Santiago: Boasts Largest Ski Area In The Southern Hemisphere
The Santiago Metropolitan Region contains the nation's capital, Santiago, and is nestled between the Chilean Coast Range and the Andes Mountains.
The city of Santiago is one of Latin America's most modern metropolitan areas, with Spanish colonial architecture, wide tree-lined avenues, and a charming old district of Barrio Brasil. Chile's capital is known for its fine museums, artistic enclaves, and thriving café culture. The beautiful and extensive valleys surrounding the city give rise to famous Chilean wines.
Santiago is located close to the country's main ski resorts: 38 kilometres (24 miles) from El Colorado; 60 kilometres (37 miles) from Valle Nevado; and 164 kilometres (102 miles) from Portillo. El Colorado is a 45-minute drive from Santiago, giving skiers the option to stay in the city and catch a shuttle bus to and from the resort each day.
The ski resorts of Valle Nevado (3025m/9925ft), El Colorado (2430m/7972ft), and La Parva make up the ‘3 Valleys of the Andes' - the largest skiable domain in the Southern Hemisphere - with a total of 107 kilometres (66 miles) of pistes. The Three Valleys resorts offer some of the best lift-accessed off-piste in Chile. Ski the powder of the back bowl, Valle Olympico, and if weather and snow conditions permit, ski off the ridge line of Santa Teresa.
North of Santiago, Portillo (2512m/8241ft), South America's oldest ski resort, has 45 kilometres of pistes accessed by 14 lifts (drags and chairs) and offers a skiable height of 3348 metres (10984ft). Portillo's owners have strived to keep the resort small and intimate. In fact one of its biggest selling points is that there is no town, just one hotel which accommodates 450 people at a time, meaning there are rarely any lift queues and pistes do not suffer from over-crowding.
None of Chile's ski resorts suffer the overcrowding and long lift queues you'll see in Europe and North America (so long as you avoid the last two weeks in July - school holidays). Adrenalin junkies will find heliskiing and catskiing are widely available.
Visitors to the Santiago Metropolitan Region often combine the snowy slopes with wine tasting tours. The nearby vineyards of the Maipo Valley are set along the Maipo River - the main river flowing through Santiago Metropolitan Region. The Maipo Valley is the most widely cultivated valley in the Valle Central region and is known for Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Santiago Metropolitan Region also contains Chile's main international airport, Santiago-Benitez International Airport. The airport is located 17 kilometres (11 miles) northwest of Santiago city and receives numerous flights from around the world. Direct flights run from Miami, Atlanta, and Dallas, as well as from airports in Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil.