Telefériqo: a great experience for all

Only 20 minutes from Quito’s center is the TelefériQo, one of the capital’s most impressive sights and an activity you can’t miss while visiting, or even just passing through, the city.

As a long time resident of Quito, I try to spend my weekends out in nature, exploring Ecuador’s diverse natural environments. Time permitting, I’ll take a day to visit nearby peaks, like Corazón, Rumiñahui, or Pasochoa and, given more time, gateway cities to the Amazon are only 3-5 hour’s drive away. Most weekends, though, there’s less time to spare and the most gratifying solution is to ride up the TelefériQo and hike up Rucu Pichincha.

TelefériQo

A Great Experience for All

Only 20 minutes from Quito’s center is the TelefériQo, one of the capital’s most impressive sights and an activity you can’t miss while visiting, or even just passing through, the city.

As a long time resident of Quito, I try to spend my weekends out in nature, exploring Ecuador’s diverse natural environments. Time permitting, I’ll take a day to visit nearby peaks, like Corazón, Rumiñahui, or Pasochoa and, given more time, gateway cities to the Amazon are only 3-5 hour’s drive away. Most weekends, though, there’s less time to spare and the most gratifying solution is to ride up the TelefériQo and hike up Rucu Pichincha.

What is TelefériQo?

What is TelefériQo?

The name TelefériQo combines the word teléferico (cable car) and Quito. It opened in July 2005 and rises from 3,117 m (10,226 ft) to 3,945 m (12,943 ft), making it one of the highest aerial lifts in the world.

The TelefériQo operates everyday (except for some holidays) from 9 am to 9 pm on weekdays and 8 am to 8pm on weekends. You can get to the entrance by taxi for a few dollars from the center of the city and to ride as a foreigner costs $8.50.

If you don’t feel like paying that much for the scenic 20 minute ride to the top, you can always hike from Vulqano Park, just make sure to start really early as the entire hike to the TelefériQo landing at 3,945 m (12,943 ft) will take about 2-3 hours, depending on your pace and stamina.

You can follow this route. This is also a good option if you’re heading up with dogs and don’t feel like paying an additional $4.50 for the ride.

Ecuador by bus

Reasons why you will love it

There are many reasons why you’ll love a visit to the TelefériQo. Here are a few:

  1. It’s an easy way to escape the city. Quito can get overwhelming – it’s quite polluted and the Old Town, which you’ll probably explore during your visit – feels busy. While there are numerous parks throughout the city, like Parque Metropolitano, the TelefériQo, and the páramo (Andean grasslands), make you feel far-removed from civilization.
  2. The view is incredible! As soon as the it begins its ascent, you’ll witness a 180 degree panoramic view of the city and valley below. On a clear day, you’ll even see distant peaks and even giants like Antisana and Cotopaxi. Sunset rides are a particular favorite.
  3. Get a hardcore workout in. If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, a hike up Rucu Pichincha will be a definite relief. There’s nothing like huffing and puffing up a huge Andean peak reaching ‎4794 m (15728 ft) in elevation. To avoid passing out, you have to focus on the breath…which I hear is good for you. More on climbing Rucu Pichincha below.

Please note that if you’re coming from a lower altitude region or country, you might experience altitude sickness at the TelefériQo, whether or not you climb Rucu Pichincha. Make sure to take it slow as you walk around, drink enough water and take sun and rain protection. The weather at this altitude can be volatile.

Teleferico Quito

Other interesting activities nearby

After visiting the TeleferiQo you will find other activities to enjoy your trip the most. Such as summit Ruco Pichincha, visit Vulqano Park or The Swing or eat local food.

Summit Rucu Pichincha

Although I already mentioned this, it’s an activity you should really attempt while you’re already on the mountain. While you don’t need a guide to do this route, you can’t completely wing it either. Here are a few tips for your summit expedition.

  • Make sure to grab an early breakfast and get on the first ride at 8am (on the weekend). This is already a bit late for summiting a high peak, but you don’t have much of a choice unless you want to start your climb from the base of the TelefériQo.
  • Take layers, including a fleece jacket, rain protection, hat and gloves. The wind near the peak is frigid, even on a sunny day. Speaking of the sun, make sure you take enough sun protection (even on a cloudy day). Bring sufficient water and snacks – especially to celebrate at the summit!
  • After passing the grasslands, you’ll reach a few rocky faces you’ll need to traverse. Following that, you’ll reach the arenal, a sandy ascent that can be exhausting since you’ll take one step up and slide the equivalent of two steps down. After this is a sharp climb up sharp boulders to reach the peak. Some climbers I’ve met consider the climb much harder than they expected, but then again, regular Ecuadorians frequently climb this mountain is regular tennis shoes 🙂

Vulqano Park

You’ll likely see Vulqano Park on your way to the launch area. It’s a family-friendly amusement park at the entrance of the same area and a good location if you have children. There’s bumper cars, a haunted house, a roller coaster, and more. During the week it’s open from 11am – 8pm and on the weekend from 9am- 8pm.

The Swing

Since the Swing at the End of the World, located in Baños, gained fame, other similar swings have been popping up all over the country at popular tourist destinations. After getting off the TelefériQo and walking past the pony corral, you’ll head towards Rucu Pichincha and likely see a small group of people waiting for their chance to be photographed on a swing. Get in line for the photo opp!

Eat a local, traditional meal

Right beside the pony corral you’ll see a large hut where indigenous women are cooking and serving local, traditional warm meals. Here you can try some corn on the cob with fresh cheese or a savory chicken soup. This lunch stop is only open starting at lunch time until closing time so my recommendation would be to hike up Rucu Pichincha as far as you can go and then head here for a well-deserved lunch. If you’re feeling light-headed, you can also grab a Gatorade here.Wanderbus Ecuador

Wanderbus Ecuador

Are you thinking about exploring other areas of the country? Consider hopping on the Wanderbus, one of the most convenient and safe ways to travel in Ecuador.

The Wanderbus has numerous, specially designed passes for travelers that want to make the most of their time and see the country’s top destinations across its three diverse regions: Amazon, Andes and Pacific Coast.

Our buses offer convenient pick up and drop off points throughout the city – often directly at hotels – and a bilingual guide rides with you, offering relevant tips and recommendations at every spot.

Happy Wandering!

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