Global Volunteers Ecuador Country Manager Maggie Bjorklund describes a trip up the TelefériQo, one of the world’s highest aerial lifts, and one of the many free-time activities available to volunteers on a service program in Ecuador.
Quito, the highest capital city in the world at 9, 250 feet above sea level, is also home to one of the world’s highest aerial lifts. This gondola lift, called the TelefériQo, was built over an area of 160 hectares on the skirts of Pichincha Volcano. It whisks you up from 10, 226 feet to 12, 943 feet in about eight minutes. The TelefériQo goes up to the summit of Cruz Loma, right next to Pichincha Volcano, to give visitors spectacular views of the city and the surrounding mountains and volcanoes. On a clear day, one can see snow-capped peaks such as Cotopaxi Volcano, Antisana Volcano, and Cayambe Volcano as well as eleven more Andean peaks that make up the “Avenue of the Volcanoes.”
At the visitor base, there is a small amusement park. At the summit there are restaurants, coffee bars, and stores. Horseback riding is available. There are four hiking trails at the top. The longest trail leads to Rucu Pichincha Volcano, which is a demanding climb that offers the opportunity to reach 15, 354 feet above sea level in a relatively short time and experience the exhilaration of the summit of an active volcano!
Accessing one of the World’s Highest Aerial Lifts
The starting station of the TelefériQo is right in the heart of Quito, just a cab ride away from many hotels and the TelefériQo also offers shuttle buses to and from the visitor base. The cost for this amazing experience is $8.50 for foreigners. At the top of the TelefériQo, one has breathtaking views of the capital city of Ecuador.
Of course, 13, 000 feet above sea level is nothing to scoff at so it is recommended to wait until one has acclimatized to the elevation of Quito before going up to the summit of Cruz Loma. It is chilly so bring a jacket.
A ride up the cable cars plus a little walk around the top only takes about an hour. Be sure to visit the TelefériQo when in Quito – the view is incomparable!
Free-time on weekends provide volunteers ample time to enjoy the natural, cultural, archaeological and educational features of Ecuador. Two other fascinating free-time opportunities on an Ecuador Service Program are visiting the Equator at zero latitude, and visiting the renown Baños de Agua Santa – only a short trip south of Quito.