Tena is a town in Ecuador's Amazon Jungle area. Tena is the capital of the Napo Province an attractive and quiet city in the Amazon rainforest. Tena is known as the “cinnamon capital" of Ecuador, Tena has emerged as one of the top industrialized center as founded by the missionary explorers. Tena is the home to a major regional hospital and many tourist related businesses, including a small size airport and a vital bus terminal.
Tena is a popular launching point for jungle, kayaking and rafting tours in Ecuador's Amazon rainforest region. The entry to the city is marked by a statue of the indigenous hero Jumandy, who courageously led an uprising against the Spanish colonizers in 1578, and was subsequently executed.
At the unification of the Tena and Pano rivers in the center of town lies a popular pedestrian bridge, "el puente peatonal". The rivers become the Tena River, which soon joins with the Misahualli and eventually flows into the Napo River. The Napo winds its way east into Peru and Brazil, and is in effect the 9th largest tributary to the Amazon River.
Tena is popular with travelers, since it is known as being peaceful, orderly, clean and more geared towards tourists. Many inexpensive hotels, tourist agencies, and restaurants cater to backpackers who commonly use the town as a jumping-off point for trips into the rainforest. Tena is surrounded by forested hills and is located at the edge of the Andes, which are visible to the west.
Tena and its surrounding indigenous communities are also bases for many volunteers working for reforestation projects, with community support in development initiatives in diverse, but connected areas such as bio-piracy, ecotourism and capacity building. Ecuador has one of the best politically organized indigenous populations in Latin America and Tena houses two major confederations, Fonakin (Federacion de Organisaciones de la Nacionalidades Kichwa de Napo) and Ashin (Association de Shamanes Indigenas de Napo); one of the major stand-offs during the 2001 indigenous uprising in Ecuador, took place here.
In comparison to Puyo, the capital of the neighboring province Pastaza, which is both bigger and growing faster, Tena has a lively night life with bars that cater to foreigners. Friday and Saturday nights crowds of volunteers, guides (both indigenous and foreign), and local young people assemble in the "discotecas" playing reggaeton, salsa, and pop music. One will also find a wide variety of "comidas tipicas", preparing and serving food in the traditional manners of the local peoples
Bus from Quito leave from the Quitumbe terminal (about 5 hours via bus). Make sure you don't drink too much before your travel, as the buses have no toilet and sometimes they don't make pit stops. Locals selling food and drink will often come onto the bus at various stops selling food and drink at reasonable prices. The road is mostly in excellent condition as the government has recently invested funds into the national highway system. The landscape is gorgeous -- spanning from high paramo to dense cloudforest with stunning waterfalls to low rainforest. There is also direct bus from Baños (4 hours) and Guayaquil (10 hours). If you are coming from the North of Quito (Ibarra, Otavalo, Tulcan), and want to save the time of going in and out of Quito and of changing of terminal (2 hours), you can take a bus in direction of Latacunga and get dropped in the rondabout of Pifo, where you can take another bus going directly to Tena. Buses go by every around every hour, so you got to be ready to wait on the road.
More info about bus schedules and travel times can be found at AndesTransit.
A taxi trip in Tena costs 1 $ only for places outside it costs more. As an orientation a trip from Tena to Archidona costs 4 $, which is about 8-10 km.
Most roads in the Oriente have been paved and are now in excellent conditions. The road from Quito to Tena is no exception. There is regular bus service to Tena via Baeza, but you should book in advance as the buses fill up fast, particularly on Fridays and Sundays. There is a small airport outside of Tena with commercial flights, small white truck-taxis are abundant in the city. It's a good idea to negotiate your price before getting in because the taxi drivers in Tena, like everywhere else in South America, often overcharge.
Biological Station "Jatun Sacha" (1 hour bus drive). A nice way how to walk in a jungle on a marked and maintained paths. There is a tower about 30 m tall you can climb up and have a view over the jungle. At the Biological station there is a possiblity to stay or chill around. They will ask for the 6 dollars fee to enter the area.
