Amid the beauty and peace of the Andes Range, the white landscape is much more than a pretty backdrop for the city of Santiago. Chile is without any doubt an ideal place to skibecause of its geography, climate and first-rate infrastructure. You can find modern ski centers just a short distance from Santiago and, farther to the south, the longest run in Latin America.
The skiing season in Chile extends from June to October, i.e. when there is little snow in the northern hemisphere. During this period it is possible to find tourist packages offering lodging, rental of ski equipment and also many other activities to enjoy in the snow, such as snowboarding and trekking.
And although there are a variety of ski runs throughout Chile, most of the more salient ones are near the capital. According to the Revista del Domingo magazine and Chileanski.com, the main skiing centers are Farellones and El Colorado, La Parva, Valle Nevado, Portillo and Termas de Chillán. Each has different characteristics and caters to a different public depending on the level of skill they possess and their interests.
Main skiing centers:
One of its greatest advantages is that it is the nearest skiing center to Santiago, where you can be enjoying snow sportsjust 45 minutes after leaving town.
The Farellones complex has a total of four rope tow lifts, and also offers the possibility of training in a ski school. But if the idea is to have a pleasant outing with your family, the sector also has restaurants, lodges and hotels with an unforgettable view.
This year the area underwent a change that surprised its more frequent visitors: it was extensively remodelled, leading to the inauguration of the first mountain park in the Santiago area. This offers a variety of adrenalin-packed activities such as climbing, mountain biking, trekking, paintball, mountain cars, in addition to practicing the more classic winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding.
Farellones recently had another improvement to offer its visitors. The Ministry of Public Works, together with the Municipality of Lo Barnechea, began to remodel the routes, installing new asphalt on the roads and better signalling to make the journey easier for tourists.
El Colorado, in turn, is undoubtedly one of the best ski centers in Chile. Andrés Ferrer, from the Skitotal shop, explains that El Colorado is preferred by visitors because it has “steep slopes, the best personalized attention and a large variety of services for tourists.”
In addition to its renowned 22 ski slopes, 18 lifts and excellent quality of snow, El Colorado constitutes a perfect meeting place for its visitors. The so-called “parador” (inn) for this ski center is a building offering all kinds of services. You can find everything you need in terms of clothes and equipment for practicing snow sports, both for rent or sale. It also has a pub, a restaurant serving international food, lockers, a cafeteria to relax and watch the sunset and even a handy ski-school for children, where they can learn to master their first turns in the snow.
The glow of the sun on its admirable snowy peaks make La Parva a preferred destination both for Chileans and tourists.
The singularity of its 38 km of ski slopes is that from the base of this sophisticated winter resort you can enjoy a panoramic view of the entire valley of Santiago.
La Parva also has great diversity in its slopes, with gradients that range from 2.5 to 412 m. Another advantage of this center is that, by buying a special ticket, skiers can cross over to Valle Nevado.
Considered the largest and most modern ski center in Latin America, Valle Nevado is fully equipped for snow sports. Its wide runs and the natural beauty of its surroundings make it a favorite for many visitors.
At the “Ski El Colorado” tourist company, Juan Pablo Fuenzalida, in charge of transporting tourists from Santiago to the different ski areas, considers that the top center is “Valle Nevado, because in my opinion it offers the best conditions of the central zone of the country. It has a greater number of runs and good snow from the beginning to the end of the season. La Parva has very good runs but the quality of its snow is not as good as Valle Nevado, which meets all the requirements.”
If you want to experience true adventure in snow heaven, this is the right spot for you.
Portillo is the oldest and -for the same reason- most prestigious ski center in Chile. It is renowned far beyond just Latin America. Being the highest ski resort, it is the nestled in the Andes mountains, at an altitude of 2,852 m above sea level.
Due to its elevation, this great ski resort has excellent slopes and is a favorite among the more skilled and experienced skiers.
But Portillo is not only for sports. You can also enjoy the finest cuisine at the famous Gran Hotel Portillo, a large luxury hotel that is a landmark you can spot at a distance when approaching the area.
Visitors call it “the Portillo experience”, because to stay at this hotel is to live a magic moment in the middle of the snow.
405 km south of Santiago, via Route 5 (Pan American highway), is the city of Chillán, in the region of Bío Bío. Traveling by road 82 km from Chillán toward the Andes Range amid abundant and green forests, you reach this spectacular ski center that offers a wide range of slopes that can be enjoyed by beginners and experts alike.
The Termas de Chillán center has 28 perfectly groomed ski slopes. Its nine lifts give visitors the wonderful opportunity to view the native forests of Chillán from above and enjoy the scenery while getting to their destination.
But that isn’t all. This center has the longest ski run in Latin America: “Las Tres Marías” is 19 km long. And apart from snow sports, visitors can also enjoy bathing in thermal waters in an indoor/outdoor swimming pool in the midst of the snowy landscape.
This post is also available in Spanish