Snowfall was extremely unpredictable in Chile this year. Despite the cold found in the central and southern zones over the last several months, the queen of the ski centers delayed its opening more than usual. However, before the middle of the year, the high summits and the mountainsides of the Andes were snow capped.
About a third of the approximately US$ 2 million that tourism generates in the country yearly comes from winter season business. That is the reason why there were high expectations for the inauguration of the ski season when it officially opened on July 22.
With an excellent lodging offer, the most modern technology and equipment to rent, businesspeople of the area carried out investments for about US$ 10 million in the seven principal resorts, hoping to receive similar number of visitors than in 2008, ie, about 500 thousand people according to the estimations of the sector.
The action starts
The first tourists to enjoy the virgin snow this year were the ones that went up to Valle Nevado Ski Resort. This valley offers the biggest surface of the southern hemisphere, and it is located 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the international airport of Santiago. It has about 9.000 hectares (more than 22.000 acres). The site boasts three Hotels, apartments, 8 restaurants, pubs, a heated pool, fitness center, gym, nursery and a wide variety of stores.
In this ski center, the bet is for a moderate increase of visitors, reaching 150 thousand tourists. “This amount is predicted to be 55% national skiers, 30% Brazilians, 10% Americans and 4 % Argentineans, among other nationalities. We have taken great care to improve our runs and hotels” explains, Ricardo Mergulis the general manager.
It is possible to get there from El Colorado – Farellones ski area, which is also connected to La Parva thanks to the interconnection of the three Andean valleys, offering the greatest skiable surface of South America with a network of 45 chair lifts and pulleys and an integrated slope system of more than 100 kilometers (62 miles).
Fabres, the new valley for freeskiing, will be able to welcome the World Freeskiing Tour in September, thanks to the implementation of 100 hectares. It is also possible to have a good time in some places near Santiago such as Portillo, where the pool was remodeled and a new 80 meters of “carpet” for beginners was bought. Lagunillas is located to the south-east of Santiago in a zone called Cajón del Maipo and Chapa Verde in Rancagua.
The mountain resort Termas de Chillán, located in the mountain range of the city with the same name, Chillán, is 400 kilometers (248 miles) north of Santiago. This area doubled its capacity of one of its hotels and implemented a snow park and a bar near the slopes. Furthermore, it has the longest run of the region, 7 kilometers long (4,3 miles).
The winter complex Araucarias, located 80 kilometers from Temuco in the national park Conguillío, and at the mountainside of the Llaima volcano, offers its almost 10.000 annual visitors 350 hectares of land at 1950 meters above sea level. The mountain resort Corralco is in the same zone and near the national Malalcahuello reserve.
Pucón not only means triathlon and Villarrica lake beaches. After 20 minutes driving from the center of the city, ascending for the hillside of the Villarrica volcano, it is possible to find an attractive ski center adapted for practicing snowboard as well.
Going south, another option is Ski Antillanca, located to the east of Osorno in Puyehue national park. In the land of Patagonia, the alternatives are motorcycles and a new slide in the Snowpark of Huilo Huilo Reserve; El Fraile, in the vicinity of Coyhaique forest of native species; and Andean Club, minutes from the southern Punta Arenas, and one of the few places on earth where you can ski overlooking the sea.
More information in Sernatur.