Tena is a quiet city, but an often pretty and safe town in which to stroll. The cathedral fronting the main plaza is an attractive blue-and-white building with two steeples. There are several stone-and-sand beaches on the Tena and Puno rivers, where locals wash their clothes or swim. The main attraction in town is the Parque Amazónica (tel. 06/2887-597), a small zoo and botanical garden located on an island at the confluence of the Tena and Puno rivers. It is reached via a small bridge located on the riverfront a couple of blocks south of the main pedestrian footbridge. The park is open daily from 8am to 5pm. Admission is $2 (£1.35).

Many folks enjoy visiting the nearby town of Archidona. Just 10km (6 1/4 miles) north of Tena on the road to Baeza, this quaint town maintains a sense of timeless tranquillity, with architecture evocative of its colonial past. The two-tone black-and-white-striped church is said to be an imitation of the main Catholic church in Siena, Italy, and while Archidona's is nowhere near as majestic, it's worth a quick visit.

Just a few kilometers north of Archidona are the Cuevas de Jumandy (Jumandy Caves; tel. 06/2889-185). This extensive cave system is a popular tourist destination. There's a basic little recreation complex near the entrance, with a couple of pools, slides, and playground areas. The main cave entrance is lit with floodlights, but the caves are best seen as part of guided tour, which allows you to explore much farther and includes a strong flashlight or headlamp, as well as rubber boots -- a help on the moist and muddy hike. Bring a bathing suit: One of the more adventurous parts of the guided tours is the chance to swim in the cool interior pools and rivers. In fact, if you intend to explore the caves deeply at all, you'll have to wade or swim. Most guided tours combine the Jumandy Caves with a stop in Archidona. The caves are open daily from 8am to 6pm. Admission is $5 (£3.35) and includes a 45-minute guided tour.

While a host of guided tours of the local rainforests are possible, I recommend signing up for a visit to the Jatun Sacha Biological Station (tel. 02/2432-240; www.jatunsacha.org), a 3,500-hectare (8,649-acre) private reserve and field station. Developed to promote environmental education and conservation, Jatun Sacha has well-maintained trails and a rotating stable of biologists, guides, and volunteers. Over 565 species of birds and nearly 900 species of butterflies have been spotted here. Jatun Sacha is about 25km (16 miles) south of Tena, and can be reached by road or by river.

If you want to do any adventure or organized tours, check in with Agencia Limoncocha ★ (tel. 06/2887-583; limoncocha@andinanet.net), at Avenida del Chofer and Sagrado Corazón de Jesús; Hakmatecuad Travel Agency (tel. 06/2886-744; hakmatecuad@gmail.com), at 12 de Febrero and Marañón 167; or Amarongachi Tours (tel. 06/2888-204; www.amarongachi.com), at Av. 15 de Noviembre 438. All offer full- and multiday tour options.

Get Wet -- Tena provides access to some of the best white-water rafting and kayaking in the country. You have the choice of everything from Class III to Class V rapids. The most popular rivers are the Upper Napo, or Río Jatunyacu, a long and almost constantly moving Class III affair, and the Río Misahuallí, a rough and rugged Class IV+ that is wet and wild. The Misahuallí in particular is gorgeous, passing through virgin forest and a deep gorge, and includes a portage around the rushing Casanova Falls. The scenery along both rivers is beautiful. The Jatunyacu is no slouch, either; its name in Quichua means "Big Water." For beginners, children, or timid adventurers, there's the Río Anzu, a much gentler, yet still moving, Class II and Class III ride.

The best local rafting operators are Agencia Limoncocha (tel. 06/2887-583; limoncocha@andinanet.net), Ríos Ecuador (tel. 06/2886-727; www.riosecuador.com), and River People Rafting (tel. 06/2888-887; www.riverpeopleraftingecuador.com). Rafting trips run $40 to $75 (£27-£50) per person, depending on which river you run and the size of your group. Any of the above companies can arrange for experienced kayakers to kayak these rivers.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.