Ski Chile, South America
Ski Chile at some of the great ski resorts perched up high in the majestic Andes mountain range. Chile is a great destination for a ski or snowboard holiday because you can combine powder skiing with an interesting culture.
Other than the skiing, Chile is also renowned for its weird shape – the long skinny country that spans 4,300km along the coast of South America and is 18 times longer than its widest point. It’s the land of startling diversity in regards to its geography and climate. From hot arid deserts in the north, to the chilly (OK, pun intended!) expanses of Patagonia in the south, it’s definitely the land of contrasts.
Chile Ski Resorts
Chile has at least 20 ski resorts located in the southern half of the country. The most northern resort is Portillo
, which is 164km northeast of Santiago
, and not far from the border of Argentina. Portillo ski resort is world renowned, and is recognized in photos by the distinctive yellow Hotel Portillo set amongst the magnificent backdrop of the snow covered Andes.
Also near Santiago
are the ski resorts in the Three Valleys (Tres Valles): the modern and massive world class Valle Nevado
, and the interconnected La Parva
, El Colorado
ski resorts. To the southeast of Santiago is little Lagunillas, a non-commercial ski resort. Nearby is Chapa Verde, 145km from Santiago.
About five hours south of Santiago near Chillan is Nevados de Chillan
(formerly known as Termas de Chillan), a hot springs resort that sits on two active volcanoes. Further south is the small family resort of Ski Pucon
on the Villarica Volcano. This ski resort is also situated on a volcano, and is popular with freestylers due to the natural half pipes formed by lava flows. Other southern resorts include Antillanca
(adjacent to Bariloche in Argentina) Antuco, Corralco
(on Lonquimay Volcano), Llaima, and El Fraile. And way down south is the Cerro Mirador Resort.
The lift systems at the Chile ski resorts are generally not very good, especially when compared to USA ski resorts
and skiing in Canada
. Undertake a good pre-season fitness regime, as your quads won’t get much rest on all those surface tows (although they will get a long rest on the slow chairlifts). The ski resorts nearer to Santiago have acceptable lift and facility infrastructure, whilst the more southern resorts have less infrastructure on offer. The upside of the lack of glitz is the lower cost. Another disadvantage for many of the southern resorts is that they are not well suited to the expert skier or boarder.
Skiing in Chile
The Andes is the second highest mountain range in the world, and it’s still rising. The summit of Aconcagua which is only 15km from the border of Chile, sits at 6,950 metres (22,841 feet). Thankfully the ski resorts aren’t as high, but those around Santiago still rise to around 3,650 metres. These elevations are fantastic for the views and snow quality, but are not quite so good for the ability to breathe for the first day or so.
These northern ski resorts are above the tree line, and as you move further south the elevations are lower which affords some tree skiing opportunities. Average annual snowfalls are generally around the 6-7 metre mark, except for Termas de Chillan
and Ski Pucon
that receive a bountiful 10 metres annually. The snowpack is coastal, so it’s reasonably stable, and considering the cool temperatures, the powder is reasonably dry. That being said, Chile ski resorts sometimes also suffer from horrendously icy conditions.
The weather can be very kind and provide lots of sunny days, but considering that many of the resorts are very exposed, nasty weather can close the resorts and access roads for days at a time. This may put a quick dampener on your ski vacation, but when the bluebird day arrives you’ll forget about it and enjoy skiing bliss once again.
Heli Skiing and Cat Skiing in Chile
There are various heli skiing
and heli boarding
opportunities in Chile. These are typically situated at the upscale ski resorts such as Portillo, Valle Nevado, and La Parva. All the operations provide single day heli skiing packages, and most provide single runs options. See our Heli Ski Chile
overview for more information.
There is only one formal Chile cat skiing operation. The Ski Arpa
cat skiing operation is located about 100km north of Santiago.
When is the Ski Season in Chile?
Chile is a great place to have a winter vacation in summer (of course this only works for those who live in the Northern Hemisphere!), or a winter vacation in winter! The ski season begins in mid-June and runs to October. However the best skiing conditions in Chile are generally mid July to early September, but the busy Chile holidays are during July.
Why Ski or Snowboard in Chile?
Chile is a great place to have a ski holiday and experience the Latin culture all at the same time. You can speak Spanish to your heart’s content or giggle at the Spanglish where eating is described as “gastronomy”, and skiing is something that you practise. In Chile, dinner is eaten late, dancing goes to the wee hours, and you might get away with having an après siesta. And as part of the culture, only the super keen powderhounds are up early for first lifts. Fantástico!
Chile Fully Hosted & Guided Ski & Snowboard Safaris
A great way to explore the Chile ski resorts is to go on a multi-resort tour. The guides look after any language issues and transport requirements, and the guides know the terrain intimately so you get to ski the best lines in the best snow with your safety being paramount.
You don't need to be an expert or advanced rider as there are many intermediate trips available, and some tours incorporate instruction or coaching.
