Baeza to Tena or Coca

The other branch of the road from Baeza heads south to Tena, with a branch off this road going to Coca via Loreto . The route from Baeza to Tena passes near several important lodges, reserves and national parks.
The first village is
Cosanga
(population 900,
altitude 1900 m), 19 km from Baeza. Not far is
San Isidro
, an excellent birding lodge and reserve.

About 20 minutes past Cosanga is the
Guacamayos Ridge
, part of the Reserva Ecológica Antisana. A good stone path, from the parking area at the 2200 m pass, enters one of the wettest and most interesting cloud forests in the area. Many rare birds and plants are found here, including several orchids found nowhere else in the world. On a clear day there is a view of the vast Oriente spread out below. Much of the Baeza-Tena road southeast of the Guacamayos Ridge is flanked by very good forest, making this stretch ideal for birdwatching.

Parque Nacional Sumaco

Further south is the mostly paved
Narupa-Loreto-Coca road
which branches off the Baeza-Tena road near the hamlet of Narupa. The hilly upper section of this road is famous for exciting colourful birds, butterflies and plants. Even such rare birds as military macaws can sometimes be seen here and the gorge of the
Río Hollín
is especially beautiful. It is easiest to visit with a car, or you can get off a bus to or from Coca and then catch the next one going through, about once per hour but enquire locally regarding schedules and public safety.

Forty four kilometres east of Narupa is
Wawa Sumaco
, where a rough road branches north 7 km to the excellent
Wildsumaco
birding lodge and the village of
Pacto Sumaco
, which provides access to
Parque Nacional Sumaco
. There is good trekking in the park, six to seven days round-trip to the
páramo
-clad summit of
Volcán Sumaco
(3732 m). Local guides may be hired in Pacto Sumaco, there are three nice hiking shelters along the route and a basic community-run hostel in the village. You can try to make advance arrangements through the one public phone in town but it functions only intermittently. Take food, all camping gear and warm waterproof clothing for the higher elevations. Parque Nacional Sumaco lies at the heart of the much larger
Sumaco Biosphere Reserve
.

From Wawa Sumaco it is 39 km east along the paved road to the town of
Loreto
on the Río Suno, with shops and simple places to stay and eat, then a further 57 km to Coca.

Archidona

Continuing south from Narupa along the Baeza-Tena road is Archidona, 65 km from Baeza. It was founded in 1560 at the same time as Tena, 10 km further south. Once an important mission and trading centre, Archidona now has several pleasant rural hotels and reserves nearby. The small painted church is striking and is said to be a replica of one in Siena, Italy.

Around Archidona

Four kilometres north of Archidona on the road to Baeza is
El Arca
.
This zoo has 62 species on 12 ha, and offers half-hour guided tours. Also volunteer opportunities.

The road leaving Archidona's plaza to the east goes to the village of
San Pablo
, and beyond to the Río Hollín. Along this road, 15 km from Archidona, is
Reserva El Para
.
This 500-ha forest reserve has many rare birds and a nice waterfall.

Tours can also be arranged to the
Izu Mangallpa Urcu
(
IMU
)
Foundation
, www.izu-mangallpa-urcu.freehomepage.com.
This reserve was set up by the Mamallacta family to protect territory on Galeras mountain. It is tough going but the forest is wonderful.

Just outside Archidona, to the south, a small turning leads to the river. About 200 m along there is a large rock with many
petroglyphs
carved on its surface. There are quite a few others around Archidona, for example in Barrio San Agustín - ask around. These pre-Columbian petroglyphs are unique to this area. The symbols are no longer understood by the local people.

Tena

Some 75 km south of Baeza, Tena is the capital of Napo Province. This relaxed and friendly little city occupies a hill above the confluence of the rivers Tena and Pano. There are nice views of the Andean foothills, often shrouded in mist. Once an important colonial missionary and trading post, Tena remains a regional centre and has become popular with visitors for whitewater rafting and ethno-tourism. It makes a good first stop en route from Quito to points deeper in Oriente, and a number of worthwhile excursions can be organized from here.

The road from the north passes the airstrip and market and heads through the town centre as Avenida 15 de Noviembre on its way to the bus station, nearly 1 km south of the river. Tena is quite spread out. A pedestrian bridge and a vehicle bridge link the two halves of town.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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