Ecuador Bird Watching Trip Report
March 4 – 23, 2007

Gerry and Denise Doekes
Norval,ON Canada

The Hosteria San Jorge was built as a traditional 18 th Century Spanish Hosteria. It consists of 200 acres in the Pichincha Foothills. San Jorge is the only reserve that offers the Magic Birding Circuit with the possibility of seeing over 800 species of birds; it covers almost all of the altitudes in Ecuador from the Paramo to the Sub tropical Rainforests.

March 4, 2007
Arrive Quito Airport, Dr. George Cruz waiting for us with very warm and friendly greetings, we transferred over to Hosteria San Jorge Botanical and Eco-Lodge. A big beautiful room with a cozy fireplace awaited us. It was such a joy to stay here and be so close to the city of Quito at the same time.

March 5, 2007
We had a day of rest to get acclimatized to the high altitude. After an excellent breakfast, which starts with a fruit plate and then a main dish of your choice, we then birded around the beautiful San Jorge Hosteria and Botanical Reserve. We had a 4-course lunch and dinner; all of the meals at both San Jorge's Quito and de Milpe Eco-Lodges are varied and delicious. The grounds surrounding the main Hosteria San Jorge Quito are full of courtyards, gardens and wild flowers that are very exotic, native and beautiful. The High Barren Plains and Highland Rain Forest surrounds the Hosteria and as you go up in elevation it changes into Paramo, absolutely breath taking.

March 6, 2007
Today we hiked the High Barren Plains and almost made it up to the Paramo area of the Hosteria with George who has a wealth of knowledge on the flora and fauna of Ecuador, George also knows a lot about the Ecuador and Inca history and will recite some ancient lore at request, we saw lots of birds as we traversed the beautiful trails and there was even a waterfall.

March 7, 2007
Went to Yanacocha Hummingbird Reserve which is in the Cloud Forest, 4 volunteer Biologists who devote their time and experience at all 5 of the San Jorge Eco-Lodges and Reserves were our guides today, they were very informative and identified a lot of the birds we saw. Very beautiful scenery, easy walking on the road and a gallery of hummingbird feeders as a reward at the end of the walk.

March 8, 2007
George and his wife Irina took us to the famous Nono-Mindo Road in the Tandayapa Valley, this Cloud Forest is part of the Choco Endemic Bird Area of Northwest Ecuador, between admiring the panoramic views we did see lots of birds, including the infamous Andean Cock of the Rock.

March 9, 2007
Irina drove us back to the Nono-Mindo Road where we did more bird watching and sight seeing

March 10, 2007
We went to San Jorge de Tandayapa today; this Reserve is located in the Cloud Forest of the Tandayapa Valley, we bird watched along the main road and up to the Hummingbird Reserve, we saw among other birds a total of 19 species of hummingbirds. What a beautiful Reserve, the views are magnificent from the bungalow deck, sitting there I felt like we were in a beehive with all of the hummers buzzing around us for hours and cooperating when we took their pictures. We had a lovely picnic lunch and relaxed while admiring all the exotic plants and birds in this gorgeous area.
Transferred to the San Jorge de Milpe Reserve in the late afternoon.

March 11, 2007
What a spectacular 2-story Eco-Lodge with a huge observation deck on both levels, offering us a view of the river gorge and surrounding Sub-Tropical Rainforest. We saw a lot of mixed flocks just from this deck. The trails are extensive and well groomed; the rainforest is full of birds, orchids and bromeliads hanging from the moss-covered trees. There are hummingbird feeders all around the open-air dining room so you can enjoy your meal and watch the hummers at the same time. An absolutely gorgeous Eco-Lodge. A must for your itinerary to stay here for at least 4-6 days, a bird watchers paradise for sure.

March 12, 2007
Bird watching on the many trails of San Jorge de Milpe is absolutely fantastic, we even indulged in swimming at 4 out of 5 spectacular cascading waterfalls San Jorge de Milpe offers. Very soothing, refreshing and lots of fun.

March 13, 2007
First thing this morning we went to the Observation site, from here you have a panoramic view for miles, this was a great spot to start every morning, parrots, toucans, swallows and tanagers abound. We then bird watched along some trails at San Jorge de Milpe and along the main road in from the high way, there was a lot of mixed flocks all around the fields. In the evenings moths are very numerous around any lights left on for the purpose of seeing these incredible creatures, some the size of my hand and some small and extremely colourful.

March 14, 2007
Went into the town of Mindo today, bird watched while driving along and at Nambillo Waterfalls, the highlight of the day was the Swallow-tailed nightjar at some cliffs on the way back to San Jorge de Milpe.

March 15, 2007
George and Irina drove us to Pedro Vicente Maldonado, which is a Sub-Tropical area; this lower altitude is very warm and humid. We saw a lot of different species of birds here.

March 16, 2007
Transferred back to San Jorge Hosteria Botanical Eco-Lodge.

March 17, 2007
Day of well deserved rest and enjoying the hospitality.

March 18, 2007
George and his family drove us to the famous Otavalo Market and surrounding shops. We had to make some big decisions when choosing some souvenirs for our friends and family, the variety of lovely handmade crafts, wall hangings and silver is quite extensive, with a lot of translation and help from Irina and Gabriella we had a lot of fun making our purchases.

March 19, 2007
George took us up to the Eastern Slope of the Andes into the High Barren Plains of the Papallacta Pass; this area is famous for their Volcanic Thermal Hot Springs. Very unique scenery in the Paramo, bird watched here for the morning then we went for a few hours at Cuyuja Gardens, there were lots of hummingbird feeders at the gardens and a Crested Quetzal watching over us, we then drove off to Baeza where we spent the next couple nights.

March 20, 2007
George drove us today to the Andes Cloud Forest of San Jorge de Cosanga /Yanayacu Bird & Wildlife Reserve, these 2 Reserves are beside the San Isidro Valley and is surrounded by 120,000 hectares of the Antizana National Park Reserve. This area is so untouched and exquisite I expected to see a spectacled bear at any time. There were so many birds on the trail up to San Jorge Cosanga that we went up and down the trail twice. There was one tree that had an amazing number of 10 Crested Quetzals, both males and females. One highlight of the day was on the way home we stopped at a cliff and saw the Lyre-tailed Nightjar. Definitely well worth your while to spend at least 2 to 3 days here bird watching.

March 21, 2007
An excursion not planned on our itinerary but it goes to show you just what a special person George is, we spent the day bird watching the road to Coca in the Sub-Tropical Rainforest of the Amazon Basin, we saw an unbelievable amount of birds, particularly the paradise tanagers. Orchids and other flowers were growing everywhere along the road.

March 22, 2007
Another well deserved day of rest and pampering at San Jorge Hosteria.

March 23, 2007
A morning of sad departure.
Special thanks to George and Irina Cruz who made this for us the best bird watching trip we have ever taken, their undivided attention to us, their desire to grant all of our wishes and needs was incredible.
Through their guidance and expertise we saw a total of 405 different species of birds. I would highly recommend Hosteria San Jorge Botanical Eco-Lodge Quito, San Jorge de Milpe Eco-Lodge, San Jorge de Tandayapa Hummingbird Reserve, San Jorge de Yanayacu Reserve and San Jorge de Cosanga Bird and Wildlife Reserve to everyone who wants to experience the incredible beautiful Country of mainland Ecuador and all of its exquisite birds along a Very Magic Birding Circuit.

Gerry and Denise Doekes
Norval, ON, Canada

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