How to Ski Chile
Many have dreamed of skiing the summer months in Chile but few know how to go about it or even where to go. We’re here to make it simple. There are only three things you need to know to have a world-class holiday and Ski Chile.
1. Chile is not just for skiing.
Chile’s narrow landscape borders the Western shores of South America. On one side is 3,000 miles of Pacific coastline. On the other are the majestic peaks of the Andes mountains. To the South is the unspoiled and windswept wilderness of Patagonia. In the North is the otherworldly emptiness of the Atacama Desert. In between, you’ll find all the wonders of nature on display. You’ll find everything from stone crushing glaciers to natural hot springs surrounding active volcanoes, stone temples of Torres del Paine National Park, the dark sand surf beaches of Pichilemu, and the wonders of Easter Island. Chile is more than just a skier’s summer escape, it’s a nature lover’s paradise.
Chile is also home to the cosmopolitan set. Foodies and wine lovers will find Valparaiso and the capital of Santiago to be at the very center of Chilean culture. Pablo Neruda, poet and Chilean national treasure, drew his inspiration from surroundings of these two great cities.
“Here I came to the very edge where nothing at all needs saying…and every day on the balcony of the sea wings open fire is born and everything is blue again like morning.”
No visit to Chile would be complete without a tour of Santiago and a sampling of its food, wine, and culture.
2. Chile’s seasons are the reverse of those in North America
The North American Summer is Chile’s winter. This is why skiers and snowboarders from all around the world flock to the Chilean Andes from late June to early October. The best time to hit the slopes is from mid-July to late September. Most of the resorts are open by late June and the last two weeks of July are the South American student holidays, so resorts can be a bit busier. August through the middle of September draws more of the international crowd. In August, snow depth bases will be much higher and you’ll enjoy an abundance of powder days. Who knows—you might even end up rubbing elbows with a pro skier or snowboarder while you’re on the lift or hanging out at one of the many apres ski spots.
Where to go
Portillo is The Iconic Chilean Ski Resort. Famous for its epic ski runs and the fabulous poolside vista overlooking the Lake of the Incas, Portillo is Chile’s most well-known ski resort. Die-hard ski fans and Olympic/World Championship skiers flock here during the North American summer to catch some sun and ski Portillo’s world-famous terrain.
If you’ve never skied in South American, Valle Nevado in Chile is the best place to start. It is the newest and biggest of all the resorts. There are trails and conditions to match every skill level—from little kids just starting out to experts looking to extend their ski season. Also, the accommodations and cuisine are world class. Everything you need is centrally located—lifts, ski school, restaurants, bars, fitness center, pools, daycare, spa—it’s all right there. This is the place you’ll start comparing all other ski vacations to.
Nevados de Chillan is nestled in between three active volcanos. It is famous for its off-piste skiing, natural hot springs, and incredible views. Although Nevados de Chillán is not as well known as Portillo or Valle Nevado, it stands out as one of the best all-around resorts in Chile. There are plenty of groomed runs and wide open areas for beginners but it’s the unique undulating terrain—left by ancient lava rivers—that makes this place special. Big bowls, fun drop-offs, powdery steeps, and half-pipes are all part of the natural terrain here in Chillán.
3. You need at least a week (more like 8-10 days)
Skiing Chile is not just something you do on a lark (unless you live in Chile). If you’re flying all the way down to South America, you need to actually spend some time there. You won’t get the full experience over a long weekend at a ski resort. Even if you tell yourself you’re just going there to ski, by the time you get on the plane to leave you’ll be wishing you could stay longer.
Go ahead and take a week—maybe even two. You can try multiple resorts or even squeeze in a day of heli-skiing (did we mention they have heli-skiing?). Spend a few days in Santiago. Take in the city and get a sense of the tastes, the sounds, and the people that make Chile a unique experience. You won’t be disappointed!
Last Bit of Advice
Planning a whirlwind tour to multiple locations and juggling several tour operators in multiple time zones and currencies (not to mention languages) is a lot of work. Trust us, we know. So, if you’ve only got a week to 10 days and you want to see and do as much as possible, go for a travel package.
Booking a travel package is one of the best ways to pack everything into a week’s worth of travel. Travel packages take all the guesswork out of traveling and provide you with more time for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. A travel package provides an itinerary for you to follow. It will take you from the airport to your hotel, get you on tours of the city in the morning, and have you sipping wine at a vineyard in the afternoon. They will include transfers to a ski resort of your choice and arrange for lift tickets, ski/snowboard rentals, and excursions of your choice. They also offer one other important benefit, a person to reach out to should anything go wrong. Our travel packages include on-ground support, no matter where the destination is you are visiting.