We arrived in Tena around 3pm and checked into our Hostel in the “rainforest”. Our host recommended a local Turkish food place for dinner with ‘extra crispy fries’ 😂 tbh we have only had soggy fries since we’ve been here so I was a little intrigued!
The place was just a tiny little kitchen with some outdoor tables to sit at. Nate and I both got the falafel plate- and the fries were definitely crispy! (Restaurante Turco)
Our room at the hostel is like a cute little hut. They also only have compost toilets- there’s a normal toilet seat but there’s a bucket underneath and you throw sawdust on after you’re done! Surprisingly it doesn’t smell at all plus it saves tons of water and they end up using it as fertilizer in a month’s time!
There are also 3 dogs at the hostel! One is pretty friendly- his name is Pumba and he just sleeps by the stairs all the time so I always give him some pets before passing 😬
We finished watching Coach Carter for the night and then went to sleep pretty early.
The next morning we had a delicious breakfast at the hostel of croissants and fruit and eggs. We headed off for a caving and canyon hike with our hostel host Tony!
It was about a 45minute drive to the cave. We walked about 15minutes to get to the cave itself. Tony is a nature expert so any time he recognized a plant he stopped to explain what it was if you could eat it/drink it, how it helped you (ie give you energy).
The cave itself we were in for about 45minutes. We didn’t have headlamps so Tony gave us these tiny windup flashlights. It’s safe to say they didn’t really work LOL. I relied mostly on the light from Tony’s headlamp to not die. We got plenty wet going through- thankfully we were given rubber boots to help! There was even about 3minutes where we had to basically army crawl in water in order to not hit our heads!
It was a fun route through the cave and we all made it out the other side!
From the cave, we drove about 10 more minutes to the hiking spot / lunch place. We had a quick lunch first that Tony packed (basically pasta salad) and some guayusa tea. Guayusa leaves are a natural form of caffeine and one cup of tea is supposedly equivalent to a cup of coffee! Someone decided to manufacture it and sell it in the US as well- called Runa. Apparently Channing Tatum swears by it and drank it a bunch while filming Magic Mike 😂😂
After we ate we headed into the rainforest! We had about a 45minute hike to this natural pool where we would cliff jump into! Again, along the way Tony gave lots of random informational facts about nature. He could definitely survive out here.
Here is a grasshopper that had a parasite mushroom that slowly killed it. NEAT-URE
On our walk to the cliff jump we were walking by some rapids when I slipped on a slippery spot. I ended up sliding down all but 2 feet from the edge! I grabbed some random weeds to stop myself from falling (and maybe dying tbh) into the rapids! I was thoroughly spooked and shaking after that but only had a small cut on my thumb!
Naturally, right after this is when we had to do some suspect climbing to get to the cliff jump! We had to cling to some rocky cliffs overhanging the rapids where if you did slip you’d be pretty f’d. Tony was very nice though and was being extra careful with me since I’d just fallen and he could tell I was a bit shakey. Thankfully we made it without any issues! At the end of the climb we jumped into the water and let the current take us to the area where we would be cliff jumping!
The cliff we had to jump was about 12meters high (like 40feet eek). The way the cliff was from up top though it didn’t seem that tall and the way you had to jump wasn’t very complicated so I actually wasn’t that nervous! Once I jumped though I could see that it was much higher than it looked and definitely got a nice amount of water up my nose when I landed!
See the cliff behind us that we jumped off!
We swam a little in the pool and then climbed into this little cave to take a picture with a waterfall!
After we had our fill of exploring we started the trek back up to the car. We ran into a family on the way with a little boy (maybe 5) who was running around everywhere. He was talking constantly- in Spanish so I understood like every 7th word he said. Nate ended up racing him at the end to the top which he seemed to enjoy!
After we changed out of our wet clothes we hopped back in the car and started the ride back to the hostel. On the way we stopped at a market area and Tony told us he’d see if they had some larva for us to try. I was like….. um…… no thank you? But he ordered 3 and ate the first one telling us it tasted like bacon… then Nate ate one and also said it tasted like bacon. I was pretty skeptical about this whole situation but I wasn’t going to not eat it so I bit it off the stick in one bite andddddd IT TASTED LIKE BACON. No joke literally if you blindfolded me and said what does this taste like I would’ve said bacon. The only thing I didn’t like was the head was crunchy and I couldn’t stop thinking about how the crunching was the head I was eating 😂 Apparently different larva taste like different things depending on the tree you get them from (Tony said he likes the ones that taste like coconuts). So yeah I guess if you ever go to Ecuador try a larva? LOL
By the time we got back to the hostel it was already 4pm! We just relaxed until about 6pm then went to another market type place for dinner. Tony recommended getting this fish that is cooked in a leaf- Maito Tilapia. I was a little skeptical because the fish was a full on fish with eyes and a mouth but it ended up being really delicious!
After dinner we just relaxed in the common area of the hostel. I made a new friend who didn’t leave my lap for about 2hrs!
Hostel Tony was able to book us a guide to transport us to Amazoonico Animal Rescue for the morning. We left the hostel around 8:15 and drove 30minutes to a restaurant area where we went looking for Luis (thankfully he wasn’t too hard to find). To get to Amazoonican we had to hop in a boat and ride for about 20minutes!
AmaZOOnican (get it?) is an animal rescue where they try to rehabilitate animals and release them back into the wild. Our guide said she wasn’t great with English but she did a pretty great job explaining all the animals and why they were there and when/if they could be released back into wild.
We saw some really beautiful parrots 🦜 who had been captured as pets and had their wings clipped. Depending how bad depends on how they can heal / be re-released. Parrots live for like 70-80 years and are monogamous!
We saw all sorts of other animals (don’t ask me their real names): rainforest pigs, tiny monkeys, spider monkeys, lots of other monkeys, etc.
The spider monkeys had little babies clinging to their backs which was so cute but also made me think of Twilight 😂😂
The tour took about an hour (it was $4/person so pretty cheap). We got back in the boat and only went about 5minutes before stopping at an island across the way. Turns out our boat driver was actually an animal expert cause as we started walking and he pulls out a tripod and fancy camera and shows us this owl way up in the trees- no idea how he saw it! (He sent all the pictures he took so plz enjoy these fancy photos)
We then walked a bit further to this lake and walk out on a dock and he grabs a stick to stick some raw meat on and stick in the water to get the Caiman (basically alligators) to get them to come closer – apparently they aren’t dangerous to humans? Even though they were eating raw meat…. LOL
Little guy chowing
We also saw another random bird that was pretty cool!
Here are some gross slugs as well
After exploring the island for about 20minutes we got back on the boat and headed back to the starting point. We had a nice lunch at the man’s restaurant (Ahuanoruna) of soup and chicken and rice and random sides- very filling!
Fun times in Tena- off to Papallataca!
Stay: Hostal Pakay – Av. Antisana y Manuel Maria Rosales, Barrio 30 de, Tena, Ecuador (+593 6-284-7449)