A great way to see Quito is from above. The TelefériQo (a combination of teleférico and Quito) runs up the foothills of Pichincha Volcano and offers a crazy view of Quito.
5 Fast Facts: Quito TelefériQo
- It is a gondola lift (also known as a cable car).
- Travels 2,237 linear meters in just 8 minutes
- Rises from 3,117 meters (10, 226 ft) to 3,945 meters (12,943) making it one of the highest aerial lifts in the world.
- Opened in July 2005 as a tourist attraction.
- From the top of the teleferico you can continue on to hike the volcano.
There seems to be some confusion about the altitude at the top. Some sources state 3,945 m while a sign at the top says it is 4,100 m.
Either way – it's high and cold. As you can see in the video below, the weather changes quickly. It went from sunny to complete cloud in just one minute.
Riding Quito's TelefériQo
5 Travel Tips for the Quito TelefériQo
- Bring a jacket (and maybe a scarf). It is cold and windy at the top.
- Go in the morning – preferably one that is clear. The views on a clear day are amazing.
- Be careful about physical exertion while at the top. If you haven't acclimated to Quito yet, you could be very short of breath. Some travelers get headaches at the top.
- Bring your cedula if you are an Ecuadorian resident and you'll pay the local rate. When we were there we paid $4.90 ea (instead of the $8.50 rate for foreigners).
- Drink lots of water.
At the top of the cable car you can get a snack, a souvenir and a rest. High elevations can be tiring even if you aren't exerting yourself.
At the visitor center (at the base of the teleferico) there is an amusement park known as Vulqano Park.
More reading: Here are the best things to do in Quito, Ecuador
Getting To (and From) El TelefériQo
It is easy to get a taxi to the site. They all know where it is and it is just a few dollars. You can ask your hotel to arrange transport or you can just grab one on the street.
To get back to our hotel we used the shuttle that went every hour. The site is a little isolated so there wasn't many taxis waiting around. If it isn't too late in the day, you could probably grab one that just dropped off other passengers.
It was a clear day so the view during the ride, and at the top was spectacular! We could see what looked liked the entire city and the surrounding mountains.
(You may also want to read about Parque La Carolina, Parque El Ejido, and Parque Vulqano (the fun park at the base of El TelefériQo) some great place to take the kids in Quito).
Best Way to See Quito: Ride El TelefériQo
El TelefériQo is very similar to a ski lift, with windows all around and benches to sit on. Each unit is fixed to its own specific spot on a very thick metal cord, so you kind of just hang there swaying gently and gliding smoothly to the top.
We felt safe inside, but because of the nature of the lift itself, still enjoyed the thrill of the height, and joking around about “what if . . .”
As we progressed up, up, up the mountain we enjoyed ever-expanding views of the city, and the surrounding countryside.
The ride took about 10 minutes.
Our daughter was got so excited! She just kept looking all around, pointing and talking about how beautiful everything was.
It was also neat to see the cows grazing peacefully as we went by, high above their heads. Drew (our daughter) didn't seem to think that cows should be up that high on the side of the mountain :).
The height at the top is about 4100 meters (13, 450 feet) and because of that it was cold and dizzying. There is a building with some small gift shops and a couple of cafes, it's also pumped up with extra oxygen to counteract the lack of it due to the altitude.
While we were exploring around at the different look-off points, we noticed a sign indicating the price (see right) to bring a mountain bike up on the teleferiqo and enjoy a kamikaze ride back down the bike trail to the bottom.
Can you guess what we'll be trying the next time?
On the way back down we kept our eyes peeled for the bike trail, and it looked pretty good.
I didn't notice any speed limits, so I'm guessing Bryan will reach the bottom long before I do 🙂
At the bottom, there is a small amusement park, and some places to get snacks and gifts. There are also some very nice-looking empty buildings.
We aren't sure but it looked like either we were there in the off-season, or they were anticipating it to be a much larger tourist attraction than it's turned out to be. Because it was so close to carnival, we don't think it was the off-season.
So if you see some empty building when you arrive, don't let that stop you, just keep walking up following the signs and you'll come to it.
The ride itself cost $8.50 for adults and $6.50 for children, but we got it for 4.90 adults and $2.50 children. We got the local price because we had our visa identification with us.
We really enjoyed the teleferiqo. It was something we'll remember for a long time, partly due to the amazing views, and partly thanks to the nice big coffee mug I got there. It helps me wake me up every morning 🙂
To get there we caught a taxi from Parque El Ejido for $3. When we were finished the ride, there were vans waiting outside the main area to take us back down into the city. We asked to be taken to Mall de Jardin, and again it was only $3.
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Teleferiqo Warning Sign: Don’t Run – You’ll Die!
While atop El TelefériQo in Quito, I saw this sign. Even if you don't know Spanish, you can probably tell what this means. Essentially, it says: 4,100 meters altitude – Don't run or You'll Die.
But actually it just says: Warning. 4,100 meters altitude. Slow. No Running. As if, if you do fall, you'll free fall for the full 4,100 meters, right to sea level.
Would you like to take a ride up the TelefériQo? Have you already done it? Please share your comments on this post.
Parque Vulqano: Quito’s Fun Park
Did you know that there's a fun park in Quito?
We had no idea. Some friends told us about it when we were talking about an upcoming trip. So, we made sure to check it out.
While there certainly aren't any Disney World styled theme parks in Ecuador, there are a few amusement parks.
This one is located at the foot of El TelefériQo in Quito.
The huge 30 foot banner above the ticket office declares Entrada Gratuita (or Free Entry) – which is true.
Well, it's true if all you want to do is enter.
The park has rides and carnival-style games of chance. Throw a ring around the bottle or show your strength with the hammer game… All the rides and games work on a swipe-card system, that is recharged (yup, not free) at a little stand under the huge “Gratuita” banner.
The location couldn't be nicer (you can see Quito in the background). It is located at a high elevation so the view is amazing! It makes a nice diversion for the kids after a trip up El TelefériQo.
By the way, it really is called (and spelled) Parque Vulqano. It's sort of a blend of English and Spanish. In Spanish Volcano is volcán – so vulqano is a fabricated word.
A ride up the TelefériQo and a visit to the fun park makes for a fun morning or afternoon with the family. Our daughter was delighted to spend time exploring here, and we really enjoyed it!
Will you include a visit to Parque Vulqano when you're in Quito? Have you already been there? Tell us about it by commenting on this post.