Seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, which means that you can ski fresh Andean powder from mid-June to late-October. Because most southern-cone storm systems form in the Pacific and travel east, South America's best snow falls on the Chilean side of the Andes. Chile has more that a dozen ski resorts, welcoming skiers and snowboarders (selectively) from June to early November. Our favorite Ski Chile options include:
Portillo is South America's oldest and most famous ski destination. Since its 1949 inauguration, Portillo has hosted alpine championship events and served as a training base for the US, Austrian, and Italian ski teams. The mountain is known for its challenging, treeless terrain and off-slope camaraderie. The runs are 55% advanced / expert, but newcomers are encouraged and private lessons are available. Snowboarding is permitted. The base altitude is 9,448 FASL, and the highes peak reaches 10,930 FASL.
Portillo operates on a Saturday-to-Saturday program; meals, lift tickets, and round-trip transfers—two hours or 102 miles from Santiago—are included in most packages. Forget about heading into town for shopping and gallery strolls; the big, yellow Hotel Portillo is the hub of all après action. Hotel amenities include lake views, a heated pool, hot tub, sauna, bar, restaurant, gym, and game room. With 450 resort employees and a maximum of 400 guests, you'll be well cared for.
When it comes to accessibility and family-friendliness, no other South American ski resort compares to Valle Nevado. Located just 35 miles from Santiago, the resort encompasses 23,000 skiable acres on three mountains. Amenities include high-speed lifts, a multi-lingual ski school, a snowboard half-pipe, and eight restaurants. Inter-resort passes allow access to the neighboring slopes at La Parva and El Colorado.
The base has three hotels: the deluxe, 53-room Hotel Valle Nevado; the family friendly, 124-room Hotel Puerta del Sol; and the cozy, 91-room Hotel Tres Puntas. Package options are three-night (Tuesday to Friday), four-night (Friday to Tuesday), and seven-night (Friday to Friday).
Termas de Chillan
Five hours or 252 miles south of Santiago, Termas de Chillan spreads out beneath the 10,535-foot Chillan Volcano. The volcano's pine-cloaked slopes provide 3,600 feet of vertical drop as well as the geothermal heat for the area's famous springs.
The resort's geography offers something for everyone; the 28 runs are 30% beginner, 40% intermediate-advanced, and 30% expert. Las Tres Maria's, a sweeping 8-miler, is the longest run in South America. Skiers and snowboarders (in off-piste sections) are welcome, and the resort operates a friendly, multi-lingual ski school. Dogsledding, night skiing, snow paintball, and snowmobiling round out the winter offerings. In summer, the resort hosts mountain bikers, hikers, and rock climbers.
Temas de Chillan's two best lodging options are the 100-room Gran Hotel and the more basic, 26-room Pirimahuida Hotel. Hotel amenities include indoor and outdoor pools, spa services, five restaurants, and a casino.
Snowcat & Heli-skiing
If your time in Santiago is limited, you can still enjoy the thrill of steep verticals, wide-open slopes, and rugged Andean scenery. Snowcat skiing (up to 12,000 FASL) and heli-skiing day trips can be arranged from the capital. Full-day and overnight options are available.
Nomads of the Seas
Nomads of the Seas offer luxury adventure cruises along Chile's lush Patagonian Coast. The company's flagship is Atmosphere, an elegant 150-foot motor yacht with only 14 guest cabins (maximum of 28 passengers). Each day aboard Atmosphere is unique and different. Daily tour options include river and sea kayaking, whale and dolphin watching, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, jet boating, aerial sightseeing, and hiking (including helicopter airlifts). Heli-skiing trips are offered from mid-September through November. Atmosphere is equipped with two Bell 407 helicopters, zodiacs, drift boats and an assortment of other watercraft.
Mosaico Travel Services arranges vacations throughout Chile's ski regions. The Chilean ski season conincides with the best times to visit Machu Picchu, Easter Island, the Atacama Desert, and many other locations in Peru and Chile. We organize luxury accommodation, private transportation, and tours with expert guides. Speak with a Mosaico travel planner today at 801.582.2100. We’ll take care of the details.
"The sensual caress of waist deep cold smoke...glory in skiing virgin snow, in being the first to mark the powder with the signature of their run."