San Martin de los Andes-Cerro Chapelco
22 pistes of varying difficulty, with the stunning backdrop of the Lanín Volcano on the horizon
San Martín de los Andes in Argentina is a popular Patagonian mountain town with about 30,000 inhabitants. Being “of the Andes”, the town sits between high peaks of the Andes.
The primary trade of San Martin de los Andes is tourism. San Martín de los Andes forms a gateway to the Lanin National Park and the lake corridor, and during winter, skiing and snowboarding becomes the main focus of activities at Chapelco ski resort.
Like the nearby towns of Bariloche and Villa la Angostura, San Martin features Swiss wooden architecture and lots of Swiss boutique chocolate shops. The town has grown somewhat in recent years, as have the prices, yet San Martin has managed to retain its alpine charm and it’s a much more tranquil and upscale version of Bariloche.
San Martin de los Andes was also put on the map by “The Motorcycle Diaries” book and movie where Che Guevara and his mate visited the sleepy town and crossed the Andes on their motorcycle.
Villa la Angostura-Cerro Bayo
Cerro Bayo ski resort only 15 minutes from Villa la Angostura
Villa la Angostura (or La Angostura for short) is an upmarket resort town in the Neuquén Province of Patagonia, Argentina. Even though it’s called a “village”, it has a population of approximately 11,000 inhabitants and is more aptly described as a town, although in comparison to Bariloche, Angostura definitely feels village-like.
In a similar vein to Bariloche and other Patagonia towns, Villa la Angostura has beautiful alpine wooden buildings and the requisite chocolate shops. The major difference is that Villa la Angostura is much smaller and quieter than “Braziloche”, and has a more laidback approach. The surrounding landscape compliments the quiet harmonious nature of Villa la Angostura.
“Angostura” in Spanish means “narrowness” which refers to the width of the Quetrihué Peninsula where the town is nestled.
Cerro Castor is up there as one of the most modern well established Argentine ski resorts
Otherwise known as “Fin Del Mundo” (the end of the world), Ushuaia in Argentina is the southern most city in the world. Ushuaia has a population of about 60,000 people and it surges with tourists. In winter, the Ushuaia skiing at the nearby Cerro Castor attracts many porteños, whilst in summer Ushuaia is a very trendy tourist port at which many cruise ships stop.
Located on the Beagle Channel that separates the tail ends of Argentina and Chile, the views from Ushuaia overlooking the water are rather special, which are complemented by the often snowcapped mountains behind the town. Some of the beautiful colourful historic buildings are mixed in with modern structures, along with several eyesores.
Bariloche is a magnet for ski and snowboard fiends.
San Carlos de Bariloche, or Bariloche for short, is a major tourism town. The population of Bariloche Argentina is about 110,000 yet the town is usually inhabited by many more people when you include the tourists that flock there to go skiing or trekking. So Bariloche is really more like a city than a town.
Bariloche sits on the shores of the pristine Lake Nahuel Huapi in the foothills of the Andes, so it’s surrounded by mountains as well as forests. The setting is absolutely gorgeous and the views are really stunning.
The town itself is also somewhat attractive. Bariloche has a major Swiss influence which is reflected in the alpine architecture, with many buildings featuring stone and wood. The “Little Switzerland” extends to an abundance of chocolate shops, and there are often several St Bernard dogs hanging around just for good measure.
A mecca for extreme skiers
Las Leñas ski resort has amazing jaw-dropping vistas of big mountains with dramatic peaks. Anyone can appreciate the spectacular views at Las Lenas Argentina, yet for expert skiers and boarders, they’ll start salivating over the steep big mountain lines that are waiting to be ripped. The Las Lenas Resort has fabulously gnarly terrain, so it’s not surprising that it attracts pro-skiers from around the world.
There’s been an avalanche of hype associated with Las Leñas Argentina as an extreme skiing destination, but sometimes it doesn’t quite live up to the hysteria. If you can hang there all season you’re likely to score the full joys of the resort, but if you’re just going for a week-long vacation you’d better pray really hard to the weather gods that you’ll be able to access all that sick terrain.
