For avid fans of snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports, heading to the slopes of Chile makes a cool retreat in the heat of the summer.
Chile is one of the Southern Hemisphere’s top winter sports destinations, and where numerous professional teams train during the northern hemisphere summer. The country is renowned for the superior level of its slopes in the majestic Andes and can be a winter enthusiast’s paradise. Due to the diversity of the slopes as well as the quality of their snow, winter sports in Chile make for a spectacular vacation during our summer months. The snowshoe/ski season in Chile begins in June and ends in late September. In some Nordic centers located further south in Patagonia, the season extends through to October.
Some of Chile’s premier resorts and centers include the following:
Located just 37 miles east of Santiago, at Valle Nevado ski resort, winter sports enthusiasts can feel the power of the Andes Mountains. Valle Nevado is characterized by ample and user-friendly slopes, located about 9,800 feet above sea level, making it ideal for an exciting day of skiing and snowboarding. With 41 well groomed runs over 7000 acres of terrain, Valle Nevado is Chile’s and South America’s largest ski resort but without the big crowds and long lift lines. For those looking to pump up their adrenaline, Valle Nevado offers heli-skiing in places where ski lifts cannot access and skiers and snowboarders alike can enjoy the best and untouched snow. There is also a terrain park and plenty of off-piste runs in addition to the 23 miles of groomed runs. This world renowned resort has been stylishly renovated in 2010 and offers three hotels for all budgets, private apartments, seven restaurants, a full-service spa and fitness center, movie theater, library, bars and lounges, a pub with live music, combined with breathtaking views of the Andes. Two new lifts and five new runs have also been added. Valle Nevado will also sport South America’s first gondola, scheduled to be operational in 2011.
Located in a narrow pass of the Andes and known to be the oldest, most beautiful and famous ski resort in Chile, Portillo can accommodate up to 400 guests. And with roughly 450 employees on staff, guests are guaranteed to be well taken care of. One of Portillo’s many unique characteristics is the famous Laguna del Inca, whose scenic beauty rivals that of the Patagonian fjords. Portillo’s wide variety of trails, 23 in total, offer something for everyone. For those looking for more of an adrenaline rush, Portillo also offers heli-skiing. From July 31 to August 8, Portillo will be celebrating Chile’s most world renowned wines during its Fourth Annual Chilean Wine Week. Guests will have the luxury of experiencing Chilean wines from the best vineyards at no extra cost.
Nevados de Chillán
Located in Chile’s Lakes and Volcanoes region, three volcanoes, Nuevo, Viejo, and Nevado make up the ski resort of Nevados de Chillán. In addition to the center’s 28 slopes where skiers and snowboarders can shred, Nevados de Chillán is home to the longest trail in South America, Las Tres Marias, a four mile long run. For alternative activities, this resort has a circuit for Nordic skiing, another for snowmobiling, a renovated snow park, and snow tubing. For those passionate about tree runs, Nevados de Chillan offers superior tree trails in the most scenic environment. Travelers can opt to stay at Hotel Nevados de Chillán Termas and Spa, located next to the ski resort. The hotels complex includes nine swimming pools of hot spring water, spa centers, Jacuzzi and baths with sulfur vapor, travelers staying here can relax their sore muscles after a full day on the slopes.
Situated 495 miles south of Santiago in the Lakes and Volcanoes region on the shores of Lake Villarrica, Pucón is known for its natural half pipes and canyons. Pucón is the site of a magnificent, active volcano that is continuously smoking. The center features 20 well groomed runs and breathtaking views of the five surrounding lakes, making this an unforgettable experience. Depending on the amount of snow fall, one can find quality snow in some of the higher parts into the month of October, making it possible to ski or snowboard later in the season. Visitors to Pucon can bask in the immensity of the region’s natural beauty by climbing the Villarrica Volcano, an active volcano, and visiting the three neighboring national parks and vast extensions of rainforest. The area’s thermal baths are the perfect complement to a full day on the slopes. Lodging options nearby include Hotel Antumalal where guests can enjoy the spa and restaurant after a day of outdoor fun.
The southern most ski center in Chile is Cerro Mirador. Located 15 minutes from Punta Arenas in Patagonia, Cerro Mirador boasts an impressive view of the Magellan Straits and Tierra del Fuego. Small and cozy, Cerro Mirador offers 14 runs, some of them double black diamond for expert skiers looking for a challenge. Travelers can stay at Hotel Rey Don Felipe, a five star property offering 45 rooms and a restaurant.
Looking to relax after a long day of hitting the slopes? Many of Chile’s resorts boast spas, gyms and outdoor swimming pools where guests can enjoy different treatments, massages, swimming, and other recreational activities. In the area of each ski resort, guests can find restaurants, pubs, and clubs where skiers and boarders can wind down from the day’s exhilarating activities.
Additional information on Chile is available at http://www.visit-chile.org.