On this page:Introduction | History | Climate | Transportation | What to Do |


An infamously dangerous and unattractive city, Lago Agrio’s main tourist draw is its proximity to Cuyabeno Reserve and Limoncocha Biological Reserve. Most visitors only spend a few hours in Lago Agrio on their way from Quito to jungle excursions they have booked in advance. In most cases, tour agencies and operators will arrange bus transportation to Lago Agrio and then meet guests at a specific place in Lago Agrio within an hour or two. Agencies know the city is dangerous, and plan trips accordingly. If your trip involves a small layover in Lago Agrio, don’t worry. Your trip organizer will arrange your stopover so that it is as safe and efficient as possible. It is best to avoid spending unnecessary time in Lago Agrio or wandering outside of designated drop-off and pick-up areas. Lago Agrio is the capital of Sucumbíos Province.


Nueva Loja (new Loja) was sparsely settled by colonizers who came directly from the southern Ecuadorian province of Loja. When they arrived in the Amazon, they named the site after the colony they had just established. In the 1960s, Nueva Loja mushroomed in size and importance, as a base camp for the US oil company Texaco. According to some sources, the city was then called Source Lake, but was later changed to Lago Agrio (sour lake) because foreign oil workers suffered from long work days and strenuous working conditions. Others claim the name Lago Agrio comes from Sour Lake, Texas, which is the US headquarters of Texaco. The city is now known as both Nueva Loja and Lago Agrio. The area has experienced dramatic environmental degradation in the following decades. Despite – or perhaps because of – Lago Agrio’s industrial importance today, its ecology has been terribly mismanaged, mostly at the hands of foreign oil companies.


Like most of Ecuador’s Amazon basin, Lago Agrio has a warm, rainy climate. The heaviest rainfall comes during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer (June through August). Temperatures range from about 23º C to 35 º C. See our packing list for advice about preparing adequately for your trip to Ecuador


Buses leave Quito’s Terminal Terrestre Cumandá for Lago Agrio about every 20 minutes. The trip from Quito is about 7 hours and the cost should be about $8. Buses also go between Lago Agrio and Tena, Coca, and Baeza several times a day. You can also fly to Lago Agrio from Quito on TAME or Aerogal.

What to Do

There are few sites of interest in Lago Agrio itself. As mentioned above, most visitors just stop through here for as short a time as possible, before continuing on to organized jungle tours in Cuyabeno Reserve and Limoncocha Biological Reserve.


Related EE.com Pages
Amazon Guide
Amazon Hotels
Tena City Guide
Amazon National Parks
Amazon Peoples
Amazon Rainforest Tours
Climate Map
Lago Agrio section by V!VA Travel Guides
Domestic Flights