If you are not up for throwing yourself off cliffs and straight-lining narrow chutes, don’t despair; Las Leñas ski resort also has runs for beginners, intermediates, advanced riders, and your average expert skier or snowboarder that’s not a pro. The village of Las Leñas is located at the base of the lifts providing lots of ski in/out accommodation options. There are several Las Lenas hotels, and many packages are based on Saturday to Saturday stays. A couple of the hotels are 5 star and include services such a ski valet who takes your ski boots off for you. And in keeping with the astrology and space theme, hotel names include Virgo, Piscis, Escorpio, and Aries.
There are a number of self contained apartments in the village that generally provide more flexibility in the number of nights stay and the days you can arrive and depart. The Las Lenas apartments also provide a more affordable form of lodging.
Valle Nevado, the largest and most modern ski resort in Chile
Located 9,925 feet above sea level, Valle Nevado is just 37 miles from Santiago and nestled in the heart of the Andes, offering spectacular mountain views from every direction. The resort boasts the most modern lift system in the country, and features a small-scale “village” that includes 3 hotels, a dozen condominium buildings, 6 restaurants, pubs and bars, a spa & fitness center, and retail shopping.
Valle Nevado has 2,200 acres of in-bounds terrain with plenty of side country access and deep powder runs that typically do not get tracked out for days. On average, Valle Nevado receives more snow than other resorts in the Central Valley area, with 275 inches per year on average. Skiers and snowboarders who book a 7-night package receive two interconnect tickets to the neighboring resorts El Colorado and La Parva, opening nearly 7,000 acres for a total terrain that rivals the size of Whistler/Blackcomb. There is plenty of terrain for beginners and intermediates, and advanced skiers might consider booking a thrilling adventure with the resort’s heli-ski service, where skiers and snowboarders can get up to 5,000 vertical feet per run on average.
The hallmark of a Valle Nevado ski trip is a laid-back ambiance and no lift lines, delicious food and Chile’s famous pisco sours and wine, and serendipituous moments bumping into one of the many international ski pros who call Valle Nevado their summer training camp. In the afternoon, there is no better way to unwind from the slopes in the resort’s outdoor pool apres ski, watching condors soar above and the Andean sunset. A warm, friendly environment with a mostly English speaking staff, makes the experience all the more enjoyable.
Don’t miss Valle Nevado’s Gastronomy Week from Aug. 5-10, and the resort’s 2nd Annual Chilean Wine Festival from Aug. 18-24.
- Elevation: 9,381ft to 12,038ft
- Vertical Drop: 2,657 feet
- Vertical Rise: 2,500
- Inbound Terrain: 39 Runs
- 10% Beginner, 36% Intermediate, 33% Advanced, 21% Expert
- Ski Lifts: 14
- Off-Piste and Backcountry Access: Excellent
- Heli-ski: Yes
- Annual Snowfall: 276 inches (700 cms)
- Valle Nevado Weather: 80% sunny days and dry powder due to elevation and resort aspect
- Ski and Snowboard Park: Yes
Variously described as a “boutique resort”, a “luxury cruise ship in a sea of mountains”, or just “heavenly”, Portillo is a resort unique in the world.
This tradition continues, offering skiers a rare taste of a world long forgotten, rich in culture, conviviality, and awe-inspiring beauty. The all –inclusive resort accommodates a maximum of 450 guests a week, eliminating crowds and lift lines. Complimentary offerings include use of the pool and hot tubs – perched idyllically over Lake Inca as well as daily après ski activities. Portillo is famed for its steeps with easily accessed backcountry terrain. Less-experienced guests will find wide-open beginner and intermediate slopes.
In this intimate valley you will never have more than 450 people on the slopes.
Guests form a special camaraderie in the deluxe Hotel Portillo as they recount adventures on the slopes, enjoy sumptuous meals and dance the night away in the hotel’s discotheque. South America’s best-known ski resort is set far above the timberline in a desolate moonlike landscape of rock and snow. Portillo’s very low humidity combined with a 9,350 foot base altitude assure a crisp climate producing legendary dry powder.With a Portillo ski vacation package you will discover a resort world renown for superb ski conditions and celebrated beauty of the Laguna de Inca Lake surrounded by some of the highest mountains in the world.
Portillo: The Spirit of the Andes.