Between seeing valleys that go thousands of feet deep and getting to play in the freshest powder, getting to ski in Chile is a must! They have runs for all strengths, beginners to experts will be impressed with the mountains of the Andes! If you are coming from Santiago there is three ski areas located within 30 minutes of each other; Valle de Nevado, El Colorado, and Casa Farellones. On one other side of Santiago you have another very popular ski resort called, Portillo. From Santiago’s International airport these resorts are all about 2-3 hours away.
I highly recommend Valle de Nevado, they have over 9+ lifts giving you endless runs to entertain yourself for days. Valle de Nevado has a view that no one could put into a picture. Looking out on a lift called, “Andes Express,” you can see mountain, Bismark at 4700m (14,000ft+) Neighboring this peak is a even bigger one, El Plomo at 5,430m (16,000ft+), El Plomo even has a glacier that lives on it.
Getting to this part of Chile can be quite a headache, the roads in Santiago are bustling, curvaceous, and in Spanish. There are also many surrounding mountains to get confused by! In case you would like a little bit of advice on getting to the mountain… When exiting the airport you will need to follow the highway called, “Costanera Norte,” for about 30-45minutes (depending on traffic). Although it might seem simple as you encounter Santiago this highway takes many curves through tunnels and has many different on/ off ramps. There are also many different abbreviations made of, “Costanera Norte.” You will continue on this one highway till it ends. When getting to the end, you will be forced to an off ramp ending in a very nice suburb part of Santiago (still pretty busy with traffic). Here I would suggest that you look for a strip mall called, “Mall Sport.” If you need any last minute gear, this place is outstanding! There is anything you could possibly want for the outdoors here! …Back to the directions, when coming off the ramp and you see the Mall sport straight ahead of you, you should turn left at the light, before you pass the mall. You need to pass the mall sport on your right to be headed in the right direction. Drive down this street for about 5-10 minutes and the first road that curves to your right with a red gas station will be, “Las Condes,” this road will take you to the top of the mountain. If you end up in a neighborhood with a round about and a security guard you have gone to far!
To make it easier on you, some rental cars have gps systems, but they tend to be a bit more expensive to rent them (about 50 extra USD). If you get lost, just ask around they usually can point you to highway Costanera Norte. If you can find the Mall Sport don’t even bother trying to talk to the people that work there, find wifi and use an online map! There are no paper roadmaps of Santiago. Other tips; the cars are crap out there! The batteries in the cars tend to die very easily; they aren’t use to the cold! Lastly, on Sunday, due to the Sabbath after 2 pm they do not let anyone up the mountain. But if you do make it up there, there is a National Park that you can camp at, as well as many other side road parking lots with phenomenal views and free camping!