El wowo!! The Teleférico (called TeleferiQo in Quito) is a wonderful way to get a bird’s eye view of the valley in which Quito is situated. It takes passengers up the side of Pichincha volcano, to approximately 13,500 feet, up from around 9,000 feet in Quito. It takes about 10 minutes to make the trip to the top.
The air in Quito is thin, which is obvious even before you exert yourself once you land there, but up on the ridge of Pichincha, you have to really breathe heavily pretty much the whole time, just to feel comfortable. They have a couple of oxygen stations (flavored and for a cost), just in case you need a boost. We didn’t experience any altitude sickness during our stay in Quito, just some shortness of breath which didn’t affect us much, honestly, so that was a nice surprise.
A $7 taxi ride from our hotel brought us to a near-empty looking gondola facility. Luckily, everything was open and operating properly, we had just arrived a bit before the crowds. $8.50 per person takes you from 9300 feet to 1350 feet.
The ride was spectacular! You watch Quito get smaller and smaller as you rise slowly through and then above the clouds. It was wonderful.
Once you get to the top, there are several trails you can take –
One that led down to a small church –
One that ran along the ridge line. We walked a little way along it, marveling at the beauty of the mountain terrain, plant and animal life, and the ever-changing cloudscapes!
The day was overcast, so we couldn’t see quite as far as we might have on a sunny day, but the clouds were constantly floating in and out, all we had to do was just wait and watch.
It was one of our favorite days of the whole trip.