Altitude: 297 meters (974 ft)
Phone Code: 06
Lago Agrio (officially Nueva Loja) is seven hours east of Quito by bus or 30 minutes by plane. The town got its unofficial name from Sour Lake, Texas (the original headquarters of Texaco Corporation) which began using it as an outpost for oil exploration in the 1960s. After more than four decades, Lago is a far cry from the lethargic jungle community that Texaco commandeered. Now it's a grimy frontier city that has flattened all greenery for kilometers in every direction to accommodate the oil pipelines that crisscross the once virgin landscape.
Despite being an eyesore and harboring some sinister vibes, Lago Agrio serves as the best jumping off point for visiting the Cuyabeno Reserve, a spectacular 603,380-hectare protected area that boasts unparalleled wildlife viewing opportunities. Buses departing to the various lodges in and around the reserve depart from Hotel D'Mario.