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Skiing in Chile

Distributed along the national territory, between the Valparaiso region (in the center of the country) and Magallanes (in the extreme south), Chile offers some of the best skiing and winter entertainment in the southern hemisphere. Although there are 18 ski resorts in operation across the country, 6 of them offer the best infrastructure and attract almost all of the tourists, curious people and winter sports fans: Valle Nevado, La Parva, El Colorado, Portillo, Nevados de Chillán and Pucón.

The first three are located in the Metropolitan Region, about 1 hour away from Santiago’s heart. They share a large common ski area (each resort being responsible for a specific sector) and it is possible to use the capital or any one of them as a lodging base while experiencing the different terrains during a stay. Portillo is slightly northwards, but still close enough to Santiago to use it as a base, if you want. Chillán and Pucón are further south.

Valle Nevado

The largest ski resort in the southern hemisphere and the most modern one in the country, Valle Nevado is the first name most foreigners immediately link to the idea of skiing or simply seeing snow in Chile. Opened in 1988, it forms, together with El Colorado and La Parva, a ski domain greater than 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) featuring 107km (66mi) of trails/slopes.

  • Distance from Santiago: 60km (37mi)
  • Distance from Viña del Mar: 190km (118mi)
  • Maximum altitude: 3,670m (12,040ft)
  • Vertical drop: 810m (2,655ft)
  • Ski-lifts: 14
  • Trails: 47 (40km, 25mi, in total)
  • Snowpark: 1
  • Terrain: beginner (10%), intermediate (36%), advanced (33%) and expert (21%)
Valle Nevado, Chile
Valle Nevado

El Colorado

Possibly the most popular ski resort among Chileans, El Colorado is a complex formed by two interconnected ski centers: Farellones in the lower grounds of the hill, more traditional and with a simpler infrastructure, and El Colorado per se, modern, in the middle and high altitude sectors.

  • Distance from Santiago: 50km (30mi)
  • Distance from Viña del Mar: 180km (110mi)
  • Maximum altitude: 3,333m (10,935ft)
  • Vertical drop: 903m (2,962ft)
  • Ski-lifts: 18
  • Trails: 22
Camino a Farellones, Chile
Camino a Farellones

La Parva

La Parva is one of the main ski resorts close to Santiago. Its development initiated in 1950’s and today, more than a winter resort, La Parva is a small and charming mountain village, with houses, apartment buildings, stores and restaurants. From its ski domain it is possible to see the national capital in the valley below it; a particularly wonderful sight at sunset.

  • Distance from Santiago: 50km (30mi)
  • Distance from Viña del Mar: 180km (110mi)
  • Maximum altitude: 3,574m (11,725ft)
  • Vertical drop: 921m (3,020ft)
  • Ski-lifts: 15
  • Trails: 48 (40km, 25mi, in total)
  • Snowparks: 2
  • Terrain: beginner (15%), intermediate (15%), advanced (43%) and expert (27%)
La Parva, Chile
La Parva

Portillo

This is the oldest ski resort in South America. Its origins date back to the construction of the trans- Andean railroad, opened in 1910, when the train itself on its way to Argentina was used to lift skiers. Portillo kept evolving with time: its hotel opened in 1949 and in 1966 the resort hosted the Ski World Championships, an event that accelerated the development of the area.

Today, Portillo is considered to be one of the best resorts in the continent, attracting the Olympic teams of several countries during the northern hemisphere summer. Around here there are still not that many lines to board the ski-lifts and the meals at the hotel still are social events for the guests.

  • Distance from Santiago: 164km (102mi)
  • Distance from Viña del Mar: 190km (118mi)
  • Maximum altitude: 3,310m (10,860ft)
  • Vertical drop: 762m (2,500ft)
  • Ski-lifts: 14
  • Trails: 35
  • Largest trail: 2,456m (8,057ft)
  • Terrain: beginner (15%), intermediate (30%), advanced (30%) and expert (25%)
Laguna del Inca - Portillo, Chile
Laguna del Inca - Portillo

Nevados de Chillán

An excellent mix between the adrenaline caused by winter sports and the relaxation allowed by its hot springs, Nevados de Chillán is another resort in the list of the best in Chile. Offering the largest slope of the continent, 13km (8mi) long, the relatively low altitude of Chilán lets visitors ski among the woods, in a much more exuberant natural setting than the most famous resorts around Santiago. For those not willing to stay at the main hotel, a nice alternative is to look for lodging at the Las Trancas Valley, a few kilometers away from the ski area, where a wide offer of chalets and cabins are available for rental.

In order to get here, you can fly to Santiago or Concepción and then take a bus, train or drive to the city of Chillán. From there it will be another 80km (50mi) to the resort.

  • Distance from Santiago: 407km (253mi - 5 to 6h)
  • Distance from Concepción: 194km (120mi – 2h30)
  • Maximum altitude: 2,400m (7,875ft)
  • Vertical drop: 870m (2,855ft)
  • Ski-lifts: 11
  • Trails: 32 (30km, 19mi, in total)
  • Terrain: beginner (30%), intermediate (40%) and advanced (30%)
Nevados de Chillán, Chile
Nevados de Chillán

Pucón

Offering a fairly less developed infrastructure than the other ski resorts mentioned above, Pucón deserves a spot in the list of best Chilean ski resorts due to its other characteristics. Here it is possible to ski on the slopes of an active volcano, the Villarica, at a relatively low altitude. Besides, the sights from the trails are amazing, allowing views to the Villarica Lake, besides a few others found next to the volcano. Finally, the proximity between the slopes and downtown Pucón is a great advantage: only 20 minutes separates an ample lodging and gastronomic offer from the snow. Besides, the area around Pucón also offers other attractions, including rafting, horse riding and hot springs.

The easiest way to reach Pucón is taking a flight directly from Santiago to the local airport, although this is only possible during the high season. Alternatively, you can fly to Temuco and then continue by regular bus or rented car.

  • Distance from Santiago: 810km (503mi)
  • Distance from Temuco: 120km (75mi)
  • Maximum altitude: 1,600m (5,550ft)
  • Vertical drop: 400m (1,312ft)
  • Ski-lifts: 6
  • Trails: 20
  • Terrain: mostly beginner or intermediate.
Ski en el Volcán Villarica - Pucón
Volcán Villarica - Pucón
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