This one is not for the faint of heart, those with a pre-existing heart condition, or those who have vertigo of any kind. In the deepest wilderness of Ecuador, there is a seismic monitoring station in a tree known as Casa Del Arbol. Its function is to observe Mt Tungurahua, a nearby active volcano. Whilst this quaint little station-come-treehouse is a great photo opportunity in itself, it’s not what brings the majority of the visitors out here.
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No one knows who put it up; however, attached to a skinny little branch and extending out over the drop below is possibly one of the world's most retro-tech, death-defying joy rides. The Swing at the End of the World is precisely that, a rope swing. Perhaps it was erected by a particularly whimsical seismologist, or maybe an industrious scientist realized they could make money by charging admission to every wanderlust-fueled tourist to came hiking up the steep gravel track. Whatever the reasoning, this swing lets you fly out over the Ecuadorian landscape to enjoy a truly dizzying view.
There are no safety net, no harness, no rules. This is the old world, where you do something because it feels good and damn the consequences. The swing can be easily found by those with the inclination to trek from the nearby town of Banos. You can get a bus or a taxi to the top of the mountain if you want to cheat yourself out of the hike, but the trip is fairly straightforward and even a novice could scale the trail in around 2 hours. Once you get to the top, you’re encouraged, or just straight up asked, for a $1 donation and, trust me, this is worth every cent. At the top, a few snacks and drinks are sold and you can explore both the treehouse and play on the swing and a crude little zipline to boot for as long as you like. The path back down is easy enough, simply get back in your cab or walk back the way you came, down to Banos. For those using their feet, you might also want to stop by the Mirador De La Virgen on your way down, it’s another incredibly rewarding experience.
While a lot of other websites are accentuating the fact that the swing lie many, many miles above sea level and claiming the swing extends over a sheer drop, this isn’t necessarily true. It is definitely an exhilarating and exciting ride, and the hill under the swing does slope along with it and you would definitely get yourself a nice set of cuts and scrapes if you were to come loose in any way. Nevertheless, we couldn’t quite label it death-defying.
It’s a pilgrimage well worth the effort for all those with a young soul, and the views alone make it a must-see location even if you don’t fancy a go on The Swing at the End of the World itself.