Nueva Loja (Lago Agrio), Ecuador, has a population of about 58,000 (as of 2010). It is a relatively new town, established by the Texaco oil company as a company base camp in the 1960s and officially founded in 1971.
The town is a bustling large town with nothing historic or interesting architecture. But it has a few nice parks. Due to the oil fields being exploited by Texaco/Chevron, the rainforest outside of town has been heavily damaged and polluted. For some years now, there has been a lot of work on the rainforest environment to restore it. That is an ongoing task.
Lago Agrio has a tropical climate. The average daytime high of 29° C (85° F), and the nightly average low of 22° C (71° F). The city's elevation is about 297 meters (974 feet). The average yearly rainfall amounts to 3477 mm (137 inches) of rain. The humidity is very high, typically between 85% - 92%.
So, my impressions: Nueva Loja, Lago Agrio, a pleasant place to visit. The town is supported by the oil industry, and agriculture, livestock, commerce, and tourism. The park Parque Turístico Nueva Loja is particularly nice. It's an eco-park with raised trails through the jungle. There are several types of monkeys in the trees, a few aviary pens for different types of parrots, and a viewing area for various types of Amazon snakes. There are ponds, one of which has caiman and turtles. Another nice park is nearby, Parque Recreativo Nueva Loja has lanes for bikes, for running, and another for walking. There's a rollerskating oval, exercise areas, and the expected ice cream shops. Both of those parks are very nice and modern and even have free, clean, and modern public bathrooms, something almost unheard of in South America. About five kilometers from the city center is another park, Parque Ecológico y Recreativo Lago Agrio Perla, which has a lake of about 3000 meters by 2000 meters and 5 meters deep (9842 ft x 6561 ft x 16 ft). The park is 110 hectares (272 acres) in total area. In the park, you can enjoy canoeing, canopy, cycling, and hiking on ecological trails, and there are children's games and sports fields. One last note: while the temperature is not particularly high, with the high humidity, this area is very sticky, humid, sweaty, and almost unbearable for many people who are not used to it.
My goal is to find a new place to live. So to reach that goal, I am traveling most of South America, visiting the countries of Ecuador, Perú, Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay, passing through a bit of Brazil, and finally visiting Uruguay. I have a list of towns, about 70 that meet these qualifications: Cities with average day temperatures of 22-28° C (72-83° F) and night temps of 14° C (57° F) and higher; and a population between 28,000-300,000. I analyzed climate and population data of around 700 towns in the countries mentioned above and then pulled out the ones that meet the previously mentioned criteria, which leaves about 70. My preference leans towards towns of less than 100,000 people. And, now that I have visited more than 130 towns/cities (not including more than 70 in Colombia), I've decided I will want an inland town. I love the beach and walking in the warm water, but getting sunburned is just too easy, even on a cloudy day. At least here in Ecuador. I've also decided that any town with more than 100,000 population will be too big. I've decided that any small town/city (less than around 80,000 population) that meets the temp specifications and has a supermarket and ATM is one worth considering to live in.
So, to reach my goal I will visit those towns and discover which one calls out to me - "Chip, Chip, make your new home here, this is your new home town". That hasn't happened yet, but the towns listed below are very close to giving me that feeling. At any rate, I have visited very few tourist attractions and archeological sites, etc., those will have to wait for another trip through South America.
My Top 10 list has these towns on it:
- Puyo, Ecuador
- Moyobamba, Peru
- Encarnación, Paraguay
- Formosa, Argentina
- Roldanillo, Colombia
During my travels in Ecuador, I visited 36 towns/cities. In Perú, I visited 38 towns/cities; in Chile, only five towns; and in Argentina, I visited 16 towns. In Uruguay, I visited five towns, and in Brazil, three. And in Paraguay, I have visited 26 cities. That's 129 towns/cities outside of 77 I visited in Colombia while living there for 9 1/2 years.
Next up: Mocoa, Colombia.