See the Chile ski tours
for more information. For tour dates and an indication of availability, check out the South America ski tours schedule
||High Andes Adventure | 4 Ski Areas | 7 Days
Visit the highest ski resorts in the Andes and experience 2 days of cat skiing at Valle El Arpa; these ski and snowboard areas will bring out the big mountain rider in you! For Advanced to Experts....
||The Southern Cross | 3 Resorts | 7 Days
This tour is for those wanting to experience Chile's volcanoes on skis or snowboard. Most skiing is accessed via lifts however there will be plenty of opportunities to earn your turns in the backcountry.....
||Summer Ski Escape Off Piste - 7 Days
An action packed adventure for advanced to expert skiers & snowboarders. Ride Chile's top ski areas (Valle Nevado, El Colorado, La Parva, Portillo PLUS El Arpa Cat Skiing) + night in Santiago.....
||Chile Snow Adventure Off Piste - 9 Days
An adventure of a lifetime for advanced to expert skiers & snowboarders. Ride Chile's top ski areas (Valle Nevado, El Colorado, La Parva, Portillo, Termas de Chillan PLUS El Arpa Cat Skiing) + night in Santiago.....
||Discover Chile for Skiers - 14 Days
Ride 5 of Chile's best ski areas including Valle Nevado, El Colorado, La Parva, Portillo & Nevados de Chillan (PLUS El Arpa Cat Skiing option). Includes on-the-snow coaching from certified instructors.....
Hosted (Unguided) Ski & Snowboard Safaris
||Ultimate South America Ski & Ride Tour- 6 Days
This incredible tour includes 1 day of heli skiing at Puma Lodge, 1 day of cat skiing at El Arpa and 2 of chile's best ski resorts; Portillo & Valle Nevado (all packed in to 6 days!)....
||Chile's Top Ski Resorts Tour - 8 Days
Ski 2 of Chile's best resorts; Valle Nevado & Portillo PLUS 2 full days of cat sking at El Arpa. For advanced- intermediate to expert riders, this is an adventure if a lifetime.....
||Pucon Ski Experience - 6 Days
Travel south to Chile's Lakes District and experience one of Chile's most famous volcanoes - Villarrica. Ski the volcano, soak in thermal hot springs and take in the exquisite sights of Pucon....
||Ski, Wine Tasting & San Pedro - 10 Days
Combine skiing at 3 of Chile's top ski destinations including a day of cat skiing at El Arpa with a tour of Chile's central & northern region. Wine, natural wonders and unforgettable vistas.....
Chile & Argentina Combo Safaris
||Frontier Las Lenas Tour - 12 Days
Off-piste / back country extravaganza for advanced to expert skiers & snowboarders to 4 of Chile's best resorts plus a day of cat skiing with El Arpa and then 5 day finale at the massive ski resort in Argentina; Las Lenas.....
Chile Guided Instructional Tours
||4 Resorts Ski Safari - 9 Days
Check out 4 of Chile's best ski resorts while improving your skiing with certified professional ski coaches & guides. Strong intermediates to strong advanced skiers only....
||4 Resorts + CatSki Safari - 11 Days
This tour is specifically designed for intermediate to advanced skiers wanting to improve their off-piste/powder skiing skills. Certified professional coaching all the way...
||Chile Instructional Ski Tour - 7 Days
Improve your skiing & experience some of Chile's best resorts including Portillo, La Parva, El Colorado, Valle Nevado + a day of cat skiing with El Arpa. For intermediate to advanced intermediate skiers.....
||Chile Instructional Snowboard Tour - 8 Days
Improve your snowboarding skills whilst you experience some of Chile's best resorts including Portillo, La Parva, El Colorado, Valle Nevado plus a day of cat skiing in the back country. For intermediate snowboarders......
||Women's Freeride Ski Camp - 7 Days
Develop your freeride off-piste and backcountry skills with pro skier Ingrid Backstrom at the beautiful Chilean ski resort of La Parva. For advanced intermediate to advanced skiers......
Chile Cat & Heli Ski Tours
||Ski Arpa Multi-Day Packages
Why visit for just one day when this is the best value cat skiing in the world? Stay in beautiful Los Andes for a true Chile experience. Variety of packages & price options to choose from.....
||Arpa Express - Portillo Extension
The great way to finish off a week at Portillo and maximise your ski time in Chile. Stay an extra night en-route to Santiago Airport and ski 10,000+ vertical feet with Arpa Cat Skiing....
||Heli + Cat Skiing Combo Tour
7 day / 6 nights heli & cat skiing tour combining 2 days of cat skiing + 3 days of heli skiing in some of the most exciting terrain in the Andes. Package includes accommodation, meals, transfers...
||Chile Day Heli Skiing Packages
A variety of day heli ski adventures in the Tres Valle, Aconcagua Valley and Cajon Del Maipo area. All tours leave from and return to Santiago. Strong intermediate to expert riders.....
Chile Backcountry Tours
||Chile Volcanoes Backcountry Tour - 9 Days
Ski tour or snowboard /split board 3 of Chile's magnificent volcanoes (offering 15,000ft of vert); Llaima, Villarrica, and Lonquimay. For advanced & experts skiers & snowboarders...