The equator is the imaginary line that separates the northern hemisphere from the southern hemisphere and crosses the center of the Earth at a latitude of exactly zero degrees. In Africa, the equator extends over 4,020 kilometres across seven countries in West, Central and East Africa just south of the Sahara Desert. Ironically, the list of African countries cut in half by the equator does not include Equatorial Guinea.
The African countries located on the equator are: São Tomé and Príncipe, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya and Somalia.
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Experiment with the equator line
In the past, it was possible for intrepid travelers to follow the equator on their journey through Africa. However, the itinerary is no longer secure, since several of the countries on the equatorial line are plagued by civil war, terrorism, paralyzing poverty and piracy. The imaginary line also crosses some of the most extreme environments on the planet such as the remote jungles of Congo, the haze soaked mountains of Uganda and the deep waters of Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria. However, if it is no longer recommended to go through the equator, going to see this imaginary line at least once is an essential African experience.
The position of the equator is related to that of the Earth’s axis of rotation, which moves slightly during the year. Therefore, the equator is not static: which means that the line drawn on the ground at some equatorial markers is not always fully accurate. But This is a technical detail, and these markers are always the closest you can get from the center of the Earth. Visit one of them and you can say that you ridden the equator with one foot in each hemisphere.
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Africa’s equatorial markers
Often, the African equator is marked without too much fanfare. Usually, a roadside sign is the only indication you will have of your location. It is therefore important to search in advance where the line is in order to be able to monitor it closely. In Kenya, there are signs announcing the equator in the rural towns of Nanyuki and Siriba, while similar signs exist on the Masala-Kampala road in Uganda and on the Libreville-Lambaréné road in Gabon.
One of the most beautiful African equatorial markers belongs to its second smallest country, São Tomé and Príncipe. The island nation celebrates its equatorial situation with a stone monument and a frieze of the world map located on the tiny island of Rolas. The imaginary line also crosses the Meru National Park in Kenya, and although there is no marker, there is some novelty in observing animals directly on the equator line. At the luxury Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, you can cross the equator simply by walking from your room to the restaurant.
Many travellers to Africa visiting various national parks in western Uganda make a stop at the equator as they head to or return from the impenetrable forest of Bwindi, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Queen’s National Park Elizabeth or Bunyonyi Lake. The equator is located in Kayabwe, in the district of Mpigi, about 72 kilometers from the city of Kampala, driving southwest of Kampala, you have the opportunity to see the equator sign on the road Kampala-Masaka about 420 kilometers from Kampala. It is also a place where you will find good restaurants and shops offering souvenirs.
If you are on the equator, take a moment to test some of the bizarre facts and theories related to the position on the line between the two hemispheres. The rotating force of the planet causes a bulge of the Earth’s surface at the equator, which means that you are further from the center of the Earth here than anywhere else on the planet. Gravity therefore exerts less traction on your body, so that the equator, you weigh about 0.5% less than at the poles.
Some also believe that the rotation of the Earth has an effect on the direction in which drained water flows, so a toilet flushes clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere. This phenomenon is known as the Coriolis effect and should dictate that at the equator water flows directly into the drain. Most scientists agree that due to a large number of external factors, this can not be proved with real accuracy, but it is always fun to check it byyourself.