Love the mountains, but not particularly outdoorsy? Leave your crampons and hiking boots at home and take one of these magnificent mountain rides, where you can enjoy the scenic splendour from the comfort of your seat.
Mi Teleferico, Bolivia
Traversing the Bolivian capital of La Paz, the Teléferico is both the highest and longest city cable-car system on the planet. Built to relieve the city’s crippling road congestion, the three lines of this “subway in the sky” spirit a significant proportion of the metropolitan area’s 2.3 million citizens over the gridlock, while providing spectacular views of the surrounding Andean peaks. At an elevation of 3,700 metres, you’ll feel the thrill of flying as you’re smoothly carried over entire neighbourhoods and business districts—all for a ticket price that’s less than a dollar.
Everest Flights, Nepal
It goes without saying that scaling the world’s highest mountain—Nepal’s 8,848-metre Everest—is no mean feat. Most of us know in our heart of hearts that we’ll never ascend the Hillary Step and conquer this mountain. Fortunately, a number of local airlines operating out of Kathmandu’s small domestic airport offer a glimpse of this glory for about a hundred bucks. In the span of a few hours, you’ll climb—metaphorically, anyway—from the runway in the Nepali capital into the heart of the Himalayas, getting close enough to snap a few fantastic photos from your window seat (or, if the plane is super-tiny, the cockpit) before circling back. No oxygen tank required!
Rocky Mountaineer, Canada
Operating on the historic train tracks that laid the foundation in connecting the Canada we know and love today, Rocky Mountaineer delivers some of the finest mountain scenery in the world. Enjoy 360-degree views in the luxurious, bi-level glass-dome GoldLeaf Service coaches as you wind your way around (and occasionally through!) the spectacular peaks of the Rockies, and along the valleys of iconic rivers like the Fraser and Thompson. With select routes that lead through Banff and Jasper national parks as well as Lake Louise and the densely wooded interior of British Columbia, Rocky Mountaineer provides an unparalleled opportunity to spot the wildlife of western Canada, including elk, bighorn sheep, and possibly even bears of the black, brown, and grizzly variety. Rocky Mountaineer’s multi-day journeys include breakfasts and lunches prepared by world-class chefs, B.C. wines, and an invitation to sit back, relax, and let the Rockies come to you.
Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, South Africa
Few places in the world wow like Table Mountain, the flat-topped monolith that serves as the backdrop for most tourists’ photos—and memories—of Cape Town. Completed back in 1929, the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway whisks nearly one million sightseers to the summit every year, rising roughly 1,000 metres in fewer than five minutes. The flat, even paths that crisscross the mountaintop provide sweeping vistas of downtown Cape Town, the Atlantic Ocean, and beyond.
PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, Canada
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and that’s exactly what the PEAK 2 PEAK gondola achieves in linking two of British Columbia’s most popular ski resorts. Spanning the 4.4 kilometres between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, the 11-minute cable car ride is the longest continuous lift system in the world. Completed in 2008, it can transport 4,100 people between the two mountain resorts each hour, and soars 1,427 feet above ground at its highest point. Feast on sights of volcanic peaks, glaciers, alpine meadows, the Fitzsimmons Creek, and even black bears in their natural habitat. If you’re particularly lucky (not to mention brave), you’ll get one of the two gondolas fitted with glass floor-viewing areas that afford a bird’s-eye view of the wilderness below.