If you are from the Northern Hemisphere, a July vacation probably means sitting on a beach somewhere.  That sounds great to most people but if your idea of the perfect vacation is more to the tune of flying down a mountain, through fresh snow powder, you’ll want to head south come your summer vacation.  Grab your skis and book a ticket to South America.

Skiing in the Andes

Europe has the Alps, North America has the Rockies, and South America has the Andes.  Running nearly the whole length of the continent, the Andes Mountains have some of the world’s best skiing conditions but you wouldn’t know it at first glance.  Skiing here has never really taken off.  Lots of people do ski but it doesn’t have the same far reaching appeal as it does in Europe and the United States.  While that means there are fewer ski resort options, it also means you have some great hidden gems.

All the major ski resorts are situated in the Andes along the border of Argentina and Chile.  Both countries have excellent skiing options, though the resorts in Chile are a bit more accessible with easy access from the capital city of Santiago.  In Argentina, most international visitors fly into Buenos Aires before catching a second flight to the city of Bariloche, which is at the heart of the main ski region.

Ski resorts in South America are similar to what you will find in other ski regions of the world and you can expect to find ski rental options, ski instructors, and good ski resort lodging accommodations.  You ski options range from beginner runs to backcountry skiing and even glacier skiing.  Many ski resort areas have excellent advanced runs but you can also hire guides to take you into the best of the backcountry skiing areas.

When to Go

The best part about skiing in South America has to be the timing.  While everyone up north has packed away the skis for the season, you can hop on a plane and extend your ski season all summer long.  There are occasionally great snowfalls as early as the beginning of June but if you are planning a trip, you should aim to visit during July and August, when you’ll have the best chance for powder storms.  The skiing conditions drop off quickly and by the end of September ski resorts start closing up for the year.

Chile Ski Resorts

In Chile you have a great number of ski resort options within a few hours of Santiago.  For less crowded runs, a good option is Termas de Chillan which is also famous for hot springs – the perfect way to relax after a day of skiing.  The Tres Valle, consisting of three different ski resorts that can all be visiting under the same lift ticket,  is the largest ski area in South America with enough options to keep even the most experienced skier busy for a full week’s vacation.

Argentina Ski Resorts

Arguably some of the best skiing in Argentina is at Las Leñas, famous for big-mountain skiing and a world class backcountry. The resort was even the location of the Red Bull invite-only big-mountain contest – Powder Disorder.  For great skiing and good nightlife, Cerro Catedral near the city of Bariloche is perfect.  Here you’ll find runs for every skill level and a vibrant party life once you are off the slopes.

Photo Credit: Massmo Relsig via photopin cc

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