Overview

The massive Amazonian region of Ecuador as a whole is still very un-developed. While there are famous attractions such as the Yasuni and Cuyabeno Reserves there are other places you can visit in this beautiful region that are easier to travel to and easier on your budget.

Tena and its neighbor Puyo are the largest towns in the Amazonia of Ecuador. They are portals, if you will, to the dense jungle. Tena is developed and stocked with restaurants that cater to foreigners, hostels and hotels that cater to adventure-seekers and a mild nightlife that cater to all. You’ll find Amazonian Tour Operators’ offices in Tena to get your adventure started. All operators are online and also have offices in Quito.

Attractions

In and around Tena there are ‘easy to experience’ attractions that are fun for both the serious adventure-seekers and the not so serious ones. Places like Parque Amazonico and Cavernas Jumandy are great attractions to patron as they are educational, fun, and support the local tourism industry.

The most famous attraction of Tena, however, is the collection of rivers. From class I to class IV, these rivers are the Mecca of rafting and kayaking in Ecuador. Tour operators have well-organized, all-inclusive trips at affordable prices. The rafting and kayaking in the province of Napo cater to those wanting a unique sight-seeing experience as well as those wanting an extreme white-water experience.

However, if you are looking to enjoy the Amazonian culture, flora and fauna without deep jungle exploration Tena is your destination.

Fun and unique attractions in and around Tena include:

  • Misahualli: A touristic community along the banks of the Misahualli River. The main attraction are the howler monkeys that live in the trees on the banks. Bring fruit to share with them but watch out for the males. A local guide will be nearby. Catch a canoe from this town to visit Museo Kamak Maki.
  • Museo Kamak Maki: A community-based Ecotourism attraction. A local indigenous guide will take you through an ethno-botanic garden, exhibits including traditional dress, musical instruments and model animal traps. The tour is completed with a small 'zoo' of endemic animals. Guides are friendly, speak spanish and a little english and are happy to tell tales of the jungle and give you tips on where to visit next in the Tena area.
  • Cavernas Jumandy: A well-organized tourist attraction for cave exploration. You have various options as to the extremety in which you tour these caves from an easy walk to adventurous cavin. All tours are led by an indegenous tour guide, some speak english. This attraction also has a large swimming pool. The main attraction of the caves are the swimming holes inside the caves themselves as well as the famous formation of Jumandy's Penis. Drink three drops of the water that is forming this stalagmite and you will be fertile enough to have many children. The caves are near Archidona.
  • Parque Amazonico: Zoo and Botanical Garden. This attraction is on a small river island in the city center. To access it you can take a canoe waiting at the banks. There is a small entrance fee. Leisurely walk the well-marked paths that lead you around the island. Paths are complete with interpretive signage identifying local flora and fauna.
  • Indigenous Food Stalls of Archidona:Food stalls serving local indigenous cuisine. Take a cheap bus or pay a higher taxi fare from Tena. 

Shopping

Tena itself has shopping for both locals and foreigners. There is a large daily market that is larger on weekends. You can find local foods to try as well as goods that make great souvenirs. In town there are souvenir shops that keep irregular hours. In these shops you will find unique handcrafted gifts or their knockoff counterparts. Regardless, you can find great souvenirs to represent your Amazonian experience.

Restaurants

Most restaurants in Tena are typical Ecuadorian cuisine. You can also find restaurants that serve food that cater to the varous nationalities of travelers who visit this town. Hot spots like Cafe Tortuga and La Arana are pricey for the region but serve decent food and drinks.

Nightlife

Most travelers of Tena are of the backpacking variety. Most locals go to the karaoke bars or stay in their community's cancha (futbol field) to drink Pilsener. Nightlife in Tena is mild with a few dance clubs like La Gallera and fun bars like La Arana. All bars are in the same area and are easy to get to. Very affordable taxis are available at any time if your hostel is off the beaten path. 

Transportation

All attractions in an around Tena are easy to access by bus or taxi. For help finding buses simply ask the staff at your hostel/hotel or any local in town. The people of Tena are friendly and are happy to share their knowledge of their town.

Tena is incredibly easy to get to from Quito as well as Guayaquil with direct buses. There are also less frequent bus lines leaving from cities like Cuenca and Riobamba.