operated by Dr. Jorge Cruz and his wife Irene, both excellent hosts. Each guestroom is large, clean, comfortable and includes a separate, private bathroom with all modern conveniences and a working fireplace that is used to heat the guestroom. The restaurant is hacienda gorgeous. Meals are cooked by Irene using fresh local ingredients, including incredible chocolate that she makes from scratch from cocoa beans. The hacienda is home to some 200 bird species, including varieties of hummingbirds that frequent the dining area. The hacienda is located within an eucalypus forest with a number of hiking trails and gardens available for those who like to explore. San Jorge is somewhat remote from Quito. Taxis from the airport and downtown run about $10 and involve some travel by dirt road. I highly recommend San Jorge.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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1 review
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 4, 2012

We spent 10 days at the three ecolodges in October 2012. We went to Ecuador for bird watching and hiking. This trip provided us with excellent opportunities for both. The trails at each lodge were fantastic! The bird guiding was excellent- very knowledgeable! The service at each lodge was very good. We are both vegetarians and the food was great and accommodating to our dietary restrictions. Overall, very friendly staff with attention to detail. We enjoyed our trip to Ecuador very much and hope to stay at the ecolodges again in the near future!

  • Stayed October 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
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Fallbrook
1 review
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 27, 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, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
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
Phone Number:
Location: Ecuador > Pichincha Province > Quito
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#4 Romantic Hotel in Quito
#7 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. Comfortable Andes hacienda rooms with private bath/hot shower, decorated in typical decor. Outdoor mountain spring fed swimming pool, sauna, Turkish bath, whirlpool, 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, cultural sites & 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 (Upper Tropical Rainforest) all within 2 hours radius of Quito. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
San Jorge Eco-Lodge And Botanical Reserve
San Jorge Eco-Lodge & Botanical Reserve Hotel Quito

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