After the not-so-stellar ski season that most U.S. resorts had due to a decreased snowpack, there are some tempting ski conditions shaping up down in South America.
So, for all you skiers and snowboarders who want a little more time on slopes, a good bet is to head to Chile during their ski season, which runs from June to September.
The Andes are only a short trip away from Santiago, Chile's capital, and they offer a wide range of ski resorts catering to every level of skier and snowboarder.
Whether you are a novice looking for a budget-friendly experience, or an advanced skier looking for some steep-and-deep heli-skiing, Chile offers something for every visitor this ski season.
With reports of ample snow and continuing storms on both sides of the Andes, here's a few of the upcoming season's best packages and tours for U.S. travelers from Turismo Chile.
Chilean Ski Resorts and Packages
Valle NevadoValle Nevado ski resort, located in the heart of the Andes Mountains and just one hour outside of Santiago, offers access to the largest skiable terrain in South America. Among their upgrades for the 2012 season is the first ski resort gondola in Chile. Holding six passengers each in its 70 cabins, the gondola provides riders with a convenient way to reach the Bajo Zero restaurant.
Ski Portillo has been a name associated with Chilean skiing for the past 60 years. Its designated ski weeks are designed to offer a great winter getaway experience with spacious slopes and a guarantee of minimal wait time at the lifts. Their family programs and diverse terrain make it an ideal destination for all experience levels.
Ski week packages begin at $1,790 and include accommodations for seven nights, four meals a day and lift tickets from June to September. The resort's Wine Festival, taking place August 25 to September 1, offers guests the chance to experience a different vineyard each night with a sampling of wines beginning at 6:30 p.m. Portillo is also offering a night at the Santiago Ritz Carlton with transfers to Portillo.
For the more experienced skier, you can be lifted in a helicopter and flown into exclusive locations in the Andes range. Sample Heli-Ski packages include ground transportation from Santiago, three nights at The Puma Lodge, South America's first heli-ski resort, three meals, a Chilean "Tea Time", practice sessions prior to skiing and ski rental. The package is valid from July 1 through September 30, and rates begin at $7,609 per person. See Ski Portillo for details.
La ParvaLa Parva, located just an hour outside of the city, is known for its panoramic view of the central valley. The resort's new chairlift in Fabres Valley offers 30 percent more skiable terrain than previous seasons.
La Parva offers a wide range of classes for all levels, accommodations and a number of restaurants ranging from French cuisine to traditional Patagonian mountain fare. Day lift tickets for the 2012 season begin at $50.
Expert skiers and beginners alike can take advantage of skiing down a volcano, one of the exclusive opportunities that Chile's diverse terrain offers.
Sample volcano skiing packages include 12 nights of all-inclusive accommodations with lift tickets at six different properties, as well as the chance to ski in four to seven different Chilean volcanoes, depending on skill level. Prices for beginner packages start at $5,100 or $9,500 for experts, both from July to September. See La Parva for details.
At Ski Arpa, cat skiing, an alternative to heli-skiing, can get adventure-seekers to challenging terrain. Day rates begin at $245 for four runs during low season.
Ski Arpa also offers a number of hotel packages including:
- Hosteria Rucahue - Package rates include accommodations for two nights, breakfast daily, two days of cat skiing and transportation. Rates begin at $1,015 based on double occupancy.
- Casa San Regis - Package rates include a two night stay, breakfast and lunch daily, two days of cat skiing and transportation. Rates begin at $1,213 based on double occupancy.
- Termas Jahuel - Package rates include two nights in a hotel, breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, two days of cat skiing and transportation. Rates begin at $1,345 based on double occupancy.
All packages are based upon availability and are subject to change, so visit Chile Travel for more information.
Read More: Summer Skiing