Quito's flashiest attraction whisks you from the foothills of Volcán Pichincha to its height (4,050 meters [13,300 feet]) courtesy of a fleet of six-passenger gondola cars. Ascending the 1,100 meters (3,620 feet) to the top is accomplished in just 10 minutes. (Lines are long but move quickly; your $8.50 admission [double what Ecuadorans pay] gives you access to an express queue.) At the base you'll find a complex containing a shopping center and an amusement park called Vulqano Park. At the top is a small snack shop as well as a first-aid station with oxygen in case you develop problems with the high altitude. The volcano's summit lies another 215 meters (700 feet) higher; when the sky is clear, the views are breathtaking (literally), but you'll need to be fit and in hiking shoes to take this on. Note that while safety up here has improved, a few robberies have been reported on the trail to the top. The cable-car trip is worth it, but retain a healthy respect for the altitude. Don't
head up here unless you've already become acclimatized to the altitude by having been in the highlands for a few days continuously–-and even then, take it easy at the top. Be sure to bring a jacket: it can get cold and windy. The vistas are stupendous, although mornings can be foggy and obscure your view. We recommend an afternoon or evening visit.