Tena - Where Modern Living Meets Ancient Traditions
Tena is a beautiful town situated near the Amazon forest in Ecuador about five hours from Quito. In the past Tena was known as an important trading post during the colonial era. Today it is still an important commercial center and is also the capital of the Napo Province. Although there is a lot of commercial activity here the native people have continued to keep their local customs and traditions for visitors to observe and enjoy.
Tena has a population of about 13,000 people made up of three local Indian tribes: the lowland Quichua Indians, the Chibcha and the Quijos. The town has a pleasant climate with rainfall all year round, which is usual for a rainforest city. Due to the high rainfall of this region there are a lot of natural problems, such as landslides, that have to be dealt with. This affects transport into Tena and surrounding areas quite a bit. Visitors can fly into the area using the small airport or use the bus services that regularly come through. There are taxis that you can take, but they tend to be very expensive and it requires a bit of haggling to get prices down to an acceptable level.
Tena is a wonderful town to visit if you are up for a variety of adventures that can be started from this point. It doesn't matter what you want to do - whether it's trekking through thick, lush rainforests to enjoy the diverse plant and animal life unique to this area or enjoying whitewater rafting on the many rivers located here via kayaking or rafting - Tena offers it all.
If you are looking for a more cultural experience visit the different Indian communities in and around Tena. It is wonderful to still be able to visit and see the traditions of the native people that have been part of their culture for hundreds of years. Depending on where you go visitors may also be given the opportunity to participate in some of the local activities, such as traditional dancing and shamanic rituals. You may also have the privilege of watching the preparation of an alcoholic drink called chichi. Maize, yucca and rice are left to ferment and then later a juice is made from what is left.
There are two rivers that cut through the town and it's along these that you will find pebble and sand beaches. You can also visit the local zoo and the stunning botanical garden called the Parque Amazonica. A visit to the Surnaco Volcano standing at a height of 3732 meters, found in the Sumaco Napo-Galeras National Park, is a must. If you would like to taste some of the local dishes then try out the restaurant called Cositas Ricas. Otherwise you can enjoy Italian food at Pizzeria La Massilia and fish and chicken cuisine at Chuquitos.