Napo Province & Misahualli Touristic Protected Area
A SANCTUARY FOR NATURE AND ECOLOGY
Misahualli is located in eastern Ecuador, in the province of Napo. It is part of the Amazon Basin, which drains much of South America. It is mostly defined by the course of Napo and Misahualli Rivers.
Napo is very privileged in terms of its geographical location. It starts at the edge of the eastern part of the Andes mountain range and descends into an Amazonian plain. Its western border boasts mountains such as Cerro Hermoso, part of the Llanganates mountain range, as well as Sincholagua, Cotopaxi, Antisana and Saraurco. On this border line, there are also hundreds of lagoons, most of which are unknown to the majority of the population. In the third mountain range's stretch, there is the Sumaco volcano, Pan de Azúcar, Cerro Negro and Reventador. Macaws fly in a south-easterly direction due to the location of three watering holes.
To the north, there is the mouth of the River Quijos. The Quijos and its tributaries begin in the Eastern Andes. They flow north to finally turn east where the Quijos, along with the River Coca, flow into the River Napo in the heart of the city of Puerto Francisco de Orellana (Coca). Here we find the cantons of Quijos and El Chaco. Baeza was the first city that the Spanish founded in the province of Napo. The sacred Quijos valley is an area rich in flora and fauna, archaeological remains, thermal springs, lagoons, waterfalls and fast-flowing rivers which are ideal for adventure sports like kayaking and rafting.
In the centre, there is the mouth of the River Misahualli. The River Misahualli and its tributaries begin in the third mountain range. They form a beautiful valley right where the cities of Tena and Misahualli are found. The Misahualli flows into the River Napo in the heart of the city of Misahualli.
To the south, there is the mouth of the River Napo. The River Napo joins with the rivers Jatunyaku and Anzu which begin in the eastern mountain range. The Anzu forms the valley of the canton Arosemena Tola.
- North: Sucumbios and Orellana
- South: Tungurahua and Pastaza
- East: Orellana
- West: Pichincha, Cotopaxi and Tungurahua
The province's geographical diversity- its hills and mountains, its valleys and lagoons- allow for its incredible diversity. It is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.
- Altitude: 526 metres above sea level
- Total surface area: 12,518.78km²
- Population: 79,139
- Climate: hot and humid
- Temperature: between 9ºC and 28ºC
Napo has three natural water basins which form clearly-defined valleys where most of the population live.
- The Quijos valley
- The Misahuallí valley
- The Napo valley
Napo is home of thousands of species of trees and plants. Researchers estimate that there are as many as 100 different species of tree per acre in Amazon. by way comparison, it´s uncommon to find more than 20 species of tree per acre in North America. The varieties of plants include trees, bromeliads, vines, orchids, ferns and much, much more
As the most biodiverse place on Earth, Napo is home to thousands of species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects. Some of the more spectacular ones include:
- Spectacled bear
- Much, much more
Why you should visit the Amazing Province of Napo
HERE ARE SOME REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT THE AMAZING PROVINCE OF NAPO
TENA: Due to its unique characteristics, Tena is considered one of the most biodiverse places in Ecuador's Amazon region and is therefore one of the most visited places. It is popular amongst foreigners and Ecuadorians who come looking for adventure or a place to relax in. It is also loved by nature experts who come to investigate different species that inhabit the area.
Tena, the provincial capital, is a departure point for many tours to discover the magic that surrounds the Amazon region with its birdsongs, its rainbow-coloured butterflies, its deep caves, its ancestral myths and legends, its fast-flowing rivers, the murmur of its waterfalls and the beauty of its forests.
The local people, cuisine, culture, customs and traditions are part of the richness that Tena offers. Community tourism is a popular option, allowing people to live with indigenous communities who maintain their culture by living in harmony with nature.
The adventure sports like rafting, kayaking and tubing along the River Napo are some of the emblems of the province which allow tourists to delight in the natural surroundings. Bird-watching trips are also popular for those who want to experience the Amazon region in all its splendour. Only three hours from Quito and three and half hours from Ambato, Tena is a place where dreams come true.
Located in the heart of the Amazon region in the province of Napo, 186 km from Quito- Ecuador's capital city.
Misahualli Port - Monkeys River Beach
Welcome to Misahuallí - Ecuador
A popular tourist stop is the small town of Misahualli Ecuador (pronounced Mees-a-why-YEE). Located at the junction of the Misahuallí and Napo rivers this sleepy, end of the road town has beautiful jungle scenery and a large sandy beach.
The most popular inhabitants of Misahualli are the monkeys. They wander along the beach and into the park at the center of town.
Be careful the monkeys are very mischievous and will steal anything they can get their hands on. Water bottles and food are their favorite things to snatch. Watch you cameras and sunglasses too.
For many years MISAHUALLÍ, a bustling little port at the confluence of the ríos Misahuallí and Napo, was the principle passageway to Coca with travelers going by canoe. The place in the Oriente in which to organize a special jungle tour to Yasuni National Park, Tiputini River, Cuyabeno or Limoncocha Biological Reserve.
