The TelefériQo (a merging of the words teleférico and Quito), or TelefériQo Cruz Loma, is a towering gondola lift in Ecuador´s capital. It operates from the edge of the city centre along the East side of the Pichincha volcano, passing panoramic views of the city and treetops, until reaching the beautiful lookout of Cruz Loma.
The attraction is one of the highest aerial lifts in the world, rising from 3.117m (10,226 ft) to 3,945m (12,943 ft), and scaling around the same dizzying heights as the Tiament Chan Cable car in China and the Téléphérique de l’Aiguille du Midi in France.
The construction was heavily influenced by innovative French technology practised at the international company ´Loma´, contributing to it´s heavily modern look and feel. Opened in July 2005, The TelefériQo played a starring role in the movement to rejuvenate Ecuadorian tourism, with the surrounding area incorporating a visitor centre, restaurants, a food court, and the colourful ´Vulquano Park´ amusement park.
My friends and I hopped into one of 18 available white cable cars, each able to comfortably fit upto six people. The all-encompassing views of the city as we ascended were breathtaking; the bright buildings in the early morning sunshine, the surrouding greenery and hills, the mountains in the far horizon. The route takes around 8-10 minutes, covers a distance of 2500m, and provides a pretty daunting view if you dare to look down.
When we disembarked we found the weather conditions to be alot chillier than down below in Quito; due to the increased altitude and the wind on the mountain it is cooler than the city, and is susceptible to fog, especially in the mornings. Fortunately for us, this morning was bright and clear, giving us unspoiled views for miles. Many peaks of the Andes were visible from a part known as the Avenue of Volcanues, and we could even spot Cotopaxi sitting majestically behind the clouds.
The TelefériQo has fast become an extremely popular Ecuadorian destination for hiking and biking. There is both the possibility to leisurely tek further up the mountain (this usually takes around three hours), and to dart expeditiously back down the mountain, via extremely muddy and adrenaline inducing biking trails. If you choose the latter option, don´t worry about the strain of getting your bike back up for round two; just hitch it onto one of the passing cable cars as is the tradition here.
There is also the option to travel further up the mountain by horse, with a nearby ranch offering animals of all sizes, adorned with brightly coloured mats and reigns.(Dog lovers will also be in their element here; many of the furry friends lounge by the mountain side, stretching and enjoying endless attention from cooing tourists).
My friends and I however chose to take it easy, staying to admire the views around the Teleferiqo base itself. Nearby a native Quito Indian played pan pipes and stalls were set up offering spiced chicken and fried bananas. Despite experiencing a decrease in visitors in the last year, The TelefériQo has plenty to offer tourists, and is an essential stop off on the typical Quito tourist trail. Don´t miss it!
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