It happens every summer. With a hot summer sun blazing overhead, the inevitable daydream to the cold, snowy days of winter washes over you like fresh face-shot. Summer turns are always a treat in the Northern Hemisphere, but there’s nothing like the feeling of stepping back into the flow of ski season with a trip to South America.
Sure, you’ve thought about it before. But is it worth the time and money? How hard is it to make the migration south a reality? The truth is you can leave the US on a morning flight to Santiago, Chile one day, and be in the lift line at Valle Nevado the next morning. I’ve tested the system and it works. With a smooth customs check you can literally go from baggage to a shuttle, and be at the resort in under two hours.
Valle Nevado is celebrating their 30th Anniversary this season. The largest ski resort in Chile, Valle has been slowly growing over the years and now offers a plethora of accommodations, restaurants, and nighttime activities catered to the international traveler. The best part is the skiing has remained as top-notch as it’s ever been. With a modern lift system, it’s no wonder the resort is home to ski teams from all over the world.
While the Chilean sun cooks up smooth corn days for parts of the season, it’s the intrepid people and powder days I’ve experienced at Valle over the years that have stuck with me the most. It’s not uncommon to have a storm blow in completely resetting the local terrain, leaving miles and miles of untracked skiing to explore for days on end. The resort terrain has a little bit of something for everyone, and the backcountry access is as good as I’ve experienced anywhere in Chile. Valle always seems to attract a good mix of visitors as well. If you don’t share a chairlift or skintrack with someone on the hill, you’ll be sharing a drink with them at apres in the massive hot tub soon enough.
To celebrate 30 years this season Valle is offering a 30% discount on all-inclusive packages through explora. The deal comes with a minimum three night’ stay at both Valle and one explora property (Atacama, Easter Island, or the SacredValley, Peru). Rates for luxe lodging, gourmet dining, Valle Nevado lift tickets and explora daily excursions start at USD $1,986 per person, for 6 total nights.
If that deal isn’t your flavor there are many other ways to experience Valle Nevado, from simple ski/stay packages over a long weekend, to day excursions with a basecamp in Santiago. If you happen to make a trip in August the Chile Wine Festival takes place from the 3rd-10th, featuring specially designed menus, top chefs from Santiago that give cooking classes and present cooking shows, as well as wine tastings. From August 17th-24th, the Gastronomy Festival takes center stage with nightly tastings, seminars, and a grand wine festival on the final night. Wineries invited are those producing the country’s highest-quality, cutting-edge wines, and smaller boutique wineries that are pushing the winemaking envelope far away from the classic standards of the past.
The best time to visit depends on what works best for you. June-September is when operations are usually going, with July and August being the most visited months. I’ve made trips in July and August and like most ski travels have experienced a myriad of conditions. The cool thing is if it’s dry, you’re more than likely going have sunny skies and soft, warm snow under your skis. If you score, you’ll be riding the Chilean powder you were once only daydreaming about.