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Skiing in Chile: Best Places to Go

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When people think ‘skiing’ they often think of the Alps in Europe or the Rockies in the USA, but there is a lesser known gem in South America just waiting for snow bunnies. Chile boasts more than 10 world class ski resorts sprinkled north to south through the Andes Mountains, with the large majority concentrated around Santiago. Every year more and more skiers learn about the wonders of skiing in Chile, increasing the popularity of this hidden gem. This year Chile is expecting to see 1.4 million skiers hit their ski slopes due to its incredible snow, slopes for all skill levels and outstanding accommodations. This adventure destination will have you alpine, heli-skiing, freestyling and backcountry skiing through the iconic Andes Mountains, at amazing resorts, and over volcanos. 

Ski Chile July through September to take advantage of the deeper snow and longer days of the southern hemisphere winter. So when the summer heat gets too much for you, grab your skis and cool off in Chile. Below we are highlighting some of the best ski destinations in Chile for you (in no particular order):

1. Ski Valle Nevado

Less than an hour from Santiago is the oldest South American ski resort, Valle Nevado.  This massive, modern resort will not disappoint as the snow here is amazing. Valle Nevado is part of the Three Valleys that also include La Parva and Colorado - all popular destinations to ski Chile. At Valle Nevado you ski Chile’s “local mountain” between 2743 to 3657 meters on their 44 runs (ski slopes). Be sure to strategically plan your arrival and departure to this ski spot as the last 8 miles up the mountain is a one way road that only runs traffic up in the morning and down in the afternoon. Once you make it to the top, the journey, variety of ski in and out hotels, and the 45 kilometers of open runs will make your ski dreams come true!

  • Location: 56 km east of Santiago
  • Difficulty Level: Runs for all ski levels
  • How to Get There: Fly into Santiago and either rent a car to drive to Valle Nevado or take a taxi.
  • Hours of Operation: 9:00 - 16:00

2. Ski Portillo

Skiing in Portillo, Chile
A snowboarder sprays snow as he rides down a ski slope in Portillo

Located in the beautiful Valparaíso Region above the tree line and on the beautiful Laguna del Inca, Ski Resort Portillo provides the all-inclusive ski experience for expert skiers. Just two hours northeast of Santiago, this resort is often considered the best in South America.  So if you have limited time to ski Chile but the skills to ride these slopes, then definitely head to Portillo. Since it is all-inclusive be prepared to book a 3-4 night mini-week or a Saturday to Saturday Ski Week that includes lodging, meals, lift tickets and sometimes lessons and rentals. Between the 14 lifts designed especially for these slopes and the heli-ski option for the extra adventurous, you’re sure to enjoy your Chilean ski trip in Portillo.

  • Location: 147 km northeast of Santiago
  • Difficulty Level: Advanced
  • How to Get There: Fly into Santiago and either rent a car to drive to Portillo or take a taxi
  • Hours of Operation: 9:00 - 16:30

3. Ski Arpa

Try something different at Ski Arpa where you ride a snowcat to the top of your run in the Andes. A two hour drive from Santiago will take you to this more remote location where you’ll need a 4-wheel vehicle to get you up the unpaved road. It may be a journey to get there, but it’s well worth it.  As you ride your snowcat to the 3810 meter summit you’ll love the views of the Pacific Ocean and the amazing Cerro Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Americas.  If you’d prefer to go out on your own, Ski Arpa has a backcountry ski pass that allows you to adventure your own way.  Regardless of how you choose to spend your day, Ski Arpa provides a unique Chile skiing experience for those 18 years old and above who are willing to brave the journey. Do ensure a reservation for yourself before you head there!

  • Location: 108 km north of Santiago
  • Difficulty Level: Intermediate
  • How to Get There: Fly into Santiago and either rent a car (make sure it has 4WD!) to drive to Ski Arpa.
  • Hours of Operation: 9:30 onwards

4. Ski Volcan Osorno

Ski in Osorno Volcano
The Osorno Volcano ski field boasts 12 trails and a snow park

When skiing a typical mountain isn’t enough, head over to Volcan Osorno where you can ski on a volcano! Volcan Osorno takes skiers to a less explored region of Chile in the south. Just a quick flight from Santiago, you’ll be skiing and relaxing in the beautiful lake district of the Andean foothills. While there are many nearby towns to stay in, the preferred town is Puerto Varas, an hour from the volcano.  While that may sound far, this experience is worth the travel.  Enjoy the 12 runs at 2,652 meters that are perfect for skiers of all levels. 

  • Location: 56 km east of Santiago
  • Difficulty Level: Runs for all ski levels
  • How to Get There: Fly from Santiago to Puerto Montt and drive 1 hour and 30 minutes northeast to Volcan Osorno or stop at your accommodation in Puerto Varas on the way, just 22 minutes from Puerto Montt.
  • Hours of Operation: 9:00 - 16:00

5. Ski Villarrica Volcano

Skiing in Villarrica Volcano
The chairlifts at Villarrica take you to the ski field

The Villarrica Volcano, best known for its frequent outbursts may not be the most sought after ski destination in Chile, but that doesn't mean it should be ignored. With 17 runs, the ski center located in Villarrica by the name Ski Pucón isn’t big but it will tick off the 'thrill' element you are looking for. The ski field is perfect for beginners, with some opportunities for experienced skiers to go off-piste, and the fact that it is located on an active volcano will keep most thrill-seekers' heartbeat racing.

  • Location: 20 km south to Pucon
  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • How to Get There: Fly from Santiago to Temuco. Villarrica is an hour's drive away on a taxi. You can also head straight to Pucon - your accommodation base, which is half an hour away from Villarrica and then come back for the action. 
  • Hours of Operation: 9:00 - 17:00

There’s something for everyone when you’re skiing in Chile, whether that be your classic mountain run for beginners, skiing across a volcano or even dropping from a helicopter into the Andes Mountains for the perfect run. You’ll leave Chile with a ski burn you’ve earned and a permanent smile from unmatched adventure. Among the many things to do in Chile, do include skiing in your travel plans as well. The amazing mountains and snow of Chile are calling you!

For the adrenaline seekers, the good news is that skiing is only one of the many adventure activities in Chile.   

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