Tena is sometimes known as the gateway to the jungle in Ecuador. It is a city that is easily accessible by road in Quito, and it is capital of the Napo Province of Ecuador. Tena Ecuador is located in the Amazon rainforest, and it is a handy place from which jungle visits can be organized.
When thinking of how long to go to Tena, it depends on how many outdoor activities you want to do. Generally speaking, a day or two may be sufficient, but if you explore the surrounding areas you might want a bit longer. In this Tena travel guide we will look at the highlights in this Amazonian town, what to do, when to go, how to get there, nearby attractions, where to stay and what to eat, as well as Insider recommendations for your time in Tena.
Tena town itself does not have many highlights- it is more that Tena is a great spot from which to access everything to do in the surrounding area. One highlight may be spending a couple of days at a jungle lodge, to learn more about life in this region and experience the Amazon first hand.
There is a lot to do in Tena and its surroundings. One place that is worth a visit is AmaZOOnico. This is an animal rehabilitation center in a jungle reserve. As well as getting to see the animals, it is an informative spot too. For those that like to be active and enjoy water sports, white water rafting and kayaking are available here. The Jatunyacu River is a particularly good place for rafting. Nearby Laguna Azul, which is said to have “powerful energy” also makes for an interesting visit. For more information about things to do around Tena, see the section below, Tena Nearby Attractions.
Amazon weather is unpredictable. The fact that Tena is in the Amazon rainforest should give you a clue about the weather here, however. You can expect rain many days – though it does not rain every day, and it tends to be drier than you might think. In general you can expect heavier rains in the summer months of June through September. While this might first seem unappealing, it is worth remembering that you may see a wider variety of wildlife at this time of year, as the water supports the ecosystem in the jungle.
There is not a particularly well defined high season in Tena, as it is good to visit here all year around. There are likely to be more visitors during the summer holidays for North America and Europe (June through August). Accommodation is likely to be busy over Christmas, New Year, and other Ecuadorian public holidays, and around these times it is best to book in advance.
Some may be interested to learn that Archidona, near Tena has several festivals throughout the year. The culmination of the Queen of the Kichwa festival comes about in April – which may be worth a look.
People usually travel to Tena by road. The drive is an adventure in itself. Heading out of Quito, the road winds up towards the stunning Papallacta pass, before dropping down into warmer and more lush landscapes as the road nears the jungle. You can take a public bus to Tena from Quito, and it takes about 4.5 to 5 hours. It is a bit quicker, and more convenient/comfortable to take a private vehicle, such as going on an organized tour, or with a guide. This will be a bit more expensive than the public bus. There is a small airport at Jumandi, near Tena, but there are no flights to it at present, due to a lack of passenger numbers. Once in Tena, getting around is easy, as the town is small, and you can walk to most places. If you do want a taxi, these are available in the town.
Jumandi is a very interesting place to visit as it has a cave complex. Here you can take a tour through the caves, which involves a bit of wading and a bit of swimming, and some sightseeing by torchlight along the way. This quite the experience, and well worth a visit.
Archidona is an interesting colonial town, and it is an important center for the numerous Kichwa communities in the region.
Misahualli is a small town not too far from Tena. It takes around 30 minutes by car to get between the two. One of the highlights of this town is the abundance of monkeys – some of which you will come across in the town square.
San Rafael Waterfall
The San Rafael Waterfall is a stunning sight to behold, water crashing down amid stunning jungle vegetation. You’ll need to get transport or take a tour to the falls. Once you’re there, the walk to the waterfall takes between 20-30 minutes.
It is also possible to visit Kichwa communities in this area and learn more about the culture here. One place to find out more about the culture is at the KAMAK Community Ecotourism Center MAKI.
Tena has a wide variety of accommodation options. There are popular hostels, such as A Welcome Break Hostal, through to jungle lodges, such as Hamadryade Lodge and hotels with a pool, such as Terra Luna Lodge. Whatever your budget, you should be able to find something for you in Tena.
Tena is a sizeable enough town that there are various different restaurants and cuisines to suit most tastes and needs. Popular choices include Café Tortuga, Guayusa Lounge and The Marquis. One popular food option in Tena is fish of various varieties. Look out in particular for Tilapia. You might also want to try fried plantain, which is available in many places here.
If you aren’t going to the jungle elsewhere in Ecuador, then we recommend you spend a day or two at a jungle lodge in this area. This helps get a great insight into how local people live, and you should see some interesting wildlife too. Our top pick of the other attractions is the Jumandi Caves as the tour is a little bit different from the run of the mill.
Get in touch today and we can help you organize your Ecuador trip to include a visit to the town of Tena.