Pichincha Volcano known in Spanish as Rucu Pichincha, is an incredible 4,784 m.a.s.l. high volcano on the eastern side of Quito. The trailhead begins at Cruz de Loma, a lookout point after an 8 to 10-minute ride on the highest gondola in South America called the TeleferiQo. You’ll continue with the other hardcore adventurers for a few more hours, where you’ll get epic views of other Andean peaks including Antisana, Cayambe, Cotopaxí, Pasochoa, and Rummiñahui. You haven’t seen the capital until you’ve gone on this hike.
It’s a demanding hike to the top, but it is not a technical climb. It’s best to start in the morning because it often rains and gets cloudy and foggy in the afternoon. From the top of the TeleferiQo at Cruz de Loma, it will take about 3 to 4 hours round trip. The weather changes very frequently, so make sure you’re prepared with the right gear. Consult the Outtt day hiking packing list. If it’s not a good weather day it will be hard to see from the top, but you will most likely see Quito from Cruz de Loma.
Give yourself a few days to get acclimated to Quito’s high altitude of 2,800 m.a.s.l. before embarking on this adventure. The teleferiQo opened in July 2005, and is open 7-days a week, from 9:00 to 20:00 Tuesday - Thursday and 8:00 to 20:00 Friday - Monday. Please remember to bring a photo ID with you, which helps organizers keep track of who’s on the mountain.
Tips and hints
- Parking (paid)
- Coffee shop and restaurant (at the top of the TeleferiQo)
After the TeleferiQo it's only mountain landscape. It's a good idea to pack food and water for your trip.
To reach the trailhead, you must first take a 20-minute gondola called TeleferiQo, this will cost you $8.50 as a foreigner which is valid for both directions. The gondola entrance starts at the base of the mountain near VulQano Park Amusement. To get to TeleferiQo there are a few options:
This is the easiest option and will cost you $5 from the Mariscal, where there are many accommodation options. Tell the taxi driver to drop you off in front of TeleferiQo, the entrance is located on the street Arnulfo Araujo and Avenida Occidental, Western Avenue (near the intersection with Gasca Avenue).
There are two close stops to the base: Antonio Jose de Sucre Y N25, bus numbers 154, 88, 208, 89, 154, 207, 51 and Jose Berrutieta Y Antonio Jose de Sucre (2), bus numbers, 131, 131-A. 15 to 20 min walk little over a km from the stop
Follow the same directions as the taxi. There is paid parking available.