Rainforest in ecuador - tena travelogue

Diego Arias at the Galapagos Islands

SOLEQMASTER

Tena is known as a rainforest city. The capital of the province Napo is an ideal starting point to explore the Selva, the tropical rainforest in Ecuador. The journey took me to beautiful places of untouched, pristine nature and into the absolute darkness of the Jumandi Caves!

How can I get to Tena? Which animals can be observed in the wild? And what awaited me in the darkness of the caves?  Which excursions are worthwhile in the surroundings of the city?

How to get to Tena

From the Quitumbe terminal in the south of Quito, buses run several times a day to Tena in Ecuador’s Amazon region. The journey should take a maximum of five hours. I was on the road for about six hours and when I arrived in Tena, first of all I was hit by the humid heat that one should be prepared for in Tena. Sun cream and mosquito cream are recommendable.

The rainforest town Tena and the Amazon park "La Isla”

In Tena the two rivers Pano and Tena, after which the town is named, flow together. On an island between the two rivers lies the Parque Amazónico “La Isla” (Amazon Park “The Island”). You can reach it via a bridge. In its middle is not only the entrance to the park, but also a lookout tower from which one can enjoy views of the park, the town and the two rivers.

A visit to the park is best in the morning after the opening of the park (around 8 am). At the park entrance I was advised not to visit the park in the afternoon – not because of dangerous animals, but because of the “gente mala” (bad people) who are in the park. Also in the morning I should not go too far into the park and stay on certain paths. Nevertheless, on my short walk I had been lucky to see the only tapir living there.

Excursions in the surroundings

Mishuallí - Boat trip to the rainforest "Comunidades"

Mishuallí is about 17 km from Tena. From Tena you can go there by bus in about one hour or by taxi. From this small town you can take a boat trip along the Río Napo to one of the “Comunidades” on the banks of the river. Here you can get the wildlife of the rainforest in Ecuador, its dances and culture from the locals and buy handicrafts and homemade jewellery made from what the rainforest has to offer. The visit of one of these Comunidades is not uninteresting, but very strongly oriented towards tourists. The animals that are kept there live in very small cages.

More exciting was it for me to watch the monkeys living in their natural habitat on the beach back in Mishuallí. But be careful: Glasses, shiny smartphones and other objects interesting for the monkeys can be stolen by the animals. The monkeys do not hesitate to jump on people’s arms or backs.

The Jumandi Caves​

The Jumandi Caves are definitely worth a visit. There you first have to pay 2 USD entrance fee to the outside area of the caves with swimming pool. For a tour through the caves you have to pay another 3 USD. But a tour is a great experience! Exploring the caves on your own is not possible and also not recommendable, because inside it is not only completely dark, but also wet and slippery. You can observe bats, see huge stalagmites and stalactites (both rarely occur together) and swim under a waterfall. Either when entering or leaving the caves you have to swim a bit, climb along a rope and move through narrow passages. Clothes and shoes that can be wet are a must!

La Laguna Azul (The Blue Lagoon)

“The Blue Lagoon is neither a lagoon nor is it blue,” I was told before I went there and convinced myself of it. The Laguna Azul can be reached via a bumpy, unpaved access road, but there is also a bus. The entrance fee for foreigners is 3 USD. At this place a small river flows into the Río Jatunyacu. The latter is worth seeing because of the lava stones that form grotesque shapes in the water.

The smaller river has four pools where you can swim surrounded by the fascinating rainforest vegetation and several smaller waterfalls. During my visit it had unfortunately rained before and the water was murky. Otherwise, one can find here crystal clear, turquoise shimmering water. Further information can be found on the website of Laguna Azul.

A visit to the rainforest town of Tena and its surroundings with caves, waterfalls, rivers, special vegetation and animals is absolutely worth it! The rainforest in Ecuador, with its picturesque, wild and pristine nature, is full of hidden, mysterious places to discover. Tours to the Amazon region of Ecuador can be found at our Amazon Ecuador Tours, for example the Yasuni Rainforest Tour or the Cuyabeno Rainforest Tour.

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