Skiing is not a vacation type that one normally associates with South America, but there are in fact many excellent skiing and snowboarding opportunities, the best being in Argentina and Chile. South America’s ski season lasts during the winter months of mid-June to October - here’s a short skiing guide for those planning a ski vacation to South America.
Argentina’s best ski resort is that of Bariloche in Patagonia, Argentina’s Lake District (Bariloche is also a great hiking detination during the summer months). The nearby ski area is known as Gran Catedral, and is under 10 miles from Bariloche town. Bariloche offers a range of wide runs suitable for all types of standards and the authorities are in the process of replacing the many drag lifts with more relaxing chair lifts. Bariloche has 100km of runs and 40 ski lifts in total.
Also in Argentina, Las Lenas ski resort is a suitable alternative used by many ski professionals. The resort is suitable for all standards, though here one finds some more challenging runs than at Bariloche. The ski area has some 35 miles of runs in total and 11 lifts and the resort offers some of the best powder skiing in South America. Las Lenas is quite a small resort (the town can accommodate up to 2500 guests) and so runs and ski lift queues are rarely crowded.
Chile also has a few very good ski resorts. Portillo is probably South America’s best known ski resort. At over 9000 ft you’ll need a day or two to acclimtize, but the snow is good and the scenery beautiful. Portillo is suitable for all standards of skiiers (and snowboarders of course) and is just two hours drive from Chile’s capital Santiago.
Chile’s Valle Nevado has 25 well groomed ski runs and modern facilities. Lift links to nearby resorts of La Parva and El Colorado make this South America’s largest skiing area. Valle Nevado is just 30 miles from Santiago airport and is popular with day trippers from the capital.
Termas de Chillan, near Concepcion (Southern Chile), has skiing opportunities for all standards, plus the added bonus of nearby hot springs. Nearby to Chillan are the smaller ski resorts of La Burbuja and El Mirador. Other less well known ski resorts in Chile include Sewell and Farellones.
Bolivia also has a famous ski resort, Chacaltaya, but there are few runs and the amenities are pretty poor.