Animals Rescue Station "Amazoonico". (1.5 hour bus drive).
- Ñawpak Causay. beside Jatun Sacha
Tena is famous for the rainforest and rivers that surround it. The jungle, especially if you get outside the city 15 or 20 kilometers, is impressive. First-timers will be changed forever after they lay their eyes on a pristine stretch of Amazon. There is no shortage of jungle guides or tour operators, many have offices in the centre of town.
Rafting. Tena has reached near legendary status with whitewater enthusiasts since the 2005 World Rafting Championships were organized in the area. Tena boasts the best rafting and kayaking in Ecuador and, some say, the world. The jungle rivers
Raft Amazonia offers rafting, kayaking and jungle tours. All of their guides are qualified and experienced locals who love to have fun with the customers. Raft Amazonia provide sustainable tours and operate with the greatest respect for the environment which they operate in, the local community and their customers.
Ríos Ecuador is the oldest rafting and kayaking tour operators in the country and their headquarters is in Tena, that ought to tell you something about the quality of the rivers!
Ríos Ecuador offers a popular river called Jatunyacu, a fun river for people who have never been rafting before or people who are looking for big waves and excitement. The Jatunyacu is a grade 3 river, Ríos Ecuador also offers trips to other rivers in the area with grade 4+. But for more rafting.
Make sure the boats are not over load and always have a safety kayaker.
- Caving. By taking a short bus to the nearby town of Archidona, one can show to the Jumandí caves and pay $5 for a less formal guided tour that involves a bit of swimming and climbing through small spaces. Cuevas de Jumandy - four kilometers north of Archidona on the road to Quito is a labyrinth of natural caves and tunnels that extend several kilometers underground. Don't be put off by the main entrance, once you get past the gaudy pools and loud music (I turned around my first time, thinking "this can't possibly be the place!") you are in for a treat. You can hire a guide from the changing-area reception desk and, reportedly, there are guides in Tena who will take you into the caves through other, less obnoxious entrances - ask around.
- Sumaco Volcano - is located in the isolated Sumaco Napo-Galeras National Park and it is easily one of the most intense experiences to be had in Ecuador. The volcano soars 3732 meters above the jungle and is surrounded by precipitous ravines and dense jungle, which have largely kept humans out and preserved its flora and fauna. You need a guide to reach Sumaco. Guides can be found in the villages along the Loreto Road, which meets the Tena-Quito road approximately 30 kilometers north of Tena.
- Jatun Sacha Biological Station - is a great place to learn about the rainforest. The station is continually conducting rainforest research and, as the second largest conservation organization in Ecuador, is involved in an array of sustainable development and forest protection projects. Jatun Sacha is on a road that parallels the southern bank of the Napo River. This road branches off the main highway 7km south of the bridge at Puerto Napo.
- Misahuallí - is a bustling and somewhat remote port at the juncture of the rivers Napo and Misahuallí. The village was the original Ecuadorian jungle tourist outpost, and after dozens of years and despite the entrance of Tena and other jungle towns into the tourism market, is still a popular starting point for jungle tours and canoe trips. Misahuallí offers well developed, though rustic, tourism services, including good craft shops, cafes, and lodging. The dozen or so capuchin monkeys that inhabit the central park are hilarious (beware- they'll take things out of your hands and bags) and amiable. But please do not feed the monkeys junk food.
·Archidona - a colonial town, founded in 1560, north of Tena, Archidona still serves as one of the region's main missionary outposts. It's also a business and social center for the small Quichua communities in its vicinity. Archidona's festivals attract people from all around and several times throughout the year there are Quichua beauty and culture pageants, in which contestants, drawn from the many Quichua communities in the area, compete for the title of "Queen of the Quichua". The pageants are a unique opportunity to hear Quichua spoken and sung and to see some very old dances and customs. There are several eliminatory rounds and the finale is usually held in April.
