Take the bus from Tena to Lago Agrio in 2022


on: 2022-04-05

by: Oliver Williams

Quick Facts

  • Duration

    07 hours 30 minutes

  • Rating

  • Experience

    jungle reserves, community tourism, wildlife

  • Best Price

    USD $ 17

  • Maximum comfort or class


  • Departures

    14 departures daily

  • Recommended by

    2445 backpackers

Price may fluctuate due to seasonal demand and other market-driven and regulatory events.

Buses from Tena to Lago Agrio

A wild parrot in the Cuyabeno reserve, Ecuador.

Perhaps like many, you started your Ecuador adventure by coming to Baños, then went to Tena and Misahuallí, a small town to the east of Tena where monkeys stroll around as casually as the people do.

Now you're ready to level up and head on over to the Magnificat of all Ecuadorean jungle destinations, Lago Agrio!  There you'll be stationed as a base camp for excursions into the famed Cuyabeno and Yasuní rainforest reserves to see one wildlife spectacle after another.

Buses from Tena

Buses between Tena and Lago Agrio will be the same no matter where you go in the cloud forest and jungle east of the Ecuadorean Andes range.  They are standard issue, older models, but clean and suited for the mostly flat highways that meander through the Amazon.  Journeys through this region by bus are calm and less prone to drama experienced on the mountain and coastal buses.  They make sure the air conditioning works, and unlike the mountains, they rarely stop to let food or product vendors on.  You will still have to put up with either a Steven Segal film that has been replayed so many times the DVD is wearing thin, or a set of the driver's favorite salsa tunes.  Whatever the annoyance, you'll get used to it if you haven't already.  Or, invest in headphones, they come in handy!

How long is the bus ride from Tena to Lago Agrio?

Ah, that is the tricky part, because Lago Agrio is on the far end of a "loop trail", and so the buses sometimes choose to go up the west side of the loop and then back down the east side through Coca.  Other buses go up the east side to get to Coca first and then come back around the west side.  Either way, the average is about 7 and a half hours.

What is the cost of traveling by bus from Tena to Lago Agrio?

Bus tickets from Tena to Lago Agrio typically cost $20 USD. However, AndesTransit presently has seats available for as little as $17 USD. There are various factors that influence the price:

When you go

It is customary practice in the travel industry that weekends and holidays are more expensive. This is also true for bus travel in Ecuador, where tickets for this bus route are normally less expensive Monday through Thursday before the weekends begin and on Saturdays (in the middle of the weekend when everyone is staying put), but slightly more expensive on Fridays and Sundays. This is important to remember if you're on a tight budget and attempting to save a few dollars.

When you book

The longer ahead you buy your tickets, the less you'll have to spend because you'll be protected from future price increases.

What are the bus schedules from Tena to Lago Agrio?

Simply click the Reserve Now button above to see the whole, up-to-date timetable for this bus route; there is no obligation to buy.

Even though Latin American bus systems have greatly improved in the previous ten years, there are a few points to keep in mind.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that schedules can change at any time, and not all online booking platforms contain up-to-date schedules. Even the websites of some of the bus operators are hopelessly out-of-date.

But this is precisely why AndesTransit was founded. We can assure you that you get accurate bus schedules before you buy your ticket because we work directly with Latin America's greatest and most reputable bus companies.

This is something we've been doing for a long time, and we take satisfaction in constantly searching the bus operator's networks for updates and gossip, as well as from other travelers on the ground.

I'm looking for a place to buy bus tickets from Tena to Lago Agrio.

You have two alternatives when it comes to this:


Without a question, this is the choice we recommend. Booking online is safe and secure, and it assures that you receive the best available seat at the best possible price while saving you time and stress at the bus station.

If you want to travel from Tena to Lago Agrio, you can book a ticket with AndesTransit and rest certain that you'll obtain a guaranteed seat at the best price.


To be honest, we don't think this is a good idea. Sure, it's possible, but it's far from certain, especially if all of the other tickets have already been purchased by others who arrived before you or did so online!

Travel is extremely popular in Ecuador these days, and the route from Tena to Lago Agrio is getting more renowned every day. so why spend hours in a scorching bus terminal that is continuously monotonous when you could save all of that time by doing it online in less than five minutes?

What do I pass by on the way to Lago Agrio?

There are lots of worthy temptations to get off the bus and do some cloud forest hiking along the way if you don't mind losing your reserved seat. 

Just north of Tena on the other side of Archidona, you can go on a fun and safe spelunking in the Jumandy Caves park.  A lot of infrastructure has been built around the caves to allow for families to stay on the premises with alternative things to do for their kids, like swimming and amusement rides.  But the real draw is the easy experience of going inside the caves, where you will get wet as you wade through cool water, so bring a change of clothes.  

Outside Archidona in nearby Cotundo are some beautiful lodges and waterfall walks where you can encounter all manner of fascinating flora, including the enamored "dragon's blood", a tree sap that is used in place of band-aids and is also ingested internally to heal several illnesses.

If you want to imagine yourself in the legendary adventure of Francisco Orellana and Pizarro to discover the source of the Amazon, hike the famous stone Guacamoyas Trail in Cosanga where they began.  Obviously, you won't make it to the Amazon, but they didn't know that!

