1060 The Swiss Alps, the Rockies, the Appalachians… we’ve all heard of these epic skiing and snowboarding destinations.
But did you know that some of the best skiing in the world is actually south of the equator? Skiing in the southern hemisphere is reserved to Argentina and Chile, but the slopes of these two countries are a rite of passage for any mountain lover.
During the winter in Argentina, more than 10 ski resort destinations open their doors to skiers and snowboarders looking for dry powder and some of the most extensive backcountry options anywhere. Chile skiing and snowboarding is available at 17 resorts, stretching from just outside the city of Santiago all the way into Chilean Patagonia.
This is your ultimate guide to the best southern hemisphere skiing. Keep reading to find out the top destinations for Chile and Argentina skiing.
Best Argentina Skiing
Argentina has ski resorts that offer all of the comfort and amenities of the world’s top ski destinations. Regardless of your level of expertise, there’s fantastic terrain for beginners to experts to extremists.
The most popular resort for Argentina skiing has got to be Cerro Catedral. Located in Barlioche, this resort has an international feel and it fronts the beautiful Nahuel Huapi Lake. With runs for every level of skier or snowboarder, some of the best tree skiing in the country, and extensive backcountry terrain with a remote hut system for those wanting to take extended overnight backcountry trips, Cerro Catedral has something for everyone.
Las Lenas is also located in Barlioche but this resort is a little less-family or beginner-friendly. All of the skiing here takes place above the tree line and it’s revered for big, steep slopes that should only be navigated by advanced and expert skiers. Indeed, you’ll find some of the most challenging terrain in South America here, along with endless backcountry options.
If you’re looking for less crowds and a more mellow, laid-back vibe, then you have to head to the smaller Patagonian resorts in the south of the country. Here you’ll find true backcountry resorts that put you in the wildest and most remote parts of the Patagonian Andes. Check out Baguales or Mallin Alto, where the lodging is rustic, the natural beauty epic, and the skiing out of this world.
Best Chile Skiing
The Chilean ski scene stretches from just north of the capital city of Santiago all the way into the deep southern reaches of Chilean Patagonia. Like Argentina skiing, you’ll find runs for every ski level, expansive backcountry options, and absolutely stunning natural landscapes on which to play.
Portillo is Chile’s oldest and largest ski resort. Established in 1949, it offers the best ski school in the country, the best expert skiing, and also some of the best powder. It’s got an old-school ski resort vibe, with no central town. Instead, everything centers around the iconic Hotel Portillo, which sits on the banks of the Inca Lake. Ski the groomed runs or head out to the hike-only access “Super C” (aka one of the most infamous backcountry runs in the world).
We can’t talk about Chile skiing without talking about the Three Valleys group of ski resorts: Valle Nevado, La Parva, and El Colorado.
Valle Nevado is the highest and most modern resort in Chile. All 44 runs are above the tree line and there’s also plenty of shopping, dining, and lodging options. For the most extensive backcountry options amongst the Three Valley ski resorts, head to La Parva. It has almost 1 kilometer of vertical descent that’s an advanced skiers dream. And, finally, for the best night life and apres-ski culture, check out El Colorado. This resort also has an out of bounds zone that’ll keep even the most expert skier on their toes.
Winter Weather Recommendations & When to Visit
The southern hemisphere winter takes place during northern hemisphere summer. So, you’ll be heading to the airport in the middle of your summer with your skis and mountain gear. Which may look kind of funny, but you know something others don’t… some of the best skiing in the world is southern hemisphere skiing.
The ski season in Chile and Argentina are the same. They run from mid-June through until October. However, the best time for resort skiing is from mid-July until mid-September.
June is not the best month as it can be hit or miss. If it’s the only time you have to go, you can chance it. But you might not have the best, or safest, conditions. July, on the other hand, you’re pretty much guaranteed decent conditions.
But, truly, most pro and expert skiers and snowboarders head out for southern hemisphere skiing between August and September. The snow quality during these months is at its peak (with August being the absolute best and September being a very close second).
If you’re coming for backcountry skiing or split boarding, August and September are really the only the time to visit. By this time in the season, the snow base has had a lot of time to accumulate.
In recent years, you might even be able to push backcountry trips into late October if you’re headed down to Patagonia. Colder temperatures and heavy snowfall in Chapelco, Catedral, and La Hoya resorts can keep you busy late into the season, and with remote hut access, too.
If there’s one thing we should definitely mention about when to visit Chile or Argentina for skiing, it’s that you should avoid the resorts in the middle of the week in July. Though lift lines here will never compare to places like Whistler or Aspen, July is school holidays in South America, and that means resorts and village hotels book up with families, slopes get crowded, and lift tickets are more expensive.
Southern Hemisphere Skiing with Kuoda
If you’re a skier or snowboarder who has never raced down the slops of the Andes, this is a rite of passage you must experience. Argentina and Chile offer some of the best skiing in the world in some of the most breath-taking landscapes you’ve ever seen. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced skier, there’s terrain appropriate for you here.
Are you ready to bring your gear south of the equator to experience some of the most epic skiing the planet has to offer? Let us get this on your itinerary today!