The whitewater capital of Ecuador, Tena is situated near rivers offering Class III and Class IV rapids. It’s a lazy, quiet town bordering on the Amazon jungle, with people strolling by the main river or cruising through town in their SUVs and pick-up trucks. Bring your mosquito spray because there are plenty of bugs.
Chance Of Hooking Up Rating: 2 out of 5 ?
You’ll find yourself without much to do if you don’t sign up for some sort of activity with a tour operator. The only real sight of Tena is the shaky suspension footbridge, which offers nice views of the Rio Tena. Near the footbridge there is a mini-island you can launch inner tubes from.
The best restaurant in town is Cositas Ricas, a block away from the footbridge. They offer a large menu including the delicious but artery clogging hamburger with fried egg. Bella Selva, also near the footbridge on Orellana, serves decent pizza. A couple doors down, Cafe Tortuga is a very chill coffeehouse that has snacks, juice, and ice cream.
When you want to go rafting, I recommend the River People. They offer rafting and kayaking trips of varying difficulty and length, including some jungle tours. For $70 you can raft down the exciting River Jondachi in an all day trip that has a filling lunch and celebratory beers at the end. Just hold tight when you get to the “waffle maker” rapid.
It is completely dead on the weekdays but the town somewhat comes to life on weekend nights. Check out Yage Bar near the footbridge for reggaeton music and strobe lights. Other bars on Orellana serve beer and not much else. For being a small town, the girls here are of decent quality when compared to Quito.
Brisa del Rio (On Orellana just south of the footbridge)
$7/night for dorm bed. Very clean, with good balcony view where you can indeed feel the river’s breeze. Owner will probably greet you from his bed in fuzzy slippers. Soft, luxurious toilet paper with aloe. Includes filtered water, towel, and one mini-bar of soap (you can steal more from the empty beds). Owner says there is a safe but it could be his bedroom nightstand for all you know. Right above Cafe Tortuga.
August is culture month, which means every Friday of that month you get treated to amateur singing and dancing performances from the locals.
Tena On The Blog
An encounter with two prostitutes on a park bench in Tena led to development of the Roosh Travel Sex Rule:
Do not pursue a girl who approaches you first. It’s okay if she gives you eye contact and a small smile to encourage you, but if she walks up to you and starts flirting immediately, things are not what they seem… Even though 98% of the girls in Ecuador are unattractive by Western standards, I am getting a kick out of the attention, mostly in the form of very extended eye contact and “Where you from?” line of questioning. I think it’s my beard and height because Ecuadorian men are unable to grow lush facial hair and I’m taller than all of them, past, present, and future… Continue Reading
Other Cities In Ecuador
If you're only going to visit only Ecuador then I recommend you get this guide, which is far more detailed than the continental guide above, with options that cater to a range of budgets instead of only the shoestring backpacking crowd. Also it gives more respectable treatment to small cities and towns that the larger guide breezes over with a paragraph or two.
South America On A Shoestring Guidebook
This is the guidebook that I used in my six month trip in South America. The maps are excellent, the information is complete and thorough, and the reviews are accurate, which is why it's often called "the bible" by many travelers. The only problem is that everyone else has this book so if you are the type of person that wants to hit the isolated small towns you will be disappointed. My advice is to use this book for its maps and information on getting from city to city, but talk to the locals and other travelers for those isolated gems that Lonely Planet for some reason didn't find worthy to include.
Spanish For Beginners
My copy of this book is so beat up and weathered it's disintegrating before my eyes. I took it with me to South America because I loved how it was organized in a logical way that kept me motivated to keep studying. Lessons start short and easy and increase in complexity as you tackle frustrating readings that help take you to the next level. The only downside of this book is that it was originally published in 1957 so some of the vocabulary is very dated. Still, you'll be hard-pressed to find a modern equivalent of this book whose teachings approach the same quality. Last time I checked you can grab a used copy from Amazon for less than a dollar.
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