Not much farther up the road is Ecuador's tallest waterfall, the San Rafael Falls near Salado, as well as Ecuador's most elusive and cranky volcano, El Reventador.  The trek to the falls is easy, but the rangers have a pattern of closing it indiscriminately if there have been local landslides. You may have heard about this waterfall in 2020 when a huge sinkhole collapsed on top just ahead of it going over the escarpment, creating a new lake where there was none, and a new set of smaller falls going down to the sides of the main fall.  So, the falls are not as thunderous as they used to be, but still, a beautiful and very easy hike to get there.  

In stark contrast, the trek to Reventador is only for the most physically fit of hikers.  You will still be hiking at altitude, even though it's a humid tropical forest, and there are no services along the way.  Reventador is also an active volcano and has been known for violent explosions every few years, so proceed with much caution and please, go with a local guide.

Great white water river rafting trips await you in the Quijos river region, and the best spot to scout for a local outfitter is Baeza (which is also the connecting point if you want to go back to Quito).

Passing buses might pick you up from any of these spots if they have a seat available. Even if they don't have a seat, and just have standing room, they still might be fine to pick you up in order to earn a couple more bucks.  However, you can't re-use your ticket from Tena.  You would have to pay cash.

The bus may take the alternative path by going through Loreto to Coca and then to Lago Agrio. If this is the case, then the only part of the above side excursions that would be possible are the Jumandy Caves and Cotundo.

What to do in Lago Agrio

A wild parrot in the Cuyabeno reserve, Ecuador.

In Lago Agrio, which is mostly the entrance point for hiking into the huge Amazonian Cuyabeno Reserve, try to get there on a Sunday for the street market in which you can see the colorfully dressed Cofán people. Any day of the week, you should make a point to promenade with the butterflies around the beautiful Laguna Jambeli just outside the town.

#1. Cuyabeno and Yasuní

These two epic rainforest reserves complement each other well.  Yasuní is the more famous because it is an apex area, meaning in a relatively small area of rainforest, it contains everything you can see in the rest of the vast expanse of Amazon and is the crossroads for all kinds of migratory bird routes.  It is extremely fragile and also the hardest to reach.  Entry points to Yasuní can be either Lago Agrio or Coca, but both require a guided tour, or get permission from the Catholic University in Quito to stay at the science station there.  Either way, a venture to Yasuní is no small or cheap undertaking, so plan far ahead.

The more accessible reserve is Cuyabeno, which is best reached from Lago Agrio.  Many outfitters base themselves in town and take you on guided boat tours into the reserve to see pink dolphins, anaconda, a variety of primates, and of course, birds -- lots of birds!

#2. Cofan Community Encounter

Many tours or expedition outfits are increasingly offering community-based tourism or "encounters" with indigenous communities to experience how they live and practice their traditions in their ancestral homeland.  Lago Agrio offers this kind of encounter with the Cofan community.  The Cofanes are a disappearing tribe, numbering now less than 1,000, and they live in a remote rainforest area called Cocaya that does require a commitment of the traveler to spend about a week in order to have time enough to get there and back.  Visits with the Cofanes include observing how they fish and hunt, their medicinal plants, and jewelry.  Some of it they will offer for sale.

#3. Border Crossing

A still small but increasing number of travelers who are thrill-seekers are electing to cross into Colombia over the footbridge at La Punta, just north of Lago Agrio.  This is a completely legal crossing point, but buses or any kind of vehicle are not allowed.  Instead, backpackers get their exit stamp in Lago Agrio and then get a local bus or a private shuttle up to La Punta, cross the bridge and stop in at the border officer checkpoint on the other side of the bridge.  From there, pickups stand ready to take travelers up to the small town of La Hormiga, and then there are local buses from La Hormiga to Mocoa.  Mocoa is a major town from which you can actually reserve tickets online to other major cities like Neiva or Bogota.  It sounds dangerous, but it is not if you do your best to blend in and not stick out.  Lots of people do this.  It is, however, bumpy and uncomfortable, and so you have to be mentally and physically ready for being transported through the muddy backroads of Colombia, at least until you get to Mocoa.


You can go even farther than Lago Agrio.  The end of Ecuador is a few more hours to the east in Puerto El Carmen de Putumayo.  But there are few services there and almost no tourism infrastructure, so your reason to go would most likely be just to say you did it, which is cool.  However, keep in mind the buses to Lago Agrio actually go in a loop, so returning to Tena will not necessarily go back in the direction you came.  Some will keep going in the same direction and just go around the loop past places you didn't see coming in.  Baeza is more or less where the two sides of the loop come together, and from Baeza, you go back south to Tena or west to Quito.

Route Map

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Does a bus go to Yasuní?
No, Yasuní is accessed by passenger boats that go down the Rio Napo on their way to Iquitos, Peru. And to get to these boats, you actually depart from Coca, south from Lago Agrio a couple hours. Once you get out of the boat, there are guides with off-road vehicles to take you where it is permissable by vehicle in Yasuní.
Are the roads safe to travel between Tena and Lago Agrio?
Yes, the roads are paved and mostly flat all the way. However, try not to travel in rainy season, like in April and in November, as there are frequent mudslides that block the roads and cause long traffic delays until the bulldozers can clear the mud aside.
Are there any private transportation options from Tena to Lago Agrio?
If you don't want to take the bus, you can hire a private vehicle on ecuadorbus.com/shuttles. This is a good idea if you want to be able to stop here and there to experience things on your way to Lago Agrio. Keep in mind it's about a six hour drive, so you should plan a private departure early in the morning if you want to stop for a hike or take a long lunch.
What are the ticket policies?
It depends on the carrier you choose, but their specific policies can be previewed during checkout or in the summaries printed on your ticket email. For a general overview, see the Ticket Policy page.

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