When I was a kid, I liked globes. I had a nice globe, and I enjoyed watching the oceans, the continents, and the countries on them. I also watched the vertical lines joining the Poles, and the horizontal lines circling the whole Earth. And I noticed that the line in the middle is the longest one, and somehow more special than the other lines. Not only that, but I wanted to see and touch it in the real world. This is the Equator, and I would like to visit and explore it again now. Do you want to explore it too? Then, let’s go!
Where is the Equator of the Earth
Let’s open the map of the Earth and look at the Equator. This line is the longest latitude of the planet. It starts from the largest Gulf of Guinea, crosses Africa in the middle, through Gabon, Congo, DR Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, and proceeds through the Indian Ocean, near the Maldives. Then, it crosses through the islands of Indonesia and crosses the whole Pacific, passing by Nauru and several other small islands. Finally, it passes by Galapagos, crosses South America through Ecuador, Colombia, and Brazil, and crosses the Atlantic to its starting point.
Some interesting facts about the Equator
The Equator divides our Earth into Northern and Southern Hemispheres. But that’s not all. This is the line with the highest speed of rotation on our planet (just imagine a carousel- its edge is the fastest place when it rotates). Now, have you seen meteorological maps, showing tropical cyclones from space? Have you noticed that the cyclons in the Southern Hemisphere have opposite to those in the North Hemisphere direction of rotating? Ok, now take a look at the video below:
Do you see it? This is called Coriolis effect. Well- it is too weak at the Equator, so its actually in a question whether it is natural or a “scam”. So, go to Latitude 0 and check yourself!. One thing is sure- the Coriolis effect is real, anyway, and you can try it at any point on the Equator. Another thing that people say is that balancing on the Equator is more difficult. I personally haven’t noticed it. Again- choose a certain point on it and try yourself! No matter what you will experience, the Equator remains a challenging place to visit.
But of course, not all the points on Latitude 0 are easily accessible. A large section of the Equator is on water. If you join a cruise with a route crossing the Equator, that’s good, but you would not see anything special unless the captain of the liner doesn’t announce it. On land, again, most of the Equator passes through wild rainforests, mountains, some zones of unrest, or just poorly arranged areas without good roads. However, there are still some easier to reach points on the Latitude 0, often marked with monuments or other signs. Let’s identify them, but first, let’s follow our wanderlust dream to make a journey around the Earth on the Equator.
Around the Earth on the Equator
Have you heard about Mike Horn? He is one of the most famous explorers of modern times. And he did it. He made a journey around the Earth, following Latitude 0. Yes, he didn’t follow it exactly at 0°00’00”, but still very close to it, enough close to considering a journey on the Equator. He made the journey starting from the coast of Gabon, Africa and traveled westward until he back to the same point on the coast of Gabon, Africa. Then he wrote a book about his trip. Currently, I can’t find an English version, but only in French, so if you can read it, you can enjoy it here:
Of course, not everybody can be Mike Horn, but at least everybody can visit some of the places through which he has passed. As I mentioned above, most of them are marked by signs or monuments, so you can not only satisfy your wanderlust and your geography passion, but you can also make good photos of the Equator.
Popular points on the Equator to visit
So, let’s walk virtually on the Equator, but let’s do it from west to east, in the opposite direction of Mike Horn’s journey, starting from Longitude 0, in the Atlantic Ocean. Still in the ocean, we will „touch” the first country- Sao Tome and Principe.
Rolas Island, Sao Tome and Principe
It is a small island, south of the main Sao Tome Island. The island is a „tropical paradise” with a small resort, called Pestana Equador- the only trace of human presence on this tiny piece of land. And there you can find the place with the marker, where the Latitude 0 passes- with a map of the world around it. Then, the Equator proceeds eastward to the continent of Africa.
Equator West Africa, Gabon
Following the Equator, the first thing you would see on the African coast is long empty beaches with several lodges and bungalows at them. One of these is „Equator West Africa”. The place is just a beautiful spot somewhere „at the end of the world”, and if you find it, you can take a photo at its Latitude 0 (btw, this is the place from where the explorer Mike Horn started his journey, but in opposite direction).
