Getting to Portillo

Getting to Portillo

Wagner Custome Skis

Where is Ski Portillo?

Ski Portillo is 164 kilometres (102 miles – 2 hours) northeast of Santiago Chile on the Ruta 60. Way up high in the Andes Mountains not far from Cerro Aconcagua, Portillo is on the main highway to Mendoza Argentina. The ski resort is only 6km from the Argentina border and a kilometre from the Chile customs station at Los Libertadores. The town of Los Andes is 63km to the west of the Portillo Ski Resort.

Getting To Portillo Chile

The Santiago International Airport, Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez Airport, is the main gateway airport for Portillo. Various airlines have flights into Santiago from other South American cities, and LAN is the major international carrier with flights from Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada and Europe. To search for a great deal on a flight to Santiago, use one of our recommended flight booking engines. It's easy to compare prices, the number of stops, and flight times.

To get from the airport to Portillo ski resort, there are shuttles, private transport providers, and lots of rental car companies if you want to self-drive. Of if you’re on a Chile multi-resort ski tour, all your transport requirements will be looked after.

The travel time from the airport to Portillo is about 2 hours although this can vary significantly depending upon road and snow conditions and the number of trucks. Traffic can be horrendous sometimes. Allow plenty of time on the return trip if you’re catching a flight.

When storms roll in, the highway to Portillo and Argentina sometimes closes. The travel agent at Portillo can help with changes in itinerary including the booking of Santiago hotels as required. The hotel does a good job of forewarning guests about the potential of the road closing, but those stranded on the mountain have to pay for the first night of accommodation and half price for each day thereafter.

Portillo Transfers

Most people get to Portillo via a transfer that is included as part of a Portillo ski week package. Various side-trips can also be added such as a stop-over in Santiago, winery trips or cat skiing with Ski Arpa.

For day trippers there are operators such as Ski Total that offer shuttles on some days from Santiago hotels to Portillo. The shuttles are inexpensive, but the catch is that they take you to their rental shop first with the hope that you’ll rent skis from them, so the trip can be time consuming.

A really cheap way to get from Santiago to Portillo is via bus. There are various buses that go to Los Andes and Portillo en route to Mendoza Argentina. Turbus is an example of a bus company that does this trip.

Driving to Portillo

If you’re feeling adventurous or you want to explore multiple ski resorts near Santiago, you may choose to self-drive to Portillo.

There are various car rental companies that vie for your business at the Santiago airport. Car rental is expensive and some of the touts won’t mind ripping you off, so it’s probably worth pre-booking your car rental to search for half decent rates.

From Santiago head onto Av Americo Vespucio and turn onto Ruta 57 (Autopista Los Libertadores) which is signposted to Los Andes. This turn-off is part of a spaghetti junction so take it slowly to ensure you get the correct turn. Before Los Andes there’s a by-pass onto Ruta 60 which is very well sign-posted to Portillo and Mendoza.

The road up the mountain is sometimes choked with trucks and buses but the drive is very easy because the road is like a highway (because it is a highway!) when it’s fully cleared. The road is wide, even around all the switchbacks, and some drivers overtake vehicles that are overtaking another vehicle – crazy!

Chains are compulsory to drive up the mountain but unfortunately the car rental companies don’t tend to provide these. You’ll need to rent them from one of the little stalls near the ascent up the mountain, or there is a roadside restaurant Cabertizo that has cadena arriendo. They only accept cash and you’ll need to leave your driver’s license or a cash deposit.

There is a car park close to the Portillo Hotel for day trippers, or for overnight guests there are valets to park your car.

Other Ski Resorts Nearby

The Ski Arpa cat skiing operation is located in the mountains above Los Andes. For advanced and expert skiers and boarders this is an absolute “must do”! You can add a cat skiing tour onto the end of your week at Portillo. This Arpa cat skiing extension tour includes one night of accommodation, one day cat skiing, and ground transportation.

The Penitentes ski resort in Argentina is located only 30km to the east of Portillo on International Route 7. Penitentes has a range of terrain within the 300 hectares including some challenging couloirs. Snow cover can sometimes be thin, and the lift system is somewhat primitive, but there is enough excitement to warrant a one day visit.

Los Penitentes is probably best visited as a hiatus on the way to Las Leñas in Argentina, as a day trip to and from Portillo could be a little courageous. Firstly special paperwork is required for car insurance to go into Argentina, which applies to rental cars and taxis. The second hurdle is the time required to cross the border. Depending upon the number of trucks passing through, the crossing from Argentina into Chile may only take an hour. However the Chilean customs officers are more vigilant with their checks so the crossing back into Chile may take 2 hours. The other travel complication is that the Los Libertadores tunnel is sometimes closed due to excessive snow, although if there’s been a big storm you probably wouldn’t want to visit Penitentes until the avalanche risk had subsided anyhow.