Everyone’s seen those amazing images – the swing that looks like you’ll fall off the end of the world. Instagram and social media shots have converted a humble tree house swing into the most famous swing in the world! Everyone wants to know where it is, and how they can swing in it, and the best news is that it’s really easy to visit. So, practise your swinging technique & bring on your inner daredevil, we’re going to ride the swing at the end of the world!
Read on for everything you need to know about the swing at the end of the world. Where is it? How did it all start? Plus all practicalities you need to know to plan your trip.
Baños de Agua Santa is a small town tucked in a valley between towering Andean peaks in Ecuador, South America. In one direction the main road leads down into the Amazon basin, the other way takes you higher into the Andes. The landscape here is lush – green vegetation shrouds everything, and waterfalls cascade all around. On a clear day visitors can catch a glimpse of fiery Tungurahua volcano – one of the country’s most active volcanoes over the past two decades.
It is here, in the pristine setting of the hills above Baños Ecuador, that you can ride the swing at the end of the world … if you dare!
A decade ago, high above Baños, there once was a humble tree house with a wooden swing.
The story of who built the swing is as interesting as it is unexpected. It all began with an explosive volcanic eruption from Tungurahua Volcano in 1999. The town of Baños was evacuated for several months to keep her 18 thousand inhabitants safe from harm. Lava continued to flow but no major eruption was forthcoming. So despite the possible danger, the town folk of Baños slowly returned to their daily lives.
But for one man, Carlos Sanchez Carrasco, this was not ok. A former military veteran and fireman, Carlos felt responsible for the protection of the town and his friends and family who lived there. So, he decided to set-up an early warning system to alert Baños of any future eruptions.
Fortunately, Carlos knew the perfect place to set up his own volcano monitoring station. In the hills above Baños Ecuador, there was an open field with a great view of Tunguragua’s explosive summit. So he constructed a tree house where he could stay, and for fun dropped a couple of ropes and hooked up a plank of wood. The swing at the end of the world was born!
The site was known simply as La Casa del Arbol (the tree house), and over the years only rarely received visitors. This all changed on one fateful day in 2014, when a Solvenian tourist brought instant fame to the swing. A photo of his swing ride against a backdrop of the smoking volcano won an National Geographic award. The simple swing that Carlos had built to pass the time was now famous right across the world.
So now to the important part … you want to know how you can swing at the end of the world, right? Just keep reading for all of the practicalities to plan your visit.
Opening Hours: 06:30 – 19:00.
Cost of entry: $1 per person (at time of writing).
Altitude: 2,600m above sea level.
The quickest & easiest way to get to La Casa de Arbol is by private car or taxi. Taxis charge aprox $7-8 for the ½ hour journey up a steep and winding mountain road. Parking is available at the site.
Due to high demand a bus route is also in operation. Check local schedules in town – at time of writing there are 4 or 5 daily departures costing $2-3 round trip. Look for the blue buses labelled Runtun or Casa del árbol.
The swing is open all year round, but has become extremely popular with local and foreign tourists alike. To avoid crowds and queues it’s best to visit the swing in mid-week, and early in the morning. To enjoy the best views wait for a clear day with blue skies.
On site amenities include: kids play area and ziplines, restaurant, bathrooms.
Don’t rush your visit, take a picnic up with you to enjoy the views whilst relaxing. You could also visit Luna Volcan spa on your way home (it’s along the same road) – they have affordable, natural spa treatments. On the same site you’ll also find Café del Cielo, for lunch of coffee with unparalelled views over Baños town below.
You may have heard the swing at the end of the world also referred to as the death swing, a name which certainly does not inspire confidence. In truth though visitors can rest easy. There have not been any deaths recorded here, and the original rustic swing has been upgraded to ensure safety standards are met.
There is now a concrete runway to launch yourself from, and the rope system has been tested by Ecuador’s military. The ropes are climbing grade, with a secondary slack rope system just in case. Optional safety helmets are also provided.
In truth, the swing is not as scarey as you might imagine, but if you suffer from vertigo then it may not be for you.
The success of the original swing has led to lots of copycat swings popping up all around Baños. To visit the original swing be sure to head to Casa del Arbol. The original is unmistakable for it’s wooden tree house and authentic, rustic feel.
The alternatives such as Vuelo del Condor (condor flight) are larger, more modern structures, suited to the more adrenelin inclined amongst us.
Personally, I think there’s no beating the original swing at the end of the world. The views are more picturesque, the experience more authentic, and the story behind the origin of the swing is engaging in itself.
Carlos is alive and well, although perhaps rather bewildered by the global popularity of his treehouse and swing. Today his family help run the site, so ask around if you wish to meet them in person.
Amazingly Carlos still has his collection of volcanic ash from every Tungurahua eruption since 1999. He has also kept detailed logs for 22 years of volcanic activity, complete with personal anotations and photos.
So when you do visit the swing at the end of the world, spare a thought for the dedication and bravery of this remarkable man. He had the vision and selflessness to protect the people of Baños, in spite of the risks to his own life in the event of an eruption. It is heart-warming to see his valiant efforts indirectly rewarded today, providing a sustainable income for his family, and attracting more tourists to visit his home town.
Baños is one of the most popular weekend getaways for locals, and for good reason. Not only is the town surrounded by stunning nature of green hills, volcanoes, rivers and waterfalls, it’s also a mecca for adventure activities and spa resorts.
Daredevils can try anything from rafting, canyoning, hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, bridge jumping and more. While spa resorts pamper and smooth away city stress with an array of massage and beauty treatments. This versatile, little town also has natural hot springs to soak in, and international dining and lively social life to enjoy. To top it all off check out the town’s church made out of lava rocks, housing the statue of a virgin renowned for performing miracles. I think it’s fair to say that Baños has something to keep everyone happy.
For a more detailed list of activities, check out Koser Khaliq’s first hand account of how to spend a fun weekend in Baños.
We also recommend Happy Gringo’s 3 day Highlights of Baños tour, including all of the best sites and activities on offer, including the swing at the end of the world.
In conclusion, the swing at the end of the world is a must-see in Baños Ecuador. The views up there are breath-taking, akin to looking out into infinity towards a towering active volcano. The photo opportunities are truly endless, and never fail to attract likes on social media. So, if you’re visiting Ecuador and looking for something different, the swing at the end of the world will take your breath away!