Snowboarding in the Andes is an exhilarating combination of Latin culture, nightlife and exciting terrain served up on the world’s longest exposed mountain range. Après starts late, very late, with dinner often served from around 10 to 11pm. and dancing from midnight. If you like to combine your love of the party with your love for snow, don’t expect to make first lifts. The three valleys of La Parva, Valle Nevado and El Colorado are located just a few hours East of the country’s capital Santiago. Further South you have the Portillo, Nevados de Chillan and Pucon resorts, which are all situated on active volcanoes.
If you like to combine your love of the party with your love for snow, don’t expect to make first lifts
The smallest of the Three Valleys resorts packs a punch. La Parva resort has great snowboarding from beginner to expert, a decent terrain park, and amazing access to the Andes backcountry. The ski season runs from June to late September, and on a good year can extend into October.
With a vertical drop of nearly 1 kilometer from an altitude of 3,630 meters (11,910 ft). This Andes resort is probably the least busy of all the resorts in the three valleys, so that means less queuing in congested lift lines.
Founded in 1988, Valle Nevado is one of Chile’s more contemporary resorts. The resort’s 9,000 hectares has played host to the Snowboard World Cup. The resort boasts 102 runs, a terrain park, halfpipe, and during the dead of winter heli-boarding is available to take advantage of all that hard to reach back country. There’s a disco, a spa and some good high standard restaurants as well as both hotel and apartment accommodation options.
El Colorado was one of Chile’s first snow resorts. At 3333 metres above sea level, it sits high up in the mountain and stretches over a thousand hectares of land. The area has an average snowfall of five metres. Due to its height the snow tends to be light and fluffy, providing a perfect cushion for the spills of a beginner or the inevitable, cartwheeling thrills off a backcountry kicker.
Many consider Portillo the best snow resort in Chile. Portillo Hotel and resort is a completely self contained snow area and has operated as such for almost seventy years. Portillo, the oldest snow resort in South America sits on the stunning Inca Lagoon, just over 60kms from the valley town of Los Andes. It has been ranked as one of the 10 best ski resorts in the world, albeit a small one. The hotel services only 400 beds, meaning less crowds, and we all like that!
Nevados de Chillan is a resort located on the faces of not one but three active volcanoes. One of the larger resorts in Chile it fields all types of accommodation, from dormitory right through to five star. The facilities on the resort are second to none, a casino, spa and natural hot springs provide much entertainment and relaxation for all the times you’re not on your board. The real feature of the resort is the innumerable off piste tracks, natural terrain and features which have been formed from the ancient lava flows.
Another resort situated on an active volcano is Pucon. Not as large or as overdeveloped as other resorts on this list, Pucon aims for more of a rustic, natural aesthetic. The resort styles itself as a family place, but one of its unique features is that the lava flows have carved out half pipes in the terrain. Every snowboarder should try to get a look at these naturally occurring, shreddable marvels before they hang up their boots. The drawback of Pucon is it’s intermittently working lifts; visiting the resort at the wrong time can mean that a lot of the mountain is inaccessible due to snowed in, or simply broken chairlifts.
Chile is a great way to experience Latin culture while at the same time getting your snowboard fix. There is plenty to choose from, both in terms of snowboarding and nightlife. So what are you waiting for? Check your passport, brush up on your Spanish and head to Chile for a truly unique snowboarding experience.
For more cool Bucket List Adventures check out: Snowboarding Bucket List