An average Joe transforms into a momentary thrill-seeker as they purchase their ticket to embark upon some of the world’s most exhilarating cable car rides.
One moment you’re boarding the little gondola, all safe and sound, and the next you’re suspended thousands of feet high up in the air. Gravity is working against these mind-boggling feats of design. The altitude increases rapidly as the gondola elevates meter by meter.
The views below are undeniably spectacular. But, there’s no denying that if it weren’t for these amazingly engineered ropes holding you up, you would be plunging to your certain death.
Have a read for the top 10 most thrilling cable car rides in the world - they’ll guarantee to take your breath away!
Let’s kick off this list with the steepest cable car in the world! It also holds the record for the longest mono-cable car. Travel 2,150 meters to its end point, and you will be greeted with views of a lush green mountainous canopy below you nestled within a UNESCO Global Geopark, Machinchang is Malaysia’s oldest mountain range. This cable car offers you rich scenery, tons of wildlife, and views of Langkawi’s archipelago. In addition, you can opt to ride in the glass-bottomed gondola, which is guaranteed to make your journey one-of-a-kind. It is 708m above sea level and boasts ethereal views of Machincang mountain. Accessible only via the cable car is the SkyBridge, it is the longest free-span and curved bridge in the world. You can stop and take in the fabulous 360º views of the mountains below. Somehow, the crazy steep gradient of this cable car is even more terrifying on the descent!
This little gem may not be the steepest or longest cable car, but it sure packs a punch! First, you take a crazy steep funicular up to the cable car boarding point. It is from there that you first get a glimpse of the journey ahead. It’s a scenic ride that shows off Barcelona’s stunning vista; In the distance, you can enjoy city sights such as Gaudi’s Sagrada Familiar and fantastic views of the sprawling Barcelonetta beach. Once you’ve travelled 752m along the cable car way, you reach your destination: the mighty Montjuic Castle! It is here you can learn all about Catalonian military history; the castle played a pivotal defence role in the War of the Spanish Succession between 1705 and 1714 and was where the president of the Catalan government, Lluís Companys, was executed by firing squad at the castle on the15th October, 1940. With the current climate for Catalonia’s fight for independence, this cable car should not be overlooked!
Built in 1997, the savvy villagers of Yushan recycled a second-hand cable from a European ski resort and engineered a homemade cable car. Set deep within the rural Hefeng County, Kushan is Inconveniently located 150km away from the next town. Rudimentary in design, this cable car follows the skeleton principals to transport users to and from their destinations.
Make no mistake, this cable car is not for the faint of heart. Suspended 480m between two cliffs and covering a 1km journey, the basic open-air gondola is a steel cage with wooden planking. Yet this make-shift cable car is a lifeline for local villagers, cutting down their commute from one day to a matter of minutes.
The local government is currently building road-access to the village, with plans to retire this quirky cable car upon completion. If ever you’re in the area, maybe give this white-knuckle ride a go, if you’re brave enough!
Too few cable cars exist right in the heart of a capital city, let alone a sprawling metropolis such as London. Crossing the iconic River Thames between the Royal Docks and North Greenwich Peninsula, the cable car connects the north and south banks. At a modest 90m above ground, this cable car won’t be winning any prizes for height above ground, but it contends with the others on this list in a number of ways.
With a population of over 10 million people, the Emirates Cable Car serves commuters and tourists alike. Gondolas arrive every 30 seconds and take an average time of ten minutes to make the 1km crossing.
Gliding through England’s bustling capital has never been more versatile; during commuter hours, the journey takes a rapid 5 minutes, whereas between 7pm and 11pm, the journey time extends to 25 minutes to allow visitors a late night experience. This vibrant cityscape epitomises London’s urban feel. Canary Wharf’s skyscrapers and the modern O2 Arena play second fiddle to the intimidating views of the Thames Barrier. It sure makes you wonder what would happen if the floodgates did open…
Relish every second of this 7.5km ride over Australia’s World Heritage listed Tropical Rainforest. Australia’s Tropical Rainforests are even older than the Amazon, and is one of the most diverse rainforests in the world. Bit of a nature buff? Then you’ll love the complimentary ranger-guided boardwalk tours through the rainforest canopy and the breathtaking views of the powerful Barron gorge. A plethora of flora and fauna to feast your eyes upon is guaranteed; pythons, orchids, ferns, and tree kangaroos (!) have all been spotted. This cable car has won dozens of awards in eco-tourism and sustainability over the years. So, support a good cause, feel virtuous, and soak up the natural beauty of this lush rainforest!
