A South American snow-hound’s paradise
On the quieter side
Lagunillas is about 70km southeast of Santiago in the Cajon del Maipo (the Maipo Canyon). Run by the Club Andino de Chile, a mountain recreation and ski club, this is the only non-commercial resort close to the capital. Lagunillas has three lifts and 13 runs, a good ski school, a single refugio (mountain refuge) which can accommodate some 30 skiers, and a convivial family atmosphere, quite different from the larger commercial resorts. The only drawback is its snow: because the resort is only 2,048m above sea level, there is reliable powder only in late June, July and early August, depending on the season.
Skiing around Santiago (and Latin America in general) is an expensive business. In most resorts, a night’s accommodation for two is double what you might pay in a North American or European resort, while lift tickets are generally a third more. If you book a ski week in Portillo, for example, be prepared to pay some 4,000,000 pesos for two in a standard room in Hotel Portillo, with meals and lift tickets included. The same amount might could give you two, perhaps three, weeks of all-inclusive skiing at the smartest resorts in the Rockies. The low-key resort of Lagunillas is the exception to this rule. Here a lift ticket is about half the cost elsewhere and a night’s accommodation in the refugio – with shared bathroom – costs around 55,000 pesos.
If you drive yourself to the snow, you will need to factor in the cost of car hire and snow chains – it is compulsory to put chains on before you arrive at the snowline. For a more affordable trip, shuttle buses run regularly from downtown.