Protect the Amazon Rainforest near Tena! - For those of you interested in not only exploring the Amazon Rainforest but in conserving it, as well, you can do your part by adopting an acre of rainforest in the Ecuadorian Amazon or by adopting a chocolate tree, a vital resource in conserving this unique ecosystem for future generations.
- Ñawpak Causay, Comunidad Ñukanchi Kausay (Kilometer 25 via Tena-Ahuano), ☎ 093867367 or 087873316, . tours by request - $2. Nawpak Causay means "the traditional way of life" in Ecuador's indigenous language of Kichwa. This tourist attraction is an outdoor museum of life-sized traps which have traditionally been used by indigenous people of the Amazon for hunting (and even warfare!). All the traps are built by the community members out of all-natural rainforest materials, and are activated in demonstrations during the tour! The end of the tour involves a taste of guayusa tea - known by indigenous people for it's numerous health benefits, and a chance to try out a tratitional 4 foot blowdart! Call and ask to speak to Gregorio about the "trampas tipicas" Getting There: 1) You can get there via boat along the Napo river (they have a number of other trips that they also arrange, you can even tube down the river to arrive there!). 2) you can hop on a bus from Tena going to Ahuano and ask them to let you off at Ñukanchi Kausay, or you can get dropped off at Jatun Sacha and check that out before walking over to the Nukanchi Kausay (only a 5 minute walk down the road). Gregorio is also well versed in Amazonian medicinal plants, and leads a number of exciting jungle walks to see and talk about medicinal plants, shamism, and various jungle animals. If you have some time, stick around for a while. The community even has a bar, and can arrange meals & accomodation.
- Super Tia; is located next to the bus terminal on the road "15 de Noviembre" (the main road in Tena). Super Tia is the local super market that provides everything from fruits to toys. The prices are good and all products are marked. The opening hours are from 08:00 AM to 11:00 PM (Monday to Sunday).
- Local Market; Next to the bus terminal and behind the Super Tía you will find a local food market, boosted with fruit and veggies. Haggle over prices and get a more genuine experience.
Tena's selection of good eateries is sparse. But there are a few recommended:
- Chuquitos; turn left after crossing the pedestrian bridge and it will be just up the road on your left. High points are the good fish and chicken dishes, a bit more lively than normal, and great views of the river from their open-air dining room. Directly below Chuquitos is Araña Bar, which is a major meeting point for locals and tourists in search of a great night out. The cocktail list is extensive, and the owners are always welcoming. Enjoy!
- Cositas Ricas; on Avenida 15 de Noviembre near the pedestrian bridge. Standard but good Ecuadorian fare, i.e., chicken or fish with rice, avocado, and a small salad.
- Pizzeria La Massilia; located at the corner of Olmedo and Garcia Moreno. Nice thatched roofed open dining room and decent pizza and Italian food.
- Restaurante Super Pollo; on corner of Ave 15 de Noviembre and Augusto Rueda. Standard Ecuadorian fare at economical prices. Try the empanadas - they're delicious.
- Asadero de pollo Sin Rival; from the terminal terrestre go to Ave 15 de Nov. turn right and walk about 100m, on left side. Huge portions of chicken, rice, and avocado, with very quick service.
- Pizzeria Bella Selva; in front of the new bridge to Parque Amazonico, and also near the car bridge. Both locations have excellent views of the river and terrific pizza.
- Comida Tipica Yacuruna; near the Pizzeria Bella Selva between Av. Francisco Orellana and Av. 15 de Noviembre. Excellent choice of fish, chicken and vegetarian dishes.
- Cafe Tortuga; on Orellana, also near the footbridge. A charming little cafe with reasonably priced meals, good breakfasts, sandwiches, and great service.
- El Vagabundo; also near the footbrigde, it is located between the Pizzeria Bella Selva and the Cafe Tortuga. Is a quiet little "bar", which also offers some small meals and pizza. It is owned by a German and thus is a meeting point for german speaking people in Tena.
- The Marquis Grille; across the footbridge from the main town. Serve excellent steak. Considered the best food in town. Chicken/Apple plate very good.
