I always thought I wasn’t one of those ‘touristy’ people until I got a chance to experience the Equator line on Lake Victoria. The trip was a result of me just being polite to popular tour guide Jonathan Baguma. The conversation went like this:
Jona: Are you aware the Pope is coming?
Me: How can I miss that? I live near Namugongo.
Jona: Would you like to be part of the welcome crowd?
Me: (Giving Jona my “you must be nuts look”) why on earth would I want to do that?
Jona: Do you know you can see the equator line on Lake Victoria?
And there he had me! I knew that this was an experience I couldn’t miss for anything in the world and it was magical. There is something very exciting about being at the exact center of the world on the second largest freshwater lake on earth. The experience was powerfully divine for me. While standing at the line that divides the earth into two hemispheres, all I could see was nothing else but the water which seemed to have become one with the sky.
In that moment I knew that there must be a powerful being somewhere who has created all these magnificent things and gave me the same power since He chose to create me in His own image. The realization was so profound that I felt my perceptions turn round, I could feel possibilities and an awakening of dreams that had died in me. There was this intense new awareness of my power, so compelling that for about five seconds I considered walking on water but I knew I would freak everyone out and probably cause fatalities so I didn’t.
How to get there
You can access the equator through Aero Beach Entebbe. There are boats willing to take you for around Shs 45,000 depending on your bargaining power really. Since it is directly across the airport, there is tight security and you won’t be allowed to stay at that island for more than 15 minutes.
The ride takes about 25 minutes and it should be smooth unless you hit a rock and your boat is turned upside down which is why you must have a life jacket. After my experience I advise that you travel light; leave laptops and handbags behind. While at Aero Beach get a chance to tour the gigantic planes that give this beach its name. The planes are relics of the 1979 war; they had brought reinforcement armor for then president Iddi Amin but were just too late. According to Colonel Cornelius Lorika Kodet owner of Aero beach, the planes were immobilized and all armor taken into custody as soon as they landed. They had been rusting away until he decided to acquire them in order to give his vast beach an edge.
About the Equator
It is the longest straight line on the planet – 40,000 km (25,000 mile) long, a line steeped in seafaring mythology, scientific intrigue and cartographic significance. It divides the northern and southern hemispheres. Daylight hours don’t really change; temperatures remain pretty high with little distinction between seasons. This constantly high heat forms a regular and violently spectacular thunderstorm belt around the globe, but there is worse. Nearly all of the equator falls over oceans, which when heated become the birthing grounds of typhoons and hurricanes.
The Earth’s true equator is precisely perpendicular to its rotating axis – the problem is that this axis actually moves a little throughout the year, only by about 10-20 meters but it does result in the equator moving back and forth by a similar amount each year.
Most maps of the planet are centered upon the equatorial line. Varying map projections battle valiantly against this norm but it now just looks correct to see the middle of planet presented on the middle of your map. Looking at a map of the world, the huge amount of water the line traverses is clear – so much in fact that only about 20% of the equator actually crosses land.
Only 20% of population lives below the equator
There are more countries in northern hemisphere than southern hemisphere which gives the area north of the euqator a head start in human count. But what really gives the north and edge over south are the highly populated countries like china, India, and USA which all lie in northern hemisphere. Only 2 out of top ten populated countries (Brazil and Indonesia) lie in south, and not the whole country is below the line.
You weigh less
The Earth bulges outward at the Equator because of the planet’s rotation and its tendency to stay in a straight line while moving. This creates a gravitational field that is uneven, with more pull on the poles than in the middle. It is due to this bulge that a person standing at the Equator is further from the majority of Earth’s mass than a person standing at either of the pole hence the weight difference of only 0.5%.
Other countries that straddle the hemispheres are; Brazil, Colombia, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Gabon, Indonesia, Kenya, Kiribati, Maldives, Sao Tome and Somalia.