Puebla, Mexico, October 7, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela officially reopened the Merida cable car Thursday, after years of anticipation.
The reopening was welcomed by Tourism Minister Marleny Contreras, who said the years long construction effort was a major achievement for Venezuela.“A dream of [former president] Hugo Chavez has become a reality,” Contreras stated.
From its base in Merida, the cable car lifts visitors 3000 meters to a platform just hours from the summit of Pico Bolivar, Venezuela’s highest mountain. It’s also the world’s second longest cable car, and final stage of the ascent includes an eye bulging 3.5 kilometre stretch without any support towers – the longest stretch of its kind.
The cable car has been closed since 2008, when engineers said the half-century old structure had reached the end of its lifespan. The cable car was initially slated to reopen in 2012, but was dogged with multiple delays. Construction was finally completed in July, when the system saw a limited reopening.
Now, the tourism ministry says the wait has been worth it, and is officially reopening the cable car to the broader public.
The entire cable car system has been replaced, with major new features added. Along with modernised cabins, the stations themselves have been turned into tourist attractions.
“The old cable car was designed just to whisk people up to the top so that they could take some pictures of themselves in the snow with the Pico Bolivar behind, and then come straight down again,” engineers told teleSUR earlier this year.
Now, the new stations function as stand alone tourism hubs. According to the tourism ministry, each stop offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking and bird watching. The ambitious can even climb from the final platform to the summit of Pico Bolivar.