The imaginary line which divides our planet in half is between our two poles, is approximately 40,075km long (some 78% of which is ocean), passes through 11 countries and is represented as 0°0’N. Facts galore. But is visiting the equator fun? Yes… yes it is!
Ecuador is one of the 11 countries which straddles the equator meaning you can stand at 0° latitude. Understandably they have made quite an attraction of this fact and if you’re from somewhere that isn’t on the equator, I expect that you’ll enjoy a day trip out to here to straddle the equator! How often do you get the chance, eh?
Just on the outskirts of Quito they have built a monument to commemorate the fact that the city is on the equator and there is also a very interesting museum. It turns out that the spot where they built the original monument is actually a couple of hundred meters off the actual equator’s position but the museum is right on it and some experiments inside the museum prove that fact. I won’t give the game away but trust me, you’ll enjoy the surprise!
You can easily take a local bus for about 45mins out to the equator and your hostel should be able to point you in the right direction for the bus. You’re looking for a bus which says Mitad del Mundo on the front and it should cost around 40cents.
I also had some equator based fun when in the Galapagos. You can read some more about my Galapagos Island Adventures here and here. Whilst on my boat cruise around the Galapagos Islands our route took us not once, not twice, but thrice across the equator.
There is a proud naval tradition of line-crossing ceremonies when a sailor makes his first crossing of the equator on board a ship. A sailor who has yet to cross the equator is known as a Slimy Pollywog while a more senior and experienced sailor is a Trusty Shellback. To become a Shellback you must be initiated…
There are various ways of “initiating” a sailor into the ways of the sea and for getting the approval of Neptune (God of the sea) and his court (which includes his first assistant Davy Jones). It’s all very Pirates of the Caribbean – I kept imagining Cap’n Jack Sparrow staggering into view complaining about the lack of rum. Some sailors must complete tasks of hardship, some must be thrown overboard as the equator is crossed and I’m sure there are all sorts of other shenanigans that go on. For us, I’m pretty sure our initiation involved Tequila…
If you’re in two minds about whether to bother specifically visiting the equator or whether to celebrate the crossing of the equator in any way, I’d say do it! Crowding around the dials and watching as they counted down to 0°0’N and then started climbing again as we passed over into the Northern hemisphere was something I’ll never forget. Plus, you don’t want to be a Pollywog all your life!