- Roots & Beats- a chill spot spinning reggae, ambient techno, and other lounge music. The owner and his family are extremely hospitable and will make you feel at home right away. Beers, micheladas, cocktails, bar snacks and entrees all served in a cool upstairs bar constructed out of beautiful reclaimed wood. 15 de noviembre and Cesar Augusto rueda (infront of los yutzos hostel). 6-12pm (M-T), 6-2am (Fri, Sat), closed Sun.
- Community Ecotourism Kamak Maki, if you want to stay close to the jungle and make your travelling worth for the local communities as well as get to know the local at its best. Its on the way from Tena to biologic station Jatun Sacha, once you get on the bus you can ask the driver to leave you in front of it. More info: www.museokamakmaki.com
- Hostal Zumag Sisa, ☎ +593984399066, ([email protected]), . checkin: 24h; checkout: 13:00. Family run hostel, perfect for backpackers with spacious kitchens, barbecue area, a dining room, a laundry service, free Wi-Fi and a garage.In the terrace you will find hammocks and an outdoor room providing a stunning view of the city. Situated in a quiet, residential area, just a few minutes away from the bus station down the street od the 15 November right in front of the Hospital. They have single and double rooms and dorms, all with private bathrooms and ventilation. Motorhomes and campers are also welcome. dorm beds from 7 usd, privates from 10 uds.
- Hostal Limoncocha, Calle ITA 533, Tel: 06 288 7583. A popular german-run hostel which also has a connected tour company which organises rafting, kayaking and jungle expeditions. Kitchen with nice view, hot shower and fast WiFi every floor. Dorms are $7. Rooms from $8 per person, also perfect for long stay.
- Hostal "Brisa del Rio" ( River breeze) on Orellana near the footbridge is a nice backpackers. The rooms are large and open and only about $7 a night. The staff are helpful and kind.
- Terra Luna Lodge, Barrio Amazonas Road (5 min taxi ride from Central Park), ☎ 593-062886683, . checkin: 12noon; checkout: 12noon. wonderful, new lodge just outside of town center. Quiet, Pool, Tropical Garden, free WiFi, AC and Widescreen TV. $35per.
- Cabaña Achiyacu Wasi ([email protected]), km 14 via Tena-Pano-Talag junto al rio Achiyacu (14 km outside of Tena in a beautiful jungle setting. Take a local bus or a taxi (5USD, about 15 minutes)), ☎ 063-018832, . Very comfortable cabañas close to the river and the jungle with a great garden, hammocks, hot water and very good, reasonably priced homely restaurant (the owner used to be a chef, and cook delicious vegetarian specialities, prices start at 3.50 usd). Most of the ingredients come directly from the garden. A nice place to learn about eatable plants. English, french, quitchua and spanish spoken. 25 USD breakfeast included.
- Hostal Pakay, Barrio 30 de Diciembre. A German/Ecuadorian-run eco-hostel and tour company. Dorm $12 inc large breakfast (excelent quality). Family feeling, surrounded by vegitation.
- Jungle Roots (Glamping; [email protected]), Km 9.3 via Talag / Laguna Azul (km 9.3 via Talag from local public transport terminal Centinela), ☎ 593063018573, . Jungle Roots Camping offers ecological, comfortable and safe lodging in tents and bases to camp. If you want to stay close to the nature, disconnect and relax, this is your place! The price includes equipped tent or domes, wonderful typical amazonian breakfast, coffee, tea and potable water and access to fully equipped kitchen! It is the perfect base to explore all the nearby areas of Tena has to offer. Jungle Roots organize kayak, rafting and hiking tours and offers meals and helpful staff will be at your disposal to make the best out of your trip. · Outdoor fire place, shared kitchen, ecological bathroom with panoramic view, hammocks and more ... from $12 incl breakfast.
The bus terminal is quite small, there are buses leaving to Puyo, Quito and Baños regularly - about every 3-5 hours during day and night. The prices and services of the different bus companies are nearly the same, so you just need to check for the departure time.