Tena, Ecuador


Tena (Lago Agrio), Ecuador, has a population of about 80,000, but another site says about 24,000, so take your pick. Tena is located in the central north of the Amazon Region of Ecuador, on the side of the eastern mountain range of the Andes Mountains. The town is crossed by the Tena and Pano Rivers. They merge in the city center. Between the two rivers is a wildlife refuge/park which is nice but old and desperately in need of renovation. There are capuchin monkeys (see the photo album) living in the trees and supposedly a tapir, but I didn't see it.

The town was founded in 1560, but you won't find any historical architecture here. The town never really developed until the 20th century. Tourism is one of the most important industries in Tena. The other major industries are logging, agriculture, and aquaculture.

Tena has a tropical climate. The average daytime high of 30° C (83° F), and the nightly average low of 23° C (73° F). The city's elevation is about 598 meters (1962 feet). The average yearly rainfall amounts to 4360 mm (172 inches) of rain. The humidity is very high, typically between 85% - 92%.

So, my impressions: Tena a pleasant place to visit and use as a base for adventure sports, but there's really nothing of interest in the city itself. The park, Parque Amazónico La Isla, would be great if it was renovated. I heard stories about there being robberies in the back areas of the park, but when I walked through the park, exploring all of its corners, I saw nothing or nobody of concern. The town has a nice and apparently relatively new malecon/boardwalk/promenade. The city is easily walkable.

My goal is to find a new place to live. So to reach that goal, I am traveling most of South America, visiting the countries of Ecuador, Perú, Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay, passing through a bit of Brazil, and finally visiting Uruguay. I have a list of towns, about 70 that meet these qualifications: Cities with average day temperatures of 22-28° C (72-83° F) and night temps of 14° C (57° F) and higher; and a population between 28,000-300,000. I analyzed climate and population data of around 700 towns in the countries mentioned above and then pulled out the ones that meet the previously mentioned criteria, which leaves about 70. My preference leans towards towns of less than 100,000 people.  And, now that I have visited more than 130 towns/cities (not including more than 70 in Colombia), I've decided I will want an inland town. I love the beach and walking in the warm water, but getting sunburned is just too easy, even on a cloudy day. At least here in Ecuador. I've also decided that any town with more than 100,000 population will be too big. I've decided that any small town/city (less than around 80,000 population) that meets the temp specifications and has a supermarket and ATM is one worth considering to live in.

So, to reach my goal I will visit those towns and discover which one calls out to me - "Chip, Chip, make your new home here, this is your new home town". That hasn't happened yet, but the towns listed below are very close to giving me that feeling. At any rate, I have visited very few tourist attractions and archeological sites, etc., those will have to wait for another trip through South America.

My Top 10 list has these towns on it:

  • Puyo, Ecuador
  • Moyobamba, Peru
  • Encarnación, Paraguay
  • Formosa, Argentina
  • Roldanillo, Colombia

During my travels in Ecuador, I visited 35 towns/cities. In Perú, I visited 38 towns/cities; in Chile, only five towns; and in Argentina, I visited 16 towns. In Uruguay, I visited five towns, and in Brazil, three. And in Paraguay, I have visited 26 cities. That's 128 towns/cities outside of 77 I visited in Colombia while living there for 9 1/2 years.

Next up: Nueva Loja, Ecuador.