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Riding the Quito TelefériQo up Ecuador’s Pichincha Volcano (5 Tips / 5 Facts)

Posted in: Ecuador Travel, Quito Ecuador

A great way to see Quito is from above. The TelefériQo (a combination of teleférico and Quito) runs up the foothills of Pichincha Volcano and offers a crazy view of Quito.


5 Fast Facts: Quito TelefériQo

  1. It  is a gondola lift (also known as a cable car).
  2. Travels 2,237 linear meters in just 8 minutes
  3. Rises from 3,117 meters (10, 226 ft) to 3,945 meters (12,943) making it one of the highest aerial lifts in the world.
  4. Opened in July 2005 as a tourist attraction.
  5. From the top of the teleferico you can continue on to hike the volcano.

There seems to be some confusion about the altitude at the top. Some sources state 3,945 m while a sign at the top says it is 4,100 m.

Either way – it’s high and cold. As you can see in the video below, the weather changes quickly. It went from sunny to compete cloud in just one minute.

Riding Quito’s TelefériQo

Watch on YouTube

5 Travel Tips for the Quito TelefériQo

  1. Bring a jacket (and maybe a scarf). It is cold and windy at the top.
  2. Go in the morning – preferably one that is clear. The views on a clear day are amazing.
  3. Be careful about physical exertion while at the top. If you haven’t acclimated to Quito yet, you could be very short of breath. Some travelers get headaches at the top.
  4. Bring your cedula if you are an Ecuadorian resident and you’ll pay the local rate. When we were there we paid $4.90 ea (instead of the $8.50 rate for foreigners).
  5. Drink lots of water.
warning-no-running-4100meters quito-teleferiqo-ecuador quito-gondola-car mountain-teleferico

At the top of the cable car you can get a snack, a souvenir and a rest. High elevations can be tiring even if you aren’t exerting yourself.

At the visitor center (at the base of the teleferico) there is an amusement park known as Vulqano Park.

More reading: Here are the best things to do in Quito, Ecuador

Getting To (and From) El TelefériQo

It is easy to get a taxi to the site. They all know where it is and it is just a few dollars. You can ask your hotel to arrange transport or you can just grab one on the street.

To get back to our hotel we used the shuttle that went every hour. The site is a little isolated so there wasn’t many taxis waiting around. If it isn’t too late in the day, you could probably grab one that just dropped off other passengers.

It was a clear day so the view during the ride, and at the top was spectacular! We could see what looked liked the entire city and the surrounding mountains.

(You may also want to read about Parque La Carolina, Parque El Ejido, and Parque Vulqano (the fun park at the base of El TelefériQo) some great place to take the kids in Quito).

Best Way to See Quito: Ride El TelefériQo 

quito ecuador panorama

El TelefériQo is very similar to a ski lift, with windows all around and benches to sit on.  Each unit is fixed to its own specific spot on a very thick metal cord, so you kind of just hang there swaying gently and gliding smoothly to the top.

Teleferiqo - Quitos Cable Car

We felt safe inside, but because of the nature of the lift itself, still enjoyed the thrill of the height, and joking around about “what if . . .”dena riding el teleferiqo

As we progressed up, up, up the mountain we enjoyed ever expanding views of the city, and the surrounding countryside.

The ride took about 10 minutes.

Our daughter was got so excited! She just kept looking all around, pointing and talking about how beautiful everything was.

It was also neat to see the cows grazing peacefully as we went by, high above their heads. Drew (our daughter) didn’t seem to think that cows should be up that high on the side of the mountain :).

Teleferiqo - Quitos Cable Car

Teleferiqo - Quitos Cable CarThe height at the top is about 4100 meters (13, 450 feet) and because of that it was cold and dizzying.  There is a building with some small gift shops and a couple of cafes, it’s also pumped up with extra oxygen to counteract the lack of it due to the altitude.

