Top 5 Cable Car Rides in Latin America
1. La Paz, Bolivia
This newly launched cable car route connects the bustling capital of La Paz with the world’s highest major metropolis, cliff edge city of El Alto at 4,150m – where the airport is situated. As you cruise you’ll witness spectacular views of the snow-capped Andes as you ascend almost 500m. It is officially the longest and highest cable car in the world built to transform the previously chaotic commute on the ground.
Set in a deep canyon, La Paz is dominated by the snow-capped peak of Mount Illimani. The colonial core around Plaza Murillo retains much of its quirky Spanish charm, lively with families particularly at the weekend. Beyond, there are cavernous indigenous markets with restaurant grills open to the street and narrow alleyways lined with museums, churches and craft shops. Ambulant vendors in felt bowler hats and colourful shawls crouch below the skyscrapers in tree-lined modern avenues.
Combines best with; World’s highest navigable lake which is Lake Titicaca (Bolivia), Machu Picchu in Peru and the Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia.
2. Copper Canyon, Mexico
Located in the northern state of Chihuahua, the Copper Canyon cable car is now the third longest in the world – stretching 5.5km and split into two sections. You’ll glide above spectacular natural landscapes, over gaping ravines, wild inhospitable plateaus and boulder fields. At several points you’ll rise to 450m above ground level. There are two cars each with the capacity to hold 60 passengers that depart from the train station viewpoint at Divisidero to a stop 2.7km away. A fact that surprises many people is that this spectacular natural setting is larger, and in certain parts, deeper that the Grand Canyon!
Combines best with; Aztec ruins of Mexico City, train ride through Copper Canyon and the glorious beaches of Baja California.
3. Medellín, Colombia
Medellín is an outgoing, friendly and lively city with a strong cultural scene and a buzzing nightlife – it is after all the salsa capital of the world! It is home to a comprehensive metrocable system which we would call a cable car, designed to open up some of the least developed suburban areas of Medellín. It is considered to be the first cable car system to appear in Latin America. You’ll catch sight of this moden city, with its wealth built on the back of the textile, flower and coffee industries.
It’s a great base from which to explore the surrounding Antioquia countryside; the gateway to the verdant and picturesque coffee-growing region. Horticulturists will enjoy the sight and sent of blossoms during the Medellín 10-day long flower festival, held annually in August.
Combines best with; Coffee-growing region and colonial Cartagena.
4. Quito, Ecuador
This is the world’s second-highest cable car. It’s located on the eastern flanks of the Pichincha Volcano which overlooks the entire city. It carries visitors up to an amazing 4,000 meters – on clear days, you can spot half-a-dozen volcanoes and marvel at the city below.
Quito stands at 2,850m and this heady altitude, together with the latitude (just about on the Equator), provide for a climate of year-round spring. The city spills over many hills, and is divided into two distinct parts: a charming colonial core, with elegant plazas, steep cobbled streets and evocative whitewashed buildings; and a contemporary zone with wide avenues lined with shops, restaurants and nightlife where most of the hotels are situated.
Combines best with; Rainforest adventures in the Amazon and the fearless wildlife of the Galápagos Islands.
5. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
An old favourite, the cable car ride which climbs the world-renowned, hump-backed Sugarloaf Mountain, located between the city centre and Copacabana beach in the picturesque bayside quarter of Urca – one of the most iconic views in Latin America! To reach the summit, you’ll take two cable car rides, the first ascends to the Morro da Urca at 220 meters and the second ascends to Sugarloaf Mountain.
Film buffs may appreciate that an older version of this cable car was used in James Bond’s Moonraker (1979) when Bond (Roger Moore) takes on Jaws in a fight on top of the capsule!
Combines best with; Iguaçu Falls and the lush sub-tropical beaches of the Emerald coast.