Tena (Napo province) – located 2 ½ hours via car southeast of Quito, eco-tourists interested in exploring Ecuador’s Amazonian regions often launch their expeditions from here. Tena has reached near legendary status with whitewater enthusiasts and boasts the best rafting and kayaking in Ecuador and, some say, the world. The jungle rivers on the Amazon side of the Andes are bigger and have more consistent flows than their west-Andean counterparts. They are also the cleanest and most scenic rivers in Ecuador.
The area surrounding Tena supports a large population of lowland Quichua Indians, and significant numbers of Quijos and Chibcha Indigenous groups, among others, live further out in the forests outside the city. It’s possible to visit many of these communities and to observe and sometimes participate in traditional dancing, the preparation of chicha (an alcoholic drink made by masticating maiz, rice or yuca and fermenting the juice), shamanic rituals, and blowgun competitions.
Tour operators offering white water rafting, kayaking and other eco-tourist activities from (or through) Tena include: www.imagineecuador.com; www.raftamazonia.com; www.riosecuador.com; https://riverpeopleecuador.com