Tena – the capital of the region of Napo – is located around 5 hours in the east of Quito. It is considered the gateway to the jungle since it is the last major city with 20,000 inhabitants before the vast wilderness of the Amazon jungle takes over.
This location makes Tena a great starting point for jungle excursions. Even for just one day you get a good impression of the adventures you might experience in the jungle. Not only do you see untouched nature without any interferences of human-made infrastructure – the deeper you get into the jungle the more wilderness you experience – but as well you will have the possibility to visit a cacao plantation including a chocolate factory in the middle of the jungle where you can make your own 100% pure chocolate. We all know that chocolate goes straight to the heart and soul!
Another great starting point to visit the different communities located around the Napo river is Puerto de Napo located only 40 minutes away from Tena. There you can travel to different communities by canoe and enjoy aspects of their cultural heritage, like shaman dancing or visit a botanical garden explaining the jungle vegetation and wildlife.
Being a town in the Oriente means that there are a lot of water streams nourishing the wildlife of the tropical rainforest. With a lot of rivers, this can mean only one thing; an abundance in opportunities to go rafting! Rafting in Tena is special since it gives you the chance to enjoy beautiful views of the jungle combined with the thrilling feeling of going down among the best rivers in the world.
Only 30 minutes by bus in the north of Tena (simply take any bus heading to Quito) are the Cavernas de Jumandy – Jumandy’s caves. Named after the legendary Jumandy – an indigenous chief – who escaped and hid within these caves when Francisco de Orellana – a Spanish conquistador – explored the Oriente in search of gold and riches. During your guided tour that lasts around an hour you will see various stalactites and rock formations as well as be able to swim in an underground river.
Tena is definitely worth a visit and there are plenty things to do!
Written by: Anna Leicht