Even the most determined travelers have difficulty seeing Quito, Ecuador’s second largest city, it in its entirety. But after only ten minutes on the highest sky rail in South America, you can devour the whole thing with a sweep of the eyes.
The Teleferico whisks passengers right up to the 13,451-foot summit of Cruz Loma, a mountain at the eastern end of the city. Originally the ride was meant to take visitors to a large mall filled with cinemas and exclusive restaurants, but for now there is only a small amusement park and some cozy coffee shops. However, many don’t just ride up for the spectacular view. After reaching the summit, visitors have the option of heading back down or hiking/biking up the Pichincha volcano. If you choose to bring a bike, it can be hitched onto your cable car and ride up the mountain with you.
After clambering out of one of the Teleferico’s six-passenger cars, my friend Laura and I decided that we would try the hike. It was still somewhat early in the morning, so the trail wasn’t as crowded as we expected to be. We met some of the few people on the mountain along the way, and together we formed a group.
Overall, the terrain of the trail wasn’t difficult to traverse. Although the paths can get steep at times, they aren’t overgrown with grass and the area around is completely open. With careful footing, the trails are easy to walk on without breaking an ankle. However, there was one obstacle that wasn’t visible: the altitude.
The air became thinner and thinner as we trekked up the trail’s gradually rising hills. Without realizing it, everyone was heavily breathing after even the slightest inclines (I want to blame it on the altitude, but maybe I really just need to hit the gym more often). The only person who seemed undeterred was Laura, who was extremely fit and looked as though she was just taking a casual afternoon walk. For those who want to give the trail a shot, I recommend that you wear layers; even though the air at the top is cold, the sun and the exertion might make you sweat a little. Also, trying this trail may not be a good idea for people who have just arrived to Quito-if you’re not acclimatized to Quito’s 9,350-foot height, going even higher could be a mistake.
After we walked for a couple of hours, everyone in the group decided to turn back before reaching the summit. Those who got to the top reported that the trail eventually becomes steep enough to require hikers to scramble, an action that is somewhat in-between walking and climbing and requires your hands and feet. Because we were tired and needed to get back, our group decided to turn around and warm up.
For those who are traveling through Quito, taking the Teleferico is a must. Because of variety of options at the summit, the ride provides something for everyone, whether they’re a hiker, biker, or just someone who wants a relaxing day out. And no matter what activity you choose to do, everyone gets to see the beautiful view of Quito.
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