The Amazon without a Tour-Tena, Ecuador
So, you saw my post on tours in Tena, Ecuador, and decided to try your best on your own! Great! It’s going to be an adventure!
My first recommendation is to get a nice Tena map. Almost all the hostels have them. On there, they denote a city tourist office, off of the street Rueda, right next to the Hostal Los Yutzos. Go down the stairs and tell them you’re interested in doing a few day trips for yourself. They can recommend you a few places, particularly if you are interested in staying at Cabañas somewhere for a night or two. (Cabañas are going to be litle cabins further out in the rainforest. I didn’t stay at one, but there are a few beautiful ones, including the one associated with the Rescue Zoo (see below)).
From there, you can check out the surrounding towns, decide what types of things you do, and plan your bus trips.
Here are a few of things I did, and a few extra ideas!
On day 1, I headed out to the amaZOOnico animal rescue zoo, set along the river in beautiful primary rainforest. You can pay four dollars ($3 as an Ecuadorian citizen) to get a wonderful hour long tour (in English or Spanish) walking the paths of the rescue center through the rainforest, learning all about Scarlet McCaws, Capybaras, monkeys, and the cultural and societal problems that result in their stay at the rescue and rehabilitation center.
To get there: Ask your hostel or hotel for up to date info, but there are two/three ways depending on how much you want to pay. We ended up taking a bus for about an hour and a half and a 10 minute canoe ride. You can go to Ahuano and take a canoe for about 20 minutes and pay a bit more ($30 round trip). Or even take a longer bus ride from Misahualli.
It’s a must do. If you do end up doing a tour and side trips, make sure you ask if your tour is going here, as many put it on the itinerary.
Check their website to find their Jungle Lodges. Most of the profits go to the Animal Rescue zoo, so you’re really helping a good cause.
Note on the morals of a Zoo: Like me, most of you are probably a bit hesitant to encourage and support zoos. I normally don’t go to zoos at all, but after doing a bit of research and talking with a few people, it definitely isn’t keeping animals for the wrong reasons. They treat the animals respectably and attempt to rehabilitate all monkeys that they can.
Misahualli is a beautiful little tourist town about 25 minutes away from Tena. They have a big waterfall you can walk to, lots of canoes you can barter with to get a jungle ride, big giant trees at Punona, and a center square with monkeys running wild in the square itself. Please do be careful with the monkeys. Saw a little girl get attacked. Don’t provoke them.
Misahualli makes a great day trip, or a nice spot to spend a few nights. I would maybe even do my center base out of Misahualli. A lot more relaxed, though with that comes a drop in amenities and restaurants and buses leaving at every hour.
I send you to Pano a bit hesitantly. It’s a small little town, there are Cabanas Atuny that I did visit, and looked nice. They were doing repairs at the time and were thus not really open, but their preserve supposedly has beautiful waterfalls and lookouts.
The town itself has a river and some petroglyphs, Sapo Rumi. Upon arriving in the town (about 25 minutes from Tena), you can ask anyone how to get to either locales.
When I arrived, I asked two thirteen year old girls where Atuny was, and next thing I know, they were my “tour guides” for the whole afternoon. They were so friendly, we played soccer with the a first grade class, went swimming in the river, and went to a parent teacher’s conference. All in all, I loved Pano, though I could definitely see it being hit or miss.
There are caves to ask about further to the north of Tena, and multiple other types of cabañas you can find to stay at. Check out Tena’s government website and click on specific cities to find communities to visit!