In an attempt to boost tourism and the economy, Venezuela reopened its cable car doors back in 2013, after having been out of service for five years prior. And thank goodness they did - or else we would be saying goodbye to the highest and longest cable car in the world! Spanning seven countries in South America, the world’s longest mountain range, the Andes, is the backdrop for this thrilling cable car ride.
Rising to 4,765m above sea level, it’s important to know the potential risks associated with high levels of altitude; symptoms inducing extreme sickness, and in some cases, death. Not to make light of a serious topic, but you can’t fault the facilities - heck, they even have oxygen facilities to-hand.
Travel along this 12.5km ride and soak up the mesmerizing views of Lion mountain and The Sleeping Giant to name a few. Feast your eyes on the exquisite mountain ranges, including the highest point in all of Venezuela, Bolivar peak, the vast valley below, and the buzzing cityscape of Mérida.
Cable cars are great - you can travel high up in the sky knowing you are perfectly shielded from the elements. Oh, wait - CabriO Stanserhorn cable car has thrown this all out of whack by running the world’s first cable car with an open-air upper deck. This revolutionary cable car, built in 2010, climbs to 1850m above sea level and offers an unforgettable experience. Well, you can’t beat that classic Swiss ingenuity! A behemoth of a cable car, it has the capacity for up to 60 people to experience an unfettered view of the Bernese Alps Lake Lucerne below. With stairs to the upper deck, up to 30 daredevils at a time can climb to the upper deck and see the vista without any silly old glass getting in the way! Whizzing open-air through the Alps, you’ll definitely feel the wind in your hair.
Once again, the crazy engineering doesn’t stop here! This revolutionary cable car in Palm Springs has gondolas that rotate 360 degrees throughout the ten-minute journey. If ever you were on the fence about this modest cable car making the top ten, consider this: the rotating cars ensure that you get a completely unobstructed view - no more fighting amongst tourists for the best spot, everyone gets a fair and equally stunning panoramic view of the Californian vista. With views of one of America’s steepest desert canyons, Chino Canyon, this 2.5km cable car journey is worth it.
Well, if one cable wasn’t enough, and two cables wasn’t enough - this will certainly satisfy you - Fansipan Legend is the world’s longest 3 rope system cable car in the world. It spans over 6.2km and has a height difference of 1410m between the lower and upper stations, grabbing yet another world record in ingenuity. Fansipan Legend opened in February 2016, cutting the journey time to access the peak from 2-3 days to just 15 minutes. Every visitor can enjoy stunning views over the Muong Hoa Valley below, and the intimidating peak of Fansipan Mountain (3143m above sea level) just off in the distance. Dubbed the ‘Rooftop of Indochina’, Fansipan does what it says on the tin: it is the highest peak in all of Indochina. An aerial view of never-ending rice terraces sprawling down below make for a quintessentially South East Asian experience.
We’ve covered the highest, the longest, and the steepest cable cars, but what about the longest free span between ropeway towers? That world record belongs to Canada’s PEAK 2 PEAK cable car, spanning a grant total of 3.024km. Set between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, and soaring above Fitzsimmons valley, this busy cable car system is capable of transporting up to 4,100 people per hour - now that is efficient! Soaring at 436 metres above ground, panoramic views of volcanic peaks and glaciers can be observed. If you’re eagle-eyed, you might even spot a black bear. Misty mountain tops and sleepy snow covered peaks make for a picture perfect moment. Taking a total of 11 minutes each way, you’ll be wishing for this journey to last longer.
Rebecca Da Silva is a small business owner (seriously, she’s very tiny) and freelance writer. She is the founder of Zero menstrual cups and spends her time breaking the taboo around menstruation. Visit www.zerocup.co.uk to learn more about sustainable period products. Rebecca enjoys living out of a tiny backpack, calling new places “home” - for a short while, at least - and slow, long-term travel. You can follow her journey on Instagram @_becular or stop by her blog becular.wordpress.com.