Tena has evolved as the ambassador of the jungle, a cheerful hodgepodge with two fat rivers intersecting at its heart. White-water paddlers get giddy in the rafting and kayaking capital of Ecuador; there are so many rafting options and a cold beer and toasty bed back in town. Even if the river’s not your cup of tea, this is a good place to kick back and visit nearby waterfalls and indigenous communities. Breezes off the Río Tena and Río Pano keep the climate comfortable.
The capital of Napo province, Tena was founded in 1560 and plagued by early indigenous uprisings. Jumandy, chief of the Quijos, led a fierce but unsuccessful revolt against the Spaniards in 1578. Today, the area is largely agricultural – cattle ranches and coffee and banana plantations abound. The anniversary of Tena’s foundation is celebrated on November 15, when live music and community events take place the entire week.