Napo before the Spanish Conquest
The first inhabitants of the province of Napo came from the Amazon River area. Smaller groups must have come from the highland region. The different groups all strongly identified themselves with the jungle which inspired their cultures, religion, customs and traditions. The most important group was the Quijos who inhabited the present-day cantons of Quijos, Chaco, Tena and Archidona. People would later confuse the Quijos with an ethnicity that lived between the foothills of the Andes and the coast and so the Quijos got called Yumbos. Later on in history, the missionaries called them Alamas and today they are known as Quichuas. The Incas reached Quijos territory and inter-tribal relations were consolidated with marital unions, for example Hacho, a cacique (leader) from Latacunga, was brother-in-law to one of the Quijos caciques. The highland people's demand for gold, cinnamon, furs and exotic animals made the Amazon region famous for its richness. Soon the highland people began to make war with the Amazon dwellers and peaceful relations turned to conquest.
The Spanish “Discovery” of the Amazon Region
In 1539, Captain Gonzalo Díaz de Pineda organised the first expedition to Quijos. He reached the valley of Cosanga. The indigenous killed many Spanish soldiers. Discouraged, he returned to Quito. In 1541, Gonzalo Pizarro took a large expedition of men to the Amazon region. He camped in the village of Moti. There he meet with Francisco de Orellana who had arrived from Guayaquil. The Spanish were by now sick and barefoot and food supplies were low. They built a brig. Sick soldiers were sent into Orellana's care. They had to navigate down the River Coca to find food and then return to the encampment. Orellana and his men travelled for several days. On 12th February 1542 they became the first Spaniards to travel down the longest river in the world: the Amazon. Quito was given the rights to this unique “discovery”.
The indigenous people called this river the Conoris, the Portuguese called it Marañón, but the name Amazon stuck. It was invented by Friar Gaspar de Carvajal in homage to the warrior women who inhabited the area. Pizarro and the men who had stayed along the banks of the River Coca returned to Quito. They arrived sick, half naked and emancipated. History would remember them as “cinnamon hunters” or “caneleros”. This is how Napo and the Amazon region came to be part of Quito's territory.
The Creation of Napo Province
On 25th November 1920, the provinces of Napo-Pastaza and Santiago Zamora were created. Josephine priests in 1922 and nuns in 1924 arrived to work in Napo and infused its hundreds of citizens with vitality. The missionaries preached the gospel and also focused on health and education. In 1928 the missionaries established themselves in Dos Ríos, near Tena. They aimed to free indigenous people from alcoholism and debt systems. In 1959, Napo and Pastaza divided into separate provinces. In 1969 the political divisions of Napo were restructured and the cantons of Putumayo and Orellana were created as well as other parishes. The canton of Napo changed its name to Tena. The road from Baeza to Lago Agrio was built. Petrol exploitation encouraged some citizens of Napo to move to one of the many villages and communities that were created to support oil exploits. These small places then grew into towns and cities, forcing the creation of the province of Sucumbíos (which had been part of the province of Napo) in 1989. Finally, in 1998, the province of Orellana (which had also been part of Napo) was created.
- Kichwas from Napo
- Quichas from Chimborazo
- White and mixed-race (Ecuadorians born in Napo)
- White and mixed-race (Ecuadorians born in other provinces)
- Sumaco National: to the northeast
- Antisana Ecological Reserve : to the west
- Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve: to the north
- Llanganates National Park: The park entrance is found in the south of the province. One entrance point is from the community of Talag.
- The Galeras mountain range is found in Napo at the source of the River Pusuno just
where Napo borders the canton of Loreto in the province of Orellana.
- The village of Misahuallí is a remote port at the juncture of the Napo and Misahuallí rivers and is a popular starting point for canoe trips and jungle tours. Visit the center of town and see monkeys climbing trees and roaming the plazas.
- Papallacta: Located between Quito and Baeza, it is famous for its thermal springs where visitors can relax in the refreshing waters. The Papallacta Lake provides Quito and the surrounding area with drinking water and also with trout.
- San Rafael Waterfall: This is one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern area of Ecuador. The waterfall, part of the River Quijos, is 160 metres high. The entrance to the waterfall is found right at the border between Napo and Sucumbíos on the main road between Quito and Nueva Loja (Lago Agrio). It takes about half an hour to walk from the road to the waterfall and you can see rich flora along the way.
- Napo has the highest population of all the Amazon provinces. The two most important ethnic groups are Kichwa and Huaorani.
- Pathways through cloud forests, routes through thousand-year-old caves and visits to thermal springs are some of the activities that can be enjoyed in the north of the province.
- Ecuador's great Amazonian plain starts precisely where the mighty Andes end and also where the Antisana mountain lies, a place of eternal snows and great biodiversity.
From Quito to Tena, the main road is the Troncal Amazónica which goes through the towns of Papallacta, Baeza and Archidona. The other road is from Quito to Tena is via Ambato, Baños and Puyo. There are also tarmacked roads between the city and rural parishes, making it possible to visit local tourist attractions.
Driving Distances from Tena to other Cities
AMBATO 180 MACHACHI 215
AZOGUES 412 MACHALA 523
BABAHOYO 377 MANTA 584
BAHIA 586 OTAVALO 251
BAÑOS 140 PLAYAS 525
CUENCA 449 PORTOVIEJO 549
DAULE 475 PUYO 80
ESMERALDAS 497 QUEVEDO 404
GUAYAQUIL 428 QUININDE 397
GUARANDA 186 QUITO 186
HUAQUILLAS 585 RIOBAMBA 195
IBARRA 271 RUMICHACA 400
LATACUNGA 227 SALINAS 591
LOJA 598 STO. DOMINGO 312
MACARA 788 TULCAN 396
MACAS 208 ZAMORA 534