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.
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%.
- 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