People talk a lot about Laguna Azul in Tena, Ecuador. I thought I'd never been there until I finally realized that they were referring to the same lagoons that we used to go to all the time as kids.
Back then it was called Amorongachi or Amoroncachi in Kichwa. I guess it needed a more "universal" name and the Blue Lagoon was chosen. Although, the lagoons aren't blue....
The "laguna" is actually a series of natural pools formed by a tributary of the Jatunyacu River. The water is really cold and clear, and the jungle surrounding them is beautiful.
Back when we used to go in the late 90s there was just a little path at the end of the road that led to the lagoons. Now there are huts built around the main pool and a gate at the entrance where you pay to get in. The price is $3 for foreigners and $2 for Ecuadorian citizens and residents. (2015)
Thankfully the lagoons themselves haven't been tampered with. The water is still beautiful and if you ignore the mini-community up the hill it still feels like you are in the middle of nowhere.
One benefit of the new set up -besides the toilets- is they replaced the wet log you used to have to cross to get to the upper lagoons with a nice little bridge. The bridge is lot less scary than trying to balance across the log!
The main lagoon is deep and has a great spot for those who like to jump in. The water is crystal clear. It flows over a waterfall and into the Jatunyacu River below. This waterfall is dangerous. It is not a water-slide! There is a rope across the lagoon to grab onto if you start floating in the wrong direction, but the current isn't really strong (it isn't recommended that you swim if it's raining since the water could rise suddenly).
Down behind the main lagoons, in the Jatunyacu River, you can see large volcanic boulders from the last big eruption of the Cotopaxi volcano, whose snow-cap feeds the river. There is lots of black sandy mud that some spa would probably love to have. :)
The upper lagoons aren't as deep and don't have any waterfalls to worry about. These lagoons are great if you have small children with you. I didn't go up to the upper lagoons this time. There is (was) one with a natural water-slide that is fun to go down and it makes for a great photo op.
If you get the chance to see the lagoons, go! It's a beautiful spot.
The only way to get to the Laguna Azul is in a taxi or driving yourself. The lagoons are located about a half an hour outside of Tena beyond the towns of Pano and Talag. There are buses to these towns, but the lagoons are still quite a ways farther out.
Many tour companies offer jungle tours that include this spot and others in the area. For a reputable tour operator in Tena please click here.