If you’ve never been to one of the 13 countries that cross the equator (Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Sao Tome & Principe, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Maldives, Indonesia and Kiribati) you should really make a point to visit El Mitad del Mundo.
Not that there is anything inherently special about the location. It’s an exceptionally touristy rest stop, but it’s pretty nice as far as rest stops go.
Let’s get a few things out of the way early on.
- See the big yellow line painted through the middle of the park? Well, it’s not actually on the equator. There are several excuses for this. “Due to the Earth’s wobble, the equator actually varies by about five miles.” or… “The site was constructed in 1936. Give them a break.” Whatever the reason is, it’s not a big deal. The site is still pretty cool, and you get the point. If you’re really concerned about bisecting the world, whip out your cell phone, pull up the GPS and walk north till you hit the big Zero Zero Zero.
- Of course this puts a damper on many of the “mystical” properties you might “experience” on the big yellow line… Watching an egg balance on end, or flushing a toilet are things you can enjoy in the comfort and safety of your own home. Your location on the planet really doesn’t matter.
- There are a couple different options for visiting the park. $3 is the basic entry fee, and it allows you to walk around, check out the tower, and take all the cliché photos you want. There is also a $7 “Full Pass” option that gets you into all of the museums, and exhibits. Depending on what your plans are, the $3 choice will probably be enough. While the art galleries, etc. are nice, it just wasn’t what we came there to see. (Keep in mind that parking is $2 as well)
But, don’t let any of this dissuade you. The park is 100% worth a visit and probably the last time you’ll see sunshine on your way to the Mindo cloudforest.
The most prominent feature of the park is the central monument. Photographs do not convey just how tall it is, and it is also much older than it appears. Be sure to take the elevator to the top, and plan on spending a little time walking down the stairs as you return to earth. There are at least five levels of displays and interactive exhibits as you descend.
If you are inclined to spend a little time at the halfway mark, you certainly could. There are tons of shops, restaurants, and performances.
A similar option is the Intiñan Museum just around the corner. We did not visit this spot, but some reviews make it sound like it may have been a more entertaining option.
Oh yeah… Anyone know why there are snipers on top of the UNASUR building adjacent to the park?