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Where is El Colorado?

El Colorado Chile is considered to be one of the Santiago ski resorts, located about 56km (30 miles) to the east of central Santiago, only 44km from Las Condes area of Santiago, and 71km from the Santiago International Airport. The drive from Santiago to El Colorado takes about an hour in good conditions, but there are many variables that can impact on the drive time.

El Colorado is bordered either side by La Parva and Valle Nevado ski resorts, whilst the Farellones village sits below El Colorado. From El Colorado:
  • The Farellones village sits below and to the west of El Colorado, 5km away by road
  • La Parva is 2.5km by road to the north
  • The Valle Nevado hotel base area is 19km by road to the southeast

Flying into Santiago

The Santiago Benitez International Airport is the gateway airport for El Colorado and the other Tres Valles ski resorts. LAN is the major international carrier with flights from Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada and Europe. Flights from the UK may go via New York, Miami or Los Angeles. There are also other airlines that fly into Santiago from other South American cities. You can use one of our recommended flight search and booking engines to find a great deal on a flight to Chile.

Private Transport from Santiago or the Airport

Driving to El Colorado can be a little tricky (see below) and car rental is somewhat expensive, so many international visitors find it much easier to get private transport from the city of Santiago or the airport. This can be organised as part of an El Colorado ski package.

Inexpensive Day Trip Shuttles to El Colorado

If you’re staying in the city of Santiago, there are various transport companies that provide inexpensive daily shuttles to El Colorado. These either leave from their ski shop, or the transport can include a hotel pick-up that goes via the shop in the hope that you’ll rent ski or snowboard equipment from them.

One example is KL Adventures. Departures from their shop in Cantagallo (on the eastern outskirts of Santiago near the turn-off to Farellones) are inexpensive or they offer hotel pick-ups with a stop at their shop for a few more pesos.

Whilst these shuttles are very inexpensive, they can take a long time, especially considering there’s a wait at the ski shop for everyone to rent or take back their equipment. If you don’t need rental equipment this can be rather frustrating.

Ski Total Santiago Ski Total Tres Valle Day Trips
Same-day return scheduled bus service from Santiago to Vale Nevado, La Parva and El Colorado. Departs Santiago 8:00am 7-days during ski season. Also Portillo on Wednesdays & Saturdays. Private group transfers also available for 1 - 14 guests.
KL Adventures Transport KL Adventures Tres Valles Day Trips
Offer a same-day return scheduled bus service from Santiago to Vale Nevado, La Parva & El Colorado. Regular hotel pick-ups from 6:30am to 7:45am, 7-days during ski season. They pass by their ski rental shop on the way to the mountain to get you kitted out.

Driving to El Colorado from Santiago

Car rental in Chile can be very expensive and rates can vary significantly between companies. It definitely pays to shop around to compare prices. You can use one of our recommended car rental search engine facilities to help you find the best deal for car rental in Santiago or at the Santiago international airport.

Av Apoquindo is one of the major thoroughfares in Santiago which turns into Av Las Condes. Continue east on Av Las Condes and not far after the Mall Sport mega shop is a Terpel Service Station where there is a fork in the road. Turn right here into Camino de Farellones (G21) which as the name suggests goes to Farellones. The signage for this turn-off is quite subtle so keep a close eye out for the turn-off. There’s a small sign referring to the mountains (montañas), but that’s about it. Just after the turn-off there are a couple of ski and snowboard shops where you can pick up rental equipment and chains.

You’ll come across some colourful shipping containers a little way up the canyon road, and it’s likely that some men will flap their arms at you. It’s compulsory to carry chains and if you haven’t already got some, this is the last place for cadena arriendo. Even though there is plenty of competition it is likely that the chain men will try to rip you off and give you a special gringo price, especially if your Spanish is limited!

The road up to Farellones has 38 curves, most of which are tight switchbacks. The road is paved, cleared, and has various safety barriers in place. It’s also fairly wide but considering that it’s sometimes choked with traffic (including wild donkeys!) there are regulations to make the road one-way at times. On weekends and during holidays (usually in July) only up-hill traffic is permitted between 8am and 2pm, and down-hill traffic is permitted from 4pm to 8pm. At other times it’s a two-way road. This can make transport plans a little tricky.

If the road is covered in snow you may be accosted by various men offering to put your chains on. This is rather handy if you don’t know how to fit chains or if you don’t want to get your hands dirty. The competition is fierce, so feel free to barter a little. Carry small notes, otherwise they’ll claim they have no change and the price of chain fitting will be rounded up. On the way down the hill, the process for taking off the chains is similar, although the price is likely to be much less.

In Farellones, one road veers off to Valle Nevado and the other to El Colorado and La Parva. These roads are well signposted. The road from Farellones to El Colorado is paved and a relatively easy drive. There are a few curves, but it’s not too difficult. The road is wide enough for 2-way traffic in most places although occasionally in narrow places there might be a bit of reversing required.

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Getting Around Tres Valles

Even though there are three interconnected ski resorts at Tres Valles (or four ski areas when you consider Farellones as a separate resort), sampling all areas is not as easy or cheap as one would first think. The exorbitant cost of a dual-resort lift ticket is one barrier, and there are times when the lifts for the inter-connections are closed due to limited visibility, windy conditions or avalanche risk. Similarly during and after a storm, the roads may be closed. Check the resort reports in the morning before heading out.

Travel Between El Colorado and Farellones
It’s easy to get between El Colorado and Farellones via the ski slopes and lifts, and even beginners can easily achieve this. Both ski areas are covered on the one lift ticket.

Getting Between El Colorado and La Parva
To ski La Parva without buying two lift tickets, you’ll have to get to La Parva via road (only 2.5km away). If you don’t have a car, you might be able to get your accommodation to organize a driver to take you there.

Intermediate riders and above can return to El Colorado via the slopes without requiring a lift ticket for El Colorado.

Travel Between El Colorado and Valle Nevado
If you’re happy to pay the outrageous price to get a dual resort ticket for El Colorado and Valle Nevado, strong intermediate riders and above can ski between the areas.

To ski Valle Nevado without buying two lift tickets, you’ll have to get to and from Valle Nevado via the road but it’s a long way (about 19km – 45 mins in good conditions) because in order to return to El Colorado you need to catch an El Colorado lift up the east face before you can ski down the front face to your lodging.

If you don’t have a car, your accommodation might be able to organise a driver for your group to get to and from Valle Nevado but this is likely to be very expensive.

Getting Around El Colorado

Villa Colorado is small so it’s easy to navigate on foot. Most of the accommodations are slopeside or just a short walk to the ski area. El Colorado has a couple of levels of car parks for day trippers. For those parked on the lower levels, they have cute “zoo trains” to transport people up to El Parador base.
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