Post by Mauricio Miranda.
Teleférico Warairarepano. Image from Ministerio del Poder Popular Para el Turismo.
The Caracas Metrocable is expanding again, and the result promises to be spectacular. The planned 10-km line, which will connect Caracas with the northern state of Vargas, offers riders the possibility of travelling to three different landscapes—the beach, mountains, and the city—during the approximately 45-minute trip.
The main objective of this $680 million USD investment is to further promote tourism in the region by connecting Venezuela’s capital with the nearby coast — Vargas is a notable destination for tourists, due to its beaches and close proximity to Caracas. The system will also be used as an alternate route to Simon Bolivar de Maiquetia International Airport, which is a 20 minute drive from Macuto.
Image from El Venezolanoes.
What is interesting about this project is that there once was a cable car system that connected Caracas with Macuto’s beach area along this very route. Built in the 1950s, the first section of the gondola travelled from Caracas’ Mariperez to the Warairarepano National Park (or Avila Park as it’s also known) where a funicular system also carried riders for 600 meters to Humboldt Hotel (built on top of a mountain within park). From there, it continued to El Cojo station in Macuto.
Fun fact: The system featured a golden coloured cabin reserved for presidential use, which was emblazoned with Venezuela’s national coat of arms. Unfortunately the system experienced a significant decline of ridership during the 20-or-so years after it was built, which led to it shutting down permanently in the late 1970s.
In the following decades, all the stations and infrastructure was pretty much left to deteriorate. Other than a few unsuccessful efforts to revive the cable car, no significant progress was ever made until early 2000s, when the first section was retrofitted by the federal government, converting it into one of the most modern cable car facilities.
Though I have not been there personally, everything I’ve seen and read about the system makes it sound like an amazing place. At the Warairarepano Park station, which sits 2,150 meters above sea level, one can appreciate the different landscapes that Caracas and its national park can offer. The station is also surrounded by restaurants and entertainment facilities: corporate convention rooms overlooking the city; lounges to grab a few drinks at night; great family eateries like La Cima; and even an ice skating rink!
Image from Correo del Orinoco.
Now, the state-owned company Ventel and its partner Doppelmayr is set to to continue the cable car line all the way again to El Cojo-Macuto as was originally intended. The expansion will include three additional stations more: San Jose de Galipan, La Hacienda, and El Cojo-Macuto. (See the image below for the route plan.)
Route Map. Image from Noticias365.net
La Hacienda Station. Image from Noticias365.net
There’s been much effort by the developers to retain as much of the existing cable-car infrastructure as possible. In particular, the Macuto station has the potential to become something remarkable, especially when you consider how spacious and aesthetically pleasing the Metrocable stations in Caracas are already.
The government predicts that the system will attract some five million annual riders, numbers which are bolstered by the fact that the Warairarepano Park station complex already receives around two million visitors each year. Two additional hotels already under construction should further boost the project’s profile and tourism in general.
I don’t know about you, but it sounds like it would be a great Sunday plan to go to the beach, check out a national park and be back in the city all in a 45 minute ride.
Major destinations to be connected to by cable car. Image by Mauricio Miranda.