Summertime in North America marks the beginning of winter season in other parts of the world.
The South American continent is the best summer destination for die-hard skiers and snowboard lovers looking for a never-ending winter.
Thanks to the gorgeous and towering Andes mountains, Argentina and Chile is a skiing paradise from June to October.
If you’re thinking of skiing Argentina, some of the most popular resorts you should consider are Las Leñas, Cerro Catedral, Chapelco and Cerro Bayo.
Chile, on the other hand, boasts the premier resorts of Portillo, Valle Nevado, Parva, El Colorado and Nevados De Chillan.
Here are some facts should be highlighted first to help you plan your very first South American Skiing expedition.
Pros of the South America Skiing Scene
Although the region cannot offer resorts that can compete directly with some of the most popular European and North American ski resorts, South America offers a lot of unique experience aside from being able to ski when it is summer in every part of the world.
With tropical rainforests, magnificent beaches and islands, stunning granite towers, mysterious Polynesian statues as well as breathtaking Incan ruins are just some of the main attractions on this massive continent.
Stretching 4,500 miles along the entire western coast of South America, South America is also home to Andes, the longest mountain chain in the world.
Some of the tallest mountains on Earth can be found in the Andes. Due to the close proximity to the ocean, the weather dynamics is so, that the resorts perching mountains are frequently blessed with deep and dry powder due to wet and colder storms in the higher grounds.
The abundance of volcanoes and lakes there are also grounds for other exciting winter activities like ice climbing, hiking, and heli-skiing.
The economics for both Chile and Argentina currently provides a “friendly” exchange rates against the dollar. This incentivizes tourists for a great ski vacation at an affordable price.
People in Chile and Argentina are very friendly and their culture is one of the most colorful in the world.
Don’t expect to get to bed before 6am as nightclubs and bars are bustling with lots of friendly and party-loving locals and tourists throughout the night.
Cons of the South America Skiing Scene
Although the Andes is considered a winter wonderland, South America’s location and the regions surrounding the mountain range like the deserts and rainforests give several disadvantages.
One of the major challenges tourists encounter when visiting the regions is that the journey time within South America is longer compared to countries with well-developed transportation links.
And because the ski resorts are spread out over a vast geographical area, tourists with limited time can only visit just a couple of ski resorts.
Because of South America’s location on the equator and Andes’ proximity to the unpredictable Pacific Ocean, Andes is prone to unexpected bad weather too.
Storms often come and sit for a few days, leaving guests unable to enjoy the slopes or other outdoor activities.
The beauty of Andes hasn’t attracted much development around the ski areas yet, this means that some ski resorts have limited après ski spots or isolated hotels and bars. Guests may need to travel 1-2 hours to get access to the city’s bustling nightlife.
Some of the resorts’ ski lift systems are old and not setup up in the most visitor-friendly manner. This means that during peak season long lines is a norm for famous resorts.
Skiing in Argentina
High-quality travel experience with a very favorable currency exchange rate reaps many benefits for tourists visiting Argentina.
Enjoy mouth-watering steaks served with Argentinean wines after a day of skiing and still have enough budget to stay in a classy hotel and enjoy the Latin culture immersion.
There are over 15 skiing areas around the 2,300 miles of the Argentinian Andes. If you are going to Argentina this summer, we’ll explain why you must go skiing in Cerro Catedral.
Cerro Catedral is located in the vicinity of the busy township of San Carlos de Bariloche, the jewel of the Andean Lake district and the gateway city to Patagonia.
Cerro Catedral’s location is also one of the main reason this active metropolis is such an attractive ski destination for tourists from around the world.
One of the major attractions for skiers is the esteemed 5-star Hotel Llao Llao. This hotel has been ranked as one of the top ten most beautiful places on the planet by the National Geographic magazine.
More affordable accommodations and numerous on-mountain hotels and cabanas are also available for budget conscious travelers.
Cerro Catedral Stats
With over 2,965 acres of skiable terrain spread over three mountains, Cerro Catedral Ski resort is the largest and most developed ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere.
