In the Swing of Things

The city of Banos de Agua Santa is located in central Ecuador and, because of its proximity to the Amazon River basin, is a major tourist center in the region. It is home to dozens of waterfalls and is named for the hydro-thermal mineral water springs throughout the area, underscoring its value as an attraction. Further, the city is said to be a great place to go if you’re into adventure travel; according to one questionably-designed website, the city features rafting, mountain biking, canyoning, and a half-dozen other outdoorsy activities. It also has some pretty great scenery, not just because of its proximity to the Amazon, but also because it overlooks Tungurahua, an active volcano.

It is also home to the Swing at the End of the World.



The swing, pictured above (here’s a larger version of the image) is attached to a treehouse appropriately named “El Casa de Arbol” — literally, “The Treehouse” — which is roughly 2,500 feet above sea level. When on the swing and facing outward, you can see Tungurahua to your right (here’s a clear picture of it) and hopefully it’s not spewing too much ash and therefore blocking your view of its peak. You glide over what calls “a steep slope,” but one certainly steep enough to result in death if you were to fall off the swing. If you don’t fall — and few if any do — the views of the valley are said to be breathtaking.

For those daring enough, the swing allows you to appear to ascending from the heavens — from the right angle, at least — as seen below (larger version here). And it’s clear that there are no safety wire or nets, either.

Whether anyone has met their doom has gone unreported, and the swing is currently open to tourists regardless.

Bonus Fact: In Montreal (in the spring, at least), there is a set of 21 swings which play music as people swing on them. The swings are a public art exhibition, one which requires interaction from passersby. As seen in this video, the swings are designed to play different melodies based on how many people are swinging and how in sync they are.

Double bonus!: In 2002, a U.S. inventor was successfully granted a patent for a “method of swinging on a swing.” The method? The abstract describes it as a process “in which a user positioned on a standard swing suspended by two chains from a substantially horizontal tree branch induces side to side motion by pulling alternately on one chain and then the other.” Ridiculous? Entirely — but don’t worry to much about it if you’re at the playground. The patent was filed by (and granted to) a five year-old boy who was learning what his father, a patent attorney, did for a living. (The process took two years, too; by the time the patent was granted, the five year-old was seven.) A year after the patent was granted, the government cancelled its claims, rendering the grant toothless.

From the ArchivesDormant and Tired: The volcano that wasn’t.

Related: A book of exceptional treehouses.

Images via Rinaldo W. on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license. Originals here and here.