Quito's flashiest attraction whisks you from the foothills of Volcán Pichincha to its height (4,050 meters, or 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 lie several restaurants and shops, 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, but don't leave the complex; a few robberies have been reported on the trail to the top. The cable-car trip is worth it, but you need to retain a healthy respect for the altitude.Don't even consider doing this unless you've already become acclimatized to the altitude by having been in the highlands for a few days continuously. And bring a jacket: it gets cold up here. The vistas are stupendous, although mornings can be foggy and obscure your view. We recommend an afternoon or evening visit.