Averaging 6 meters of snow, there is a wide variety of powdered terrain available for skiers of all experience and expertise levels.
Overall, the resort has 50 marked pistes serviced by 38 ski lifts. Although 50% of the terrain is suitable for intermediates, the high altitude of the resort lets beginners learn how to ski while enjoying the scenic views at the base of the mountain (1,030m).
One of the longest trails in the resort, the 2.8 km ABC Sur is marked green and perfect for confident beginners.
60 km of the slopes are marked red for intermediates, 30 km black marked pistes and additional 10 km ski routes for experts.
Cerro Catedral has everything any pro skier can dream of, including huge cliff drops, steep couloirs and waist-deep powder overlooking the Andes Mountain and the lakes around it.
The resort also has access to an incredible amount of backcountry sweet spots that would take powder hounds months to explore.
Cerro Catedral ski resort has an on-slope mall which includes several restaurants and more than 20 hotels within walking distance from the main lifts.
Snow tubing, tobogganing, snowmobiling, quad bike tours are just some of the outdoor winter activities the resort offers.
For those looking for a serene and panoramic hike, the 4-hour trek to the famous and picturesque ‘Refugio Frey’ starts at the base of Catedral.
Cerro Catedral ski resort is only a ten-minute drive away from the city center or 20 minutes away from the upscale Llao Llao Hotel.
When the weather is not slope-friendly, guests can easily head to Bariloche and spend the day shopping, beer tasting, food shopping, nightclubbing or making friends at the bar while watching TV sports.
For those looking for a luxurious getaway, Llao Llao Golf-Spa offers relaxing indoor heated pools, spas and saunas, game rooms, live shows and lessons like painting, yoga and spinning.
Ski in Chile
Like Argentina, the skiing season in Chile lasts from mid-June until the end of October.
Aside from the inexpensive ski resorts, breathtaking views, and rich culture, Chile is most popular for its immense backcountry skiing terrain.
There are two main regions for skiing in Chile, the central region located at the steep and rugged Andes and the southern forested and volcanic region of the Lake District.
The Andes resorts are more popular among North American because of their proximity to Santiago, the food and wine capital of Chile.
A visit to the Lake District is also a great option for the adventurous as it offers a chance to ski volcanoes, hike majestic rainforests and relax on natural thermal baths.
There are at least 20 ski resorts in Chile but the best Chilean ski resort is most likely Valle Nevado de Las TresValles.
Valle Nevado de Las TresValles
Located at the heart of the Andes, 1-2 hour drive from Santiago, Valle Nevado is the highest ski resort in Chile.
Combined with La Parva and El Colorado ski resorts, the three ski resorts form the massive ski domain also known as Tres Valles.
The ski paradise offers around 7,000 acres of in-bound skiing terrain and additional 20,000 acres for heli-skiing.
Valle Nevado is one of the most visited resorts in Chile because of its numerous cozy accommodations, modern amenities, and its convenient location.
It also has the most advanced lift system in the region giving access to the highest slopes in Chile, located 3,600 meters above sea level.
The high altitude in addition to the sunny weather makes the skiing of superb quality. Valle Nevado receives 7 meters of snow annually, more snow than any other resorts in Chile.
Located above the tree line, the skiable area is wide open and provides enough terrain for all skier and snowboarder levels.
Valle Nevado ski resort is a paradise for intermediates and expert skiers. Aside from the fact that 70% of its pistes are marked for pro skiers, skiers can also enjoy the off-piste terrain filled with deep powder, natural half-pipes, gullies and back bowls.
The unlimited backcountry terrain surrounding the resort is also unparalleled and a main attraction for advanced skiers.
The hotels at the base of the resort offer a lot of activities and amenities not only for hard-core skiers but also to families traveling with kids. There are outside heated pools, game rooms, a movie theater and a snow garden for children.
Guests should not miss Valle Nevado’s special weeks including the Fun Week, Foodie’s Week and the most famous Chilean Wine Festival.
If you want to know more about Valle Nevado, click here.