West of the ocean coast, the Equator passes through difficult to access forests, swamps, and bush, with almost no traces of human presence except several remote villages. But there are also several roads through this jungle, and you will see road signs like „Vous Franchissez L’Equateaur”, showing the exact point of Latitude 0, like the one north of Lambarene Town.
It is a small town on the jungle roads in the western part of Congo. You can reach it by local transport or private car from the capital Brazzaville. But don’t expect anything touristy. The town is known as an epicenter of several Ebola outbreaks before, anyway, it doesn’t mean that it is always a dangerous place. So, once you arrive there, just walk south of its last houses and you will touch the Equator of the Earth there.
This is a larger city in Congo, more easily accessible than Etoumbi. It has even its domestic airport. And the Equator there is easy to be found- there is a small monument showing its exact line.
Mbandaka, DR Congo
Mbandaka is a relatively large city in DR Congo, located on the coast of the Congo River. If this country was a peaceful place, Mbandaka would probably be a popular tourist destination (and we hope one day it would be changed). But now it is a relatively poor place, highly affected by decades of civil war and unrest. Anyway, if you are more adventurous and reach this city, you can walk only several kilometers (miles) south of the city, you can reach the Earth’s Latitude 0.
From there, the Equator passes the vast spaces of DR Congo eastward, through jungles, swamps, and bush, with some remote scattered villages, almost without any roads to travel. Unrest, instability, and civil war make this area really difficult to reach. Finally, Latitude 0 reaches the border with Uganda.
It is a small border town with a well-known hospital, working against Ebola, HIV, and many other tropical diseases. There is again nothing touristy there, but if you want to reach it, you have to do it in a highly adventurous style. And there you can touch the Equator again, on the road south of the hospital.
This is the most popular touristy point on the Equator in Africa. And this is the place where the water experiment that you see above was made, and if you go there, you can see it with your own eyes. There is a good-looking monument, proper for photos. Kayabwe is easily accessible from Kampala by bus or private car, and it is located only an hour and a half from the capital of Uganda.
From here the Equator passes through the northern parts of Lake Victoria, as well as through several of its islands. Then it leaves the lake and Uganda and proceeds in Kenya.
It is a small university town in Kenya, located 25 km from Kisumu- one of the main educational centers in the country. And the Equator passes just through the northern end of the town. You can go there and you can see the local Equator monument at the roadside- an orange ball presenting the Earth.
Mogotio is a small roadside village, located not far from Nakuru, in a relatively wild place. And it has its Equator sign too, although not as attractive as those in Kayabwe and Maseno. It is still a nice place and the wildlife of Kenya is not far from there.
It is another Equator village, known for its splendid Catholic shrine. And it has the same Equator road sign as the one in Mogotio. No wonder, this place is mainly visited by pilgrims, but it is another reason to reach and explore it.
Nanyuki is a nice town in Kenya, known as the town with the cleanest water in the country. It lies at the Equator, and the Latitude 0 passes just at its southern suburb. Its sign is again not so attractive, but as everywhere on this line, it is worth visiting by explorers.
Hagadera Refugee Camp, Kenya
Here the Equator reaches the eastern border between Kenya and Somalia. A refugee camp like Hagadera is not the nicest place to visit, and it is definitely not for tourists, but only for people who would like to do something for these refugees. And while they visit the camp, they can step on the Latitude 0, passing through it.
From there, the Equator proceeds through the southernmost corner of Somalia, through a land which is very difficult and relatively dangerous to travel, until it reaches the eastern coast of Africa- the Indian Ocean.
The Indian Ocean section of the Equator is long, and the line passes only several km near the Vaadhoo and Fuvahmulah atolls of the Maldives, then proceeds through the vast spaces of the ocean until finally reaches Tanahmasa Island of Indonesia, and after a little more water- to Pantai Sasak Pasaman Barat Beach in Sumatra Island.
Pantai Sasak Pasaman Barat, Indonesia
Here the Equator „lands” into a nice local resort with great beaches. The „tropical paradise” type of resort is so attractive for locals and foreigners, that the last thing they would pay attention to is the Equator passing on the northern side of the beach. But again, for geography lovers and explorers, it is a great place, not only because of Latitude 0 but because it is combined with a great place to relax and play on the beach. You can easily reach this place from Bukittingi, the nearest big city in the area, for around 3 hours’ drive by private car, by taxi or by local types of transportation. From there, the Equator proceeds into the mountains of Sumatra Island.
