10. Quito: City Tour, Teleferico & Pichincha Volcano Hike
Departing from your Quito hotel, you'll embark on a journey that will let you discover some of Quito's top attractions. First, visit Panecillo Hill which allows for panoramic views of the city. Don't forget to bring your camera. The tour will then continue on to the Basilica Church, and to the San Juan Mirador from where you'll have a beautiful sight of Quito's colonial center.
Stroll through the colonial streets and get a glimpse at the old city's top attractions including Independence Plaza, the cathedral and the Government Palace. You'll also visit La Ronda Street, the Company Church, Santo Domingo Church, Sagrario Church and San Francisco Church. After visiting the historical site, head to Teleferico, Quito's famous cable car. This is one of the best ways to enjoy the city with views of beautiful valleys, snow-capped mountains and of the city itself. From a point at more than 4,100 meters (13,500 feet), you'll enjoy magnificent views, as well as embarking on a leisurely hike on top of the mountains.
If you are already acclimatized, you can go for a walk to Rucu Pichincha volcano. This hike will take you through the typical Paramo (highland) vegetation of the Andes up to the rocky summit of Rucu Pichincha, which is a volcano basically made up of series of andesitic lava and is crowned by a sequence of subglacial gaps that form the youngest peaks of this building. The Rucu Pichincha 4698 meters, a volcano without activity, is located in the vicinity of the Ecuadorian capital. It is advisable to climb it to acclimatize, if you intend to climb other mountains. The Rucu Pichincha is undoubtedly the mountain near Quito of greater importance. Its name is due to the fact that it was the first crater of the Pichincha massif and therefore the oldest peak. "Rucu" which in Quichua means "old," is an extinct volcano whose activity culminated in the Pleistocene. From this time, it was intensely eroded by the ancient glaciers that have polished its slopes and have only left pointed rocky peaks. From the 4698 meters (15450 feet) high summit, you will have great sights on a clear day, with Quito down in the valley below you and the surrounding snow-capped volcanoes Cayambe, Antisana and Cotopaxi in the horizon. In the afternoon, you will return to Quito.