In addition to the monument, visitors on Ecuador tours will find museums, dining establishments, souvenir shops, and most importantly, a post office to document their arrival at this unique location. Live music and dance are sometimes performed here. From Quito, Southern Explorations offers two day-trip Ecuador tour extensions to the Mitad del Mundo monument, one that goes directly there and another that also includes a two-hour tour of the capital city.
Visitors on Ecuador tours may encounter more equator monuments during their travels. In 1979, the Mitad del Mundo monument was re-built and enlarged. The original monument was moved a few miles west of San Antonio Pichincha to the village of Calacali, and a little closer to the equator.
Like many European “discoveries” in the new world, it appears that the location of the equator had already been pinpointed by the indigenous Tsachila who inhabited Ecuador’s coast before the French expedition arrived. Near the town of Cayambe, northeast of Quito, is an archeological site on Mt. Catequilla located exactly on the equator. It has been called “Quitsato,” meaning center of the world in the Tsachila language. To learn more about this archeological research, see www.quitsato.org. Other equator monuments are located in Cayambe and on the Ecuador mainland coast.
The Galapagos Islands cruises with itineraries traveling to the northern reaches of Isla Isabela on the western side of the archipelago also cross the equator. Travelers on these Ecuador tours are usually engrossed in looking for the whale species and Galapagos penguins that inhabit these waters instead of appreciating that they are passing the imaginary line of the equator.
Should you find yourself in the colonial city of Cuenca during your travel to Ecuador, you will see one of the measuring points that the French expedition used to find the equator, the bell tower of the Catedral Vieja in the city’s central plaza, Parque Calderon. One of Southern Explorations’ Ecuador tours visits Cuenca, the nine-day Ecuador Highlights trip.
If your interest in the equator extends beyond travel to Ecuador, you may wish to read the 2001 book, Latitude Zero, Tales of the Equator, by Gianni Guadalupi and Antony Shugaar, that tells the history and lore of the line that has long fascinated the world. Between destinations, if you have time to kill at Quito’s new international airport, visit the museum that has been incorporated into the facility, chronicling the geodesic missions to Ecuador in search of the equator.