Tuanku Imam Bonjol Museum, Indonesia
Not far from the coastline, the Equator runs through a museum, dedicated to one of the Indonesian heroes who lived in the 17-18th centuries. And Latitude 0 hasn’t remained unnoticed, so the government made a gate sign on the road with a globe, marking the exact line. The place is interesting although a bit neglected, and at the same time with a lot of entrance fees on every step, which makes most of the tourists quite disappointed. Anyway, for geography and history lovers, it is worth to visit. It is located only one hour from Bukittingi.
The Equator crosses more mountains and jungles and passes through another small town- Kampar. There the line is marked by another monument, this time looking like a pillar with a globe on it. This place, called Tugu Khatulitiswa is much less touristy and quiet, providing more relaxing opportunities along with the geography lust. It is not far from another big city- Pekanbaru, and you can easily reach it by private car, taxi or local transportation.
Pangkalan Lesung, Indonesia
Yes, the Indonesians are pride with their Equator. Not far from Kampar, the Latitude 0 passes through another road and village, and they didn’t miss to mark it with another monument- Pangkalan Lesung. It is again like a pillar (but with more modern design) and a small golden globe on its top. Again, the place is reachable from Pekanbaru by local transport or car.
From here, the Equator passes through the last jungles, rivers, and swamps of Sumatra and leaves the island. Before entering the open seas where the South China Sea mixes with the Java Sea, it runs through the small Riau Islands. Finally, on the other side of the sea, it reaches Kalimantan (Borneo) Island and its first sign there- in Pontianak City.
Here the Equator passes through the northern parts of the city. There is the Khatulistiwa (Equatorial) Park, with one of the largest Equatorial monuments on the Earth. It is a popular tourist landmark, with a dome and a high metal pillar on it, made by the rules of modern art. To reach it, you just have to travel to Pontianak, then after enduring the heavy traffic, you can arrive in the park and enjoy this landmark. Again, it is worth for everybody.
The Equator proceeds into the interior of Kalimantan. On its way, you can’t see any big monument or another landmark. But if you have GPS, look into the map and talk with the locals, you can travel on Lintas Kalimantan Poros Tengah Rd which curves on both sides of Latitude 0 near the city of Sekadau, to the next city of Sintak. It is a rural area, a bit far from the tourist streams. Worth to explore with a motorcycle.
Kalimantan Timur, Indonesia
From there, the Equator leaves the rural area and proceeds into wilder jungles and mountains. There are not too many human traces in the middle of the island. Finally, the line reaches the eastern side of Kalimantan. But before leaves it, it passes through another marked point- Kalimantan Timur Monument. It is located near a village on Ahmad Yani Rd, and the monument is one of the largest landmarks in Indonesia- a beautiful white hexagonal tower with houses joined at its every side. It is much less touristy than the one in Pontianak, and the nearest large city in the area is Samarinda, from where you can easily reach the monument by private car or local transport.
The coastline is near, and the Equator leaves Kalimantan Island, crosses the next body of water, and reaches the northern narrow strip of Sulawesi Island („touching” a small peninsula before that). There are two roads on both coastlines of the Sulawesi strip. You can’t see anything on the western road, except a house whose inhabitants sleep on both hemispheres of the Earth. But the point on the eastern road is well-marked by another sign- Sulawesi Equator Monument.
Sulawesi Equator Monument, Indonesia
This place is easily reachable from Palu. It is a rural seaside area with villages, lined like a chain on the road. Its monument is smaller and not so extravagant like those in Kalimantan. The nearby coastline is not attractive too- no beaches, but only mangrove forests. But again, the geography lovers should stop here for some photos, on their way around Sulawesi.
From here, the Equator proceeds into the sea, gradually approaching the Pacific Ocean. There are not too many pieces of land on its way. The next islands are Kajoa and Halmahera islands.
Kajoa and Halmahera islands, Indonesia
These islands are remote and far from the tourist streams. There were riots and religious unrest in recent years, but now the islands are safe to visit. However, they are not so developed, so don’t expect anything luxurious- these places are mainly for adventurous explorers. Maybe for this reason the Equator is not marked anywhere, but you have to find it again by GPS, a map, and eventually the directions of the locals.
