THINGS TO DO IN TENA
How to get there
From Banos - The bus journey with Transporte Banos takes 3 hours and costs $5 (£3.70)
Things to do in Tena #1 - Marvel in the beauty of Laguna Azul
When long-term travelling you see so many amazing places that sometimes you almost don't feel impressed anymore. Every now and then you find somewhere that just puts it all back into perspective for you, how lucky you really are. Laguna Azul was that place for us. It is probably one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen. Set in amongst a jungle like setting with the river running off to the side is a beautiful set of natural pools and mini waterfalls. Weather you want to chill in the pools or explore the surrounding jungle, you can easily spend a whole day here. You can take a direct bus from the Centinela bus station on Ave Del Chofer for $1.50 (£1.10). There is a $3 (£2.20) entrance fee which goes towards the upkeep of the park which is run entirely by the local residents. Through an agency you can expect to pay $25 (£18.50).
Things to do in Tena #2 - Hike to the Latas waterfalls
Natural beauty is one thing Ecuador has in abundance and these waterfalls are another little hidden gem. From the Jumandy bus station on Alejandro Pasos, take the bus towards Misahualli and get off at Latas (see bus schedule below). From there the entrance is clearly marked on the left side of the road. To get to the waterfalls you have to hike for around 40 minutes through the park which is neither too steep nor strenuous. At the end you'll find a beautiful waterfall where you can swim, cool off and get some great pics. The cost with an agency $15 (£11.10). If you go on your own you'll need to pay $0.50 (£0.35) for the bus and there is a small $1.50 (£1.10) entrance fee to the park.
Things to do in Tena #3 - Mingle with monkeys
Misahualli is a small town about an hour bus ride outside Tena famed for its Playa de los Monos (Monkey Beach). The beach where the Napo and Misahualli rivers meet is small, cute and surrounded by thick jungle foliage. The main inhabitants are, as you may have guessed, monkeys. These adorable and mischievous (seriously, watch your stuff) little rascals sleep, swing and play their days away and you can get up close and personal with them. Despite what you may be told when you get off the bus in the main square there is no entrance fee for the beach, anyone saying otherwise is just trying their luck. To get to Misahualli from Tena take the bus from Jumandy bus station. A tour through an agency will cost around $15 (£11.10) but, if you take the local bus will cost you only $0.75 (£0.55)
Bus Schedule Tena to Misahualli
Things to do in Tena #4 - Cruise the river
Once you're done admiring the cheeky primates we'd recommend taking a relaxing ride down the river. There are a bunch of guys with boats near the beach entrance who will undoubtedly approach you at some point within the first 10 seconds of you arriving. Through an agency you'll probably pay around $25 (£18.50) and these guys will try to charge you the same but, depending on your negotiating skills, you shouldn't be paying more than $8 (£5.95).
Things to do in Tena #5 - Ride the river rapids
If a relaxing river cruise doesn't quite cut it for you then you may want to try your hand at rafting down the Jatunyacu river. Ecuador is famous the world over amongst adrenaline-chasing rafters and the Jatunyacu river is one of the most well-known. Whilst we are fans of bypassing agencies and doing things ourselves, we'll be the first to admit that attempting this without professionals is just plain stupid, if not suicidal. That being said, there is a section of the river towards the end of the rapids where you'll find people floating along in rubber rings. You can buy a ring for a few dollars and jump on in There are plenty of tour companies in town charging between $25 (£18.50) - $40 (£29.65) depending what package you opt for.
Where to stay in Tena
For an incredibly relaxing and peaceful place to sleep, we highly recommend Hostal Tena Naui. Although it is located a little bit on the outskirts it offers the most incredible views of the city. The rooms are big and clean, there is a well-equipped kitchen and the WiFi is pretty decent too. Downstairs there is a large terrace to relax on and take in the sights. An absolute bargain at $14 (£10.35) per night.
Where to next
Latacunga - This is the starting point for The Quilotoa Loop trek. Take the Transporte Banos to Ambato (4 hour) for $6 (£4.45) then change to the Cotopaxi bus to Latacunga (1 hour) for $1.15 (£0.85)