Quito, Ecuador is a colourful and historic city and seeing it all at once from high up is quite a sight. It’s amazing how expansive it is, and one place takes full advantage of the views to cater to tourists’ love of unique attractions, fab photo ops and souvenir shops. Not only does the TelefériQo have all these features, but there’s also an amusement park at the bottom. VulQano Park is full of thrill rides, family-friendly rides, shops, food carts and restaurants.
The TelefériQo is a gondola lift that takes you straight up Pichincha Volcano to Cruz Loma, a lookout that gives you a view from inside through floor- to-ceiling windows. The most exhilarating part of this is the ride up, but even if you aren’t afraid of heights, the ride is a bit disconcerting. You’re in a tiny cable car traveling over 2,200 linear meters. Your eight-minute ride feels like it’s at a nearly 90-degree angle. It is the highest aerial tram in the Americas, so if you do feel a little freaked out on your ride, you aren’t alone.
You pass over a beautiful green landscape, with a few precarious mountainside houses and grazing animals. We were amazed by how far we could see and how big the city really was. The gondolas claim to fit up to six people, but I think the only way that may be possible is if two of them are small children. I found that four could fit comfortably and two would have plenty of room to stretch out or snuggle up.
Your ticket for the TelefériQo is roundtrip and allows you to spend as much time at Cruz Loma as you like. It can get quite cold at the top, so it’s advisable to bring a sweater and wear long pants. If you love to hike, there are trails you can take from the lookout point to reach Rucu Pichincha and on a clear day you can see the peaks of 13 volcanoes around Quito.
Once at the top, you can sip coffee at the café, have a meal at one of the restaurants, shop for items made or grown in Ecuador, buy film for your camera – or in the case you forgot your camera altogether, a disposable one – or even sit at the oxygen bar.
This is the perfect place to take photos and buy souvenirs of your trip. You can purchase Ecuadorian coffee and chocolates, which can be difficult to find in Quito’s shops. Because coffee and cacao beans are very expensive to process, much of those grown in Ecuador are exported to be processed in other countries. The products that are made in the country can be spendy, but are very good and worth the money.
If you’re lucky, once you reach the lookout at Cruz Loma the day will be clear. We went up when it was clear and the clouds rolled in almost as soon as we emerged from our gondola. Make sure to go early in the day for the best views and then you can make the most of your time to also enjoy VolQano Park, where you can drive go karts, ride a roller coaster or see a concert.
Even an unlimited ride pass for the day is fairly inexpensive, which means you could easily spend a whole day here and still stay on a budget. Driving around Quito can be quite a pain and taking a taxi to the TelefériQo is a great idea that will keep you from getting lost and frustrated and also is really affordable.
The TelefériQo is Quito’s most popular attraction and one of the tallest aerial trams in the world. Would you be brave enough to ride to the top and back?