The next small pieces of land are Gebe and Ju islands- wild and remote places without almost any tourist activity, with exception of a small lodge on Ju Island, and without any marks of the Equator passing there. But the stunning tropical paradise of the place is worth visiting.
Kawe and Equator islands in Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Finally, Equator reaches the last piece of land in Indonesia. This is Kawe Island, one of the islands of Raja Ampat Archipelago. Raja Ampat is a well-known diving paradise with breathtaking tropical landscapes above and under the water. There are many resorts in the area, but most of them are located in the Southern Hemisphere of the Earth. So, the Equator crosses a wild part of Kawe Island, and a small limestone islet called Equator Island. It is a very adventurous place and you would need a guide to take you there.
From there, the Equator passes very close to Waigeo Island without „touching” it, then proceeds through the endless spaces of the Pacific Ocean, without passing through any land until the Galapagos Islands before South America. It only goes near several small and remote islands- Nauru, through Gilbert Archipelago (Kuria, Aranuka, Binoinano, and Nonouti islands), Baker Island, and Jarvis Island. Finally, after thousands of kilometers (miles), the Latitude 0 lands on Isabela Island of Galapagos.
Isabela Island of Galapagos, Ecuador
Like an ancient explorer, the Equator reaches a wildland. Isabela is a volcanic island and two of its volcanoes, located on the northern part of the island stay exactly on the Equator’s way. One of them- Volcan Wolf is the highest point of the island. Isabela Island is well-arranged for tourists, but this part of it is relatively difficult to access and explore. There are no Equator signs, so this place is for adventurous explorers. Then the Latitude 0 leaves Isabela and the Galapagos, crosses more of the Pacific until the coast of Ecuador, South America.
This is the first place that the Equator meets in South America. The coast is rocky and the area is hilly, apart from the tourist streams. There is no monument, but the only thing that marks the Equator passing here is a road sign on Troncal del Pacifico Rd. A little further, there is another road curving around the Equator, but there isn’t any sign showing the presence of this special line.
La Concordia, Ecuador
It is a small town, not far from Coaque, located exactly on the Equator. In fact, Latitude 0 passes through its southern parts, near the town center. But again, there isn’t any sign of it, obviously, it is not a tourist place, and probably only some locals can show you the exact line if they know. Or again, follow your GPS and map. La Concordia is easily reachable from Quito by bus, for around 4-5 hours.
Los Bancos Canton, Ecuador
Again, it is another rural area with local roads curving around the Equator, without any sign pointing to it. It is not a touristy place but it is nice for traveling by motorcycle. If you want to do it, still look at your GPS to find the places where the Equator crosses the roads.
San Antonio de Pichincha, Ecuador
Finally, here you can see the first monument of the Equator, and the biggest one in Ecuador, like an important national landmark of the country. It is called Middle of the World (Ciudad Mitad del Mundo) and is a quite tall and big construction of solid stone, with a globe on its top. This is a more touristy place (btw, some say that the exact line of Latitude 0 there is fake, but as I see on Google Map, it still looks quite correct). There is an Ethnographic Museum near the monument, which makes it worth visiting. Located only a little more than one hour north of Quito, it is easily accessible by bus, taxi, or private car.
There are more roads northeast of Quito, crossing the Equator without signs of it, but the road leading to Cayambe is worth to visit. There is not only a small globe-shaped sign beside the road, but a pillar raised exactly on the Latitude 0 (because the globe-shaped sign is around 100 south of it). When the Sun is exactly over the pillar, you can’t see any shadow around it, and it is its role.
From here, the Equator leaves the areas near the capital of Ecuador and enters much wilder areas. It crosses its highest point in the Andes and descends into the vast Amazonian plain.
In the Ecuadorian part of Amazonia, only three roads cross the Equator. But there are no signs of Latitude 0 here. The area is not touristy, although some travelers go there for adventures in the jungle. So, to identify the Equator here, again you need your GPS, map, and the guidance of the locals. Soon after it, Latitude 0 leaves the country and enters Colombia.
