To the caves north of Tena
The most visited cave near Tena is Cuevas de Jumandi, about 10 km north of Tena. I didn’t visit that cave but Cavernas Templo de Ceremonia and Cavernas Lagarto Matiri which are situated further north.
I had been told that I could take a bus from Calle Amazonas (near the airport) to Cotundo, which is only a short walk from Cavernas Templo de Ceremonia. The first bus arriving to the bus stop was not heading there and I talked to someone who told me a taxi would be around $7 (August 2013). I decided to take a taxi and stopped one.
After visiting Cavernas Templo de Ceremonia I wanted to go to Cavernas Lagarto Matiri near Mondayacu. To go there I walked along the main road and it took 15-20 minutes to come to Mondayacu. During the walk no bus had passed me and not many cars either. In Mondayacu I was lucky to meet Pedro in the grocery store as Cavernas Lagarto Matiri is situated on the land of his family. We decided that he should be my guide in the cave, and together with his wife we walked to the their finca, a walk of another 20 minutes.
After visiting Cavernas Lagarto Matiri (great adventure) one of Pedro’s relatives told me she was waiting for a taxi that would take her to Cotundo. I could go with her and from Cotundo there are buses to Tena. In Cotundo there was a bus, but no driver and no other people waiting, so I took a shared taxi to Archidona. I was really muddy so I had expected that I had to sit in the back of the pickup-truck, but the driver had something plastic for me to sit on. The shared taxi to Archidona was $0.50 and there it stopped at the bus terminal.
A bus to Tena arrived within a few minutes. It took less than 20 minutes to Tena and it was $0.25.
Cavernas de Jumandi, Cavernas de Ceremonia and Mondayacu are all situated along the main road to Baeza. Long distance buses leaving Tena Terminal, heading for Quito, pass these places. I’m not sure though they will take passengers for short distances.
In Tena the rain poured down in the morning so I didn’t go to the bus terminal until it had stopped, but of course it started again before I had reached the terminal (it was not very far from my hotel so I walked). I arrived at the terminal at 10 and the next bus for Quito was leaving at 10:30. While I waited I bought some snacks for the bus journey.
The ticket for Papallacta was $4 (August 2013) and the bus company was Flota Pelileo. It took 3.5 hours to Papallacta and most of the time the rain poured down and the windows of the bus were covered with condensation, so unfortunately I missed much of the beautiful views along the route. Outside Baeza I bought a fruit salad with cream from one of the vendors coming aboard to sell things. It was $1.
When the bus passed Papallacta it stopped by the highway, near the village. There was a pickup truck (taxi) standing there and I took it to Hostería Pampallacta Termales which is situated further up. The taxi was $1.
I took a taxi from El Jardin in Puyo where I had been staying to the bus terminal, and as all taxis within the city it was $1 (August 2013). At the bus terminal there didnt seem to be to many buses to Tena during the day, but it was 9.20 and outside Expressos Baños office I saw that they had a bus at 9.30. However their office was closed. Another bus company had a bus at 9.45 so I asked there and was told that the buses dont arrive to the terminal but I must go to the highway and a bus stop for Tena. I took another taxi there and it just took a few minutes.
At 9.30 the bus for Tena arrived. It didnt leave immediately but stayed by the road for 15 minutes. There was no problem to get a seat and as usual I brought my big backpack into the bus too. The ticket was $2.50 and already at 11.30 the bus arrived in Tena. The bus terminal in Tena is quite centrally located so from there I walked to the hotel.