Tena, Ecuador sits in flat lands of the Amazon basin while covered by the shadows of the country’s great volcanoes. The town provides a gateway to exploration into Ecuador’s part of the great Amazon rain forest. This part of the jungle is perhaps the most accessible in the entire Amazon region and does not leave visitor’s disappointed. Beyond being a base for searching the jungle for wildlife, Tena is also a hub for adventure sports which are abundant in the area. This sleepy town makes for the perfect place to stop for a night, buy supplies, and check emails before heading into, or after returning from, a jungle excursion.
- Banking: There are a couple ATMs in town. At the gas station you will find a Banco Pacifico machine. Down by the bridge into town near the Cositas Ricas restaurant
- Internet: The fastest internet in town is up near the bus station (go to the main road and turn right walk two blocks) although there are a couple places with decent internet near Amarongachi Tours. The cost is usually about a dollar an hour.
- Health: The hospital in town is near the bus station.
- Taxis: There are taxis everywhere in town and the taxis have a flat rate charge of 1US$ anywhere in the city.
Things to do in Tena
- Rafting: This is some of the best rafting in South America. The trips are either class 3 or 4 and because of the warm river waters there is no need for a wet suit. The scenery is amazing and the waves are a lot of fun. The cost is between 40-50US$. The best company in town is a place called “Rios Ecuador”
- The Zoo: In a major flood that happened last year, much of Parque Amazonas was wiped out. However, I’ve heard from friends living in the area the park, which is found on an island on the river, is back to full operation.
People don’t often come to Tena unless they are planning on doing some sort of jungle excursion. My recommendation is to go to the good people at Amarongachi Tours (located in the Cositas Ricas restaurant and ask for an excursion based in Shangri-La Lodge). You can email “Loco Julio” at email@example.com and tell him I sent you. The excursions based out of this lodge include meals, amazing day trips (such as a canoe trip to Amazoonicos, cayoning, and river tubing), and one of the most amazing views you have ever seen from the lodge’s dinning area.
***UPDATE*** Please note that due to a very unfortunate incident on October 21, 2011 the Shangri-La Lodge burned to the ground. Julio will still be able to offer you excursions in other locations… but the Shangri-La is no longer. I will update once it has been decided it the lodge will be reconstructed. We are very sad about the fire, and my heart goes out to my very good friends who run the lodge.
Where to Eat in Tena
Tena is definitely not a culinary destination, but if you are looking for a quick meal check out Cositas Ricas which serves set lunches. They also serve a great hamburger.
Where to Stay in Tena
If you need to stay a night in town before or after your excursion you might want to try Hostal Los Yutzos which seems to be the most popular backpacker’s spot in town. The cost of a private single room is about 20US$.
Getting out of Town
There are regular buses to most Ecuadorian locations. The most popular are listed below:
- Quito: 5-6 hours
- Banos de Agua Santa: 4-5 hours
- Ambato: 5-6 hours
- Riobamba: 9 hours
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