The Equator in Colombia
The section of the Equator in the territory of Colombia is relatively short and runs almost entirely through thick rainforest. It is a difficult to access area and can be a bit dangerous. Not because nature- it is beautiful and adventurous, but because of some human activities, mainly north of the Equator. There are some guerilla activities, especially near the border with Ecuador, in Putumayo Province. But south of the Equator is much safer because there is a significant military presence near the borders of the country.
There are no signs of the Equator here, so if you get lost in the endless jungle, look at your GPS and your map. You can meet many locals who are native Americans of the jungle- tribes who have little or no contact with the outside world. So, the challenge is worth it. After that, the Latitude 0 enters its last country- Brazil.
Here is the main part of the Amazonian rainforest- an endless green sea of trees, almost impenetrable. When the Equator enters Brazil, there is nothing on its way, but only jungle, jungle, and again jungle, until the local road from Balaio to the village of Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira. And where the Latitude 0 meets this road, there is a small sign, showing the exact location of the line. This place is difficult to reach. It is a local indigenous area with several tribes living in the jungle. The easiest way is to fly to Sao Gabriel, then by taxi or private car on the road you can reach the point.
From here, the Equator proceeds through the endless green sea of Amazonia, and can be reached only by the local tribes, adventurous explorers (again, only by GPS and maps), and probably some people with criminal intentions. The line runs a long way until its next sign in the Roraima State of Brazil, on BR174 Highway.
Equator Line BR174, Roraima, Brazil
Here the Latitude 0 suddenly goes out of the jungle and the swamps and meets traces of human civilization, then a road- BR174 Highway. And here it faces its strangest sign- a stone with a pipe, and the words „EQUADOR” on it. It is beside a road stop and two buildings in the hot and humid area. Fortunately, this point is not very difficult to reach. From Manaus, the capital of Amazonas State, you can travel by bus to Rorainopolis, and ask the driver to drop you at the Equator point, after around 5 hours of travel.
Then, the Equator proceeds its way through the jungle for more than 1000 km, to its final point on the continent- Macapa.
Macapa is a city on the western end of the Amazon River Delta. The rainforest disappears (unfortunately, long before the city in recent years) and is replaced by rural areas with some industrial spots. There are several roads crossings the Equator outside of the city but without any signs on them. However, since the Latitude 0 crosses the city, you can find Av. Mario Fortunato Barriga- a street going from west to east exactly on the line. Walk on its left side, and you would walk on the Equator.
After the end of the street, the Latitude 0 crosses a hospital, where the sick people and doctors lie or walk between the two hemispheres on the Earth. Right next to it, the line crosses the southern part of a football stadium (called “Stadium Zero”), where the two football teams, one belonging to the North Hemisphere, one to the South Hemisphere play their game.
Then, there is a monument of the Equator. This is the highest Equator monument in Brazil. The only problem is that it is not built exactly on the line, but some 30 m north of it. Anyway, it is still a landmark. Further, the Latitude 0 proceeds through the houses of the city until the Amazon Delta waters.
Amazon Delta, Brazil
These are the last pieces of land on the Equator. They a bit difficult to reach, covered by swamps, low jungles, and bush, and are visited mainly by fishermen, local workers, or boatmen. No signs of the Latitude 0 here, but you can still explore it in an adventurous way. It crosses several islands, north of the main Marajo Island, then leaves the last piece of land and proceeds through the endless water space of the Atlantic Ocean, until it backs to its starting point.
The best time to visit the Equator
If we talk about seasons- there is only one season almost on the whole Latitude 0. It is a hot and humid season, with regular rains throughout the day. Sometimes the rains can be heavier, but sometimes there can be no rain, but it doesn’t follow any seasonal cycle. There is only one relatively dry area, and it is in Somalia.
However, there is something more important here. There are two days in the year which are the best times to visit the Equator- on March 20th and September 22nd the days of the Equinox. On these days, and only then, the Sun stands exactly above your head, so there are no shadows around you and all other things.
And of course, everywhere around the Equator, there are many other places of interest- rainforests, stunning tropical beaches, native cultures, history, and entertainment, so you can combine your geographical trip with many other adventures and experience, at the same time tasting the explorer’s passion.
Take a look at some travel and adventure books about the Equator:
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