My boyfriend and I signed up for a trip to see the forest reserves at Tandayapa and Milpe, he primarily was interested in seeing birds with friends from Seattle, and I was primarily interested in seeing frogs - we found both birds and frogs by the bucket loads. Tandayapa is steep and therefore, as our birding guide, Jorge, pointed out, was not too heavily impacted by farming. Luckily for the birds, mammals, frogs and snakes and lucky for us. The view from the Tandayapa lodge is as good a view from a road in the Andes but better in many respects because the forest all around is mostly untouched. The trails along the slopes also give great views of the neighboring cloud forest canopy.
The forest at Milpe is different from the Tandayapa cloud forest, it feels more lush but maybe that is because it rained more while we were visiting. The lodge here is more treehouse style than at Tandayapa but both have equally stunning views. We had the great fortune of having two guides, Gustavo and Rosa, to accompany us on a night tour to help us look for frogs. There were so many frogs that night that Rosa found the first one of the evening up her pant leg --- we are not making this up! The forest at Milpe was selected as an ecotourism site very thoughtfully. There are steep slopes with gorges cut by waterfalls and the diversity of plants is head spinning. The small size of our birding group (4) increased our opportunities to view the most wary birds but more importantly the exceptional spotting skills of Jorge (as well, Pablo and Gustavo had impressive abilities to spot birds in the darkened canopy) gave us greater opportunity. In addition to Jorge’s amazing spotting abilities, his knowledge of the birds (identifiable characteristics and calls) and plants was encyclopedic, and his enthusiasm for sharing this information was contagious and genuine. Moreover, he was the quintessential host, always concerned that our needs were attended to and graciously ensuring that our every request was met. Similarly the staff at both lodges saw to it that we were well fed with delicious food at every meal. By the time we left after a 4 day stay it was like leaving old friends.
If you want to see great forest, lots of birds and other animals that like to keep out of the limelight I highly recommend a trip to the San Jorge Hosteria lodges at Tandayapa and Milpe. They are well worth the trip and if you are limited on time, with Jorge as your guide, you will encounter more birds in a short period of time than if you tried to trek out across the open road on your own. I give Tandayapa and Milpe both an A++!
Thanks to Jorge’s great tour we got together the other night with the friends that we toured with at Tandayapa and Milpe to relive the many wonderful encounters we had through the lens of our many cameras. We rented a big screen and spent several hours pouring over photos! Mil gracias to our friends at Tandayapa and Milpe!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- San Jorge de Milpe Orchid & Bird Reserve has 2 Eco-Lodges on prime birding & hiking property, located on 260 acres in the Upper Tropical Rainforest. This private reserve offers spectacular scenery, pristine trails, running rivers, 11 waterfalls, over 450 species of tropical birds, mammals, hundreds of butterflies, numerous wild orchids, a wide array of tropical flora and fauna, and swimming at the waterfalls. GRAND OPENING - San Jorge NEW Forest Eco-Lodge with 12 Deluxe spacious rustic bungalow Suites with Views & Private Balcony with 2 queen beds & private bath. See birds from your room - picturesque large windows! Spacious open air restaurant & bar with views; reading room, lounge, 90' high bird observation Tower over canopy, hummingbird & toucan feeders. San Jorge Cliff Eco-Lodge (Scientific Research Center) with 8 double rooms with 2 twin beds & private bath, observatory deck, and active hummingbird feeders. Dine at our open air restaurants with delicious cuisine and beautiful rainforest ambiance, offering superb photography options. Both Lodges offer the ideal retreat for birdwatchers, photographers, and nature lovers alike. Guided Birdwatching, Hiking, and Natural History Tours can be reserved in advance, including transportation from downtown Quito. ... more less