While we were exploring around at the different look off points, we noticed a sign indicating the price (see right)teleferiqo-biking to bring a mountain bike up on the teleferiqo and enjoy a kamikaze ride back down the bike trail to the bottom.

Can you guess what we’ll be trying the next time?

On the way back down we kept out eyes peeled for the bike trail, and it looked pretty good.

I didn’t notice any speed limits, so I’m guessing Bryan will reach bottom long before I do 🙂

Teleferiqo - Quitos Cable Car

Teleferiqo - Quitos Cable CarAt the bottom there is a small amusement park, and some places to get snacks and gifts.  There are also some very nice looking empty buildings.

We aren’t sure but it looked like either we were there in off season, or they were anticipating it to be a much larger tourist attraction than it’s turned out to be.  Because it was so close to carnival, we don’t think it was the off season.

So if you see some empty building when you arrive, don’t let that stop you, just keep walking up following the signs and you’ll come to it.

Teleferiqo - Quitos Cable Car

Teleferiqo - Quitos Cable CarThe ride itself cost $8.50 for adults and $6.50 for children, but we got it for 4.90 adults and $2.50 children.  We got the local price because we had our visa identification with us.

Teleferiqo Rates - Quitos Cable Car Teleferiqo - Quitos Cable Car Teleferiqo - Quitos Cable Car

We really enjoyed the teleferiqo.  It was something we’ll remember for a long time, partly due to the amazing views, and partly thanks to the nice big coffee mug I got there. It helps me wake me up every morning 🙂

Teleferiqo - Quitos Cable Car Teleferiqo - Quitos Cable Car Teleferiqo - Quitos Cable Car Teleferiqo - Quitos Cable Car

To get there we caught a taxi from Parque El Ejido for $3. When we were finished the ride, there were vans waiting outside the main area to take us back down into the city.  We asked to be taken to Mall de Jardin, and again it was only $3.

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Teleferiqo Warning Sign: Don’t Run – You’ll Die!

While atop El TelefériQo in Quito, I saw this sign. Even if you don’t know Spanish, you can probably tell what this means. Essentially, it says:

4,100 meters altitude – Don’t run or You’ll Die.

But actually it just says: Warning. 4,100 meters altitude. Slow. No Running. As if, if you do fall, you’ll free fall for the full 4,100 meters, right to sea level.

WeeklyPhoto-Dont-Run-Youll-DieWould you like to take a ride up the TelefériQo? Have you already done it? Please share your comments on this post.

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Travel.

8 comments… add one
  • melissa comyn Oct 9, 2018, 12:32 am

    do you know the hours of operation I can’t find an official website for the cable car just tour info

  • Emily May 28, 2018, 5:49 am

    Going on the teleferico looks amazing! Is the $8.50 foreigners rate the price of a return ticket? Is it safe to climb Rucu Pichincha, in terms of the trail being well defined?

  • Stewart Jul 2, 2014, 4:50 am

    Great article and video my friends.

    Ok teleferico is one place in Quito I haven’t been and your article makes me want to go.

    Probably one saturday I’ll go with friends or family early morning as you say to try out a
    new Canon camera at least.

    Best wishes.

  • norma Jun 22, 2014, 9:00 am

    Good morning, my husband & I & little dog will relocate from san francisco, california, USA to to live in Cuenca. One of our many & biggest concerns. Where will we live. My little dog is an ESC (emotional service companion); therefore I need to have him with me. How do we secure temporary lodging in advance of our arrival. We would prefer a clean, well maintained unfurnished apartment in a quiet location. Thank you so very much for your valuable insight. Sincerely – Norma

    • Bryan Haines Jun 24, 2014, 12:14 pm

      There are lots of hotels – just check with them online to see if they allow pets. Or you could look at renting a short term furnished place for a month. There are lots of options – it just takes a little research.

    • Thos Oct 7, 2020, 12:40 am

      15 minutes walk from the top of the chair lift is a big swing on the edge of the mountain.
      A thrilling ride. Sometimes you can see the jets coming in to land below you.

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