In South America, ski while others summer
Cerro Catedral, located less than 20km from the city and within the confines of the Nahuel Huapi National Park, is the area’s most extensive ski resort, comprising almost 40 lifts and 1,200 hectares of terrain, about half of which offer off-piste skiing. Many visitors bunk up in town and bus out to the slopes in the morning, especially those looking for a vibrant nightlife scene. A more secluded stay is available 25km outside of town at the Llao Llao Luxury Hotel and Resort, perched on a foothill looking out on the Nahuel Huapi Lake and surrounded by woodland.
Skiing to the edge of the Earth
In the far reaches of South America, just about where the continent comes to a point near Antarctica, is Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world and the capital of Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego province. Ushuaia also contains the southernmost ski resort in the world, Cerro Castor, which butts up to the Beagle Channel. The near-Arctic location affords the resort the longest ski season in South America, stretching from early June to late September, and skiers can try their hand on 28 trails a mere 200m above sea level, with the summit reaching an altitude of about 1,000m.
Los Cauquenes Resort and Spa is a luxury lodging option, located right on the lapping shores of the Beagle Channel. The smaller 10-room Hotel Austral, sparsely decorated but hospitable and comfortable, is located in the centre of the city. As a side activity, visitors can hop the Tren del Fin del Mundo (End of the World Train) from Ushuaia to the coastal Tierra del Fuego National Park just 11km away, to explore the forested area via multiple hiking and climbing trails.
Slopes near the city
In operation since the 1940s, Ski Portillo in Chile is one of South America’s oldest ski resorts, one of the closest to Santiago and also has some of South America’s finest conditions. The resort’s elevation of about 3km above sea level nests it high above the timberline, low humidity keeps the powder fluffy without sticking, and staff limit the number of skiers and boarders on the slopes’ 35 trails and 13 lifts so they can carve and turn without the crowds. The resort is also considered to run one of the hemisphere’s best ski schools.
Bus services regularly run between the resort and Chile’s capital city, which is about 160km away. Those who want to stay on-site rather than in Santiago can bunk up at the lofty Portillo Hotel. Snow sport enthusiasts who stay here are serious about hitting the slopes – rooms do not even contain televisions.