Extend The North American Ski Season In Chile

Portillo Ski Center, Chile
Portillo Ski Center

If you’re anything like me, North America’s ski season from December to March just isn’t enough.  This is especially true since I discovered that you can extend the season by skiing in Chile, which is known for its Andean Mountains, cuisine, and world class wine.

In Chile, the typical ski season runs from the beginning of June until September.  One difference that visitors may notice, specifically those traveling from North America, is that the mountains here are often much higher in altitude with the base of the mountain lying approximately 3,000 meters above sea level (over 9,000 feet).

Activity at this altitude takes time to get use to so it’s recommended to take it easy the first day in order to acclimatize.  Don’t be surprised if you find yourself more fatigued then you would normally be after a day of hitting the slopes, but don’t worry about it either.  This is South America, go slow, kick back and enjoy a glass of wine.

The most popular hub for skiers in Chile is the capital city Santiago.  This is due to the fact that within two hours, you can reach several of the most popular ski resorts in the country, including Valle Nevado, Portillo, El Colorado, and La Parva with Valle Nevado being the biggest and most popular.  All of these resorts can be accessed from Santiago by shuttle-bus or by renting a car.  Traffic isn’t too congested in Santiago compared to other more populated South American cities.

It can be quite expensive to stay in the hotels and resorts on the mountains, and for travellers looking to experience a bit of Chilean culture and cuisine, I recommend spending your evenings in Santiago.  A great way to mix up your ski vacation in Santiago is by adding a tour of some of the nearby wineries.  Chile is famous for it’s wine, and just outside of Santiago you can explore the Maipo Valley, a world class wine region surrounded by the Andes mountains.  Here you will find a number of small locally owned wineries as well as the world renowned Concha Y Toro vineyard.  A day visiting the wineries paired with some local chilean food is a fantastic way to sooth the aches and pains from a hard day on the slopes.

If you are looking to extend the North American ski season, consider visiting Chile, with numerous ski resorts and world class wineries easily accessible from its metropolitan capital city of Santiago.