When I first saw pictures of the “swing off the end of the world” in Ecuador, I was equal parts thrilled and terrified. The rope swing is attached to a treehouse and propels riders over the treetops of Banos, Ecuador, in close proximity to an active volcano, Mt. Tungurahua.
While in reality the drop is only 100 feet or so, the pictures makes it look far worse. Perhaps that’s why National Geographic recognized a shot taken at Casa del Arbol a few years ago, bringing international attention to a previously unknown place.
The result? Many competitors have popped up in an attempt to snag a piece of the treehouse fame, such as Viaje del Condor, a similar tree swing set up not too far from Casa del Arbol. The swings are large and serve the same purpose, but there’s only one Casa del Arbol (without a website or phone number), so make sure you look for it upon arrival.
Normally, I’m not much of a daredevil, but I figured a swing was child’s play. I had been practicing for this moment since elementary school–sit on the swing, hold on, legs out for momentum. How hard could it be?
Don’t underestimate the strain this ride will take on your body. The swing sits at an elevation of 2,660 meters (8,727 feet) so it’s not uncommon for visitors to feel lightheaded. I also made the mistake of letting myself be swung in circles, but more on that later.
Here’s everything you need to know to visit the swing at the end of the world!
Getting to the swing at the end of the world
You can easily access the Swing off the Edge of the World from Banos, Ecuador. The best ways to get there from the main city are to drive or take a bus. Buses depart at 11am and 2pm daily and can take up to an hour each way. There are also supposed to be 6am and 4pm buses but the middle two are guaranteed. This is the cheapest option, at approximately $1/pp.
If you drive, it’s a short one way road up the mountain, with many curves and no real place to stop along the way. You can see the swing from the city on a clear day.
Another option is to take a taxi, which can run you around $20-$40 roundtrip.
Casa del Arbol
Casa de Arbol is the name of the complex mentioned by Nat Geo and photographed by Instagrammers around the world. It consists of three swings and a zipline. You want to take the first swing, closest to the entrance.
It’s $1 admission to enter, and about the same to tip the person who pushes you on the swing. Avoid going on the weekends as the lines can get lengthy. I went on a Monday morning and found the crowds very manageable.
There’s a seat belt on the rope swing so you can strap ourself in. The ramp does not move so it’s important to keep your legs straight the entire time. Despite the risky appearance, they take safety seriously here.
Facts about the swing off the edge of the world
The swing and the recent commercial market developing around it is relatively new, with the Nat Geo recognition occurring in 2014. Now, there are buses dedicated to go specifically to Casa de Arbol and an entire tourist market developing around the prospect of launching yourself into the Ecuadorian sky.
I have to be honest–I was queasy after my ride. I went rapelling down 6 waterfalls that morning and all the adventure finally caught up to me. I would still recommend the trip, just advise you to learn from my mistakes and take it easy when you do decide to go. I would also not advise being spun around when pushed.
There are restrooms and a small cafe on-site. There are also vendors on your way in and out of Casa de Arbol, selling food and souvenirs.
Know Before you Go
If you heed my advice and pace yourself, you ill have a great time. What you cannot control, however, is the weather. Ecuador is made up of many mountains, and each has their own micro-climate. Weather patterns vary and are unpredictable, but don’t let a little rain spoil your ride!
You can also venture up into the treehouse itself for more photo opportunities. Cell service can be spotty, making calling a taxi difficult in Banos in general, so if you’re taking a bus to Casa de Arbol, make sure not to miss your ride back.
Need a place to unwind after a long day of adventuring? Go for a dip at the thermal hot baths the city is named for, filled with minerals rumored to have healing properties.
Till next time, safe travels!
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