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Introducing Lago Agrio

The first oil workers nicknamed Lago Agrio ‘bitter lake, ’ after Sour Lake, Texas, the former home of Texaco, which pioneered local drilling. The city’s official name is Nueva Loja, although no one will bother to call it that. Locals settle for ‘Lago.’ Whatever you call it, this unkempt oil town is not high on tourists’ lists. It takes a certain breed to navigate the platform sandal shops and street grills serving guanta (agouti). Seedy bars, prostitutes and fugitives share real estate with high-spending oil workers while hard-working locals keep their heads down and mind their own business (as visitors should too).

The provincial capital of Sucumbíos, Lago’s real attraction is as the entry point to the spectacular and singular Cuyabeno reserve. For most travelers, Lago is simply an overnight stop on the way to the reserve.