Advantages great skiing, niice place
Disadvantages long distance between hotel and slopes
|Value for Money|
|Ease of getting around|
I planned on spending a couple of days in the Argentinian ski resort of Chapelco as part of a snowboard trip to Chile. We checked into a hostel, checked out the resort, and then it started snowing… and just didn't stop, the snow gods resetting the conditions to "knee deep powder" every night for a week. It could have been utopia if it wasn't for the agony of stiff muscles and the nagging worry that the road back to Chile was blocked by the storm and my Santiago flight departure was rapidly approaching.I've abandoned a traditional review in favour of taking questions from the floor.
* So where is it then?
The town of San Martin is in the province of Neuquén, 1.575 km SW of Buenos Aires and only 45 km from the Chilean border. You can reach it by flight of bus from the argentinian capital, or by the worlds slowest bus across the border from Pucon in Chile. This route takes you up over a snow-covered mountain pass complete with military checkpoint which always takes at least an hour due to the time zone change ;-).
The ski resort of Chapelco is located about 20km out of town, and can be accessed by bus or hitch hiking, although hitch hiking is a bit slower here than it is in Chile, you may have to wait up to an hour for a ride, although this was in shoulder/low season.
* Very funny young man. I am after an upmarket tour, could this place fit the bill?
Actually sir, I believe it could. Without being able to offer any first hand experiences, there seemed to be any number of large hotels in town, and I witnessed several people smoking big cigars and drinking brandy. In addition, those fur-trimmed all-in-one skisuits sold exclusively to very rich people keen to project the image of "all-the-gear-but-no-idea" were much in evidence in the mountain restaurants. As a bonus, the resort is North facing, so it's you stand an excellent chance of catching the "panda tan." Yes, I believe you will be well served, fat man.
* Keep talking, sunshine
It's proving a popular area, and there are new hostels and hotels opening all the time. I paid 12usd night for a great hostel accommodation, where we met other skiers, who told us about more places to stay and eat. Ours cost 12 usd per night, but I see on the web that prices for budget accommodation in the area are now even lower at 10usd. A good restaurant meal for 2 (inc wine) cost about 60usd, and I bought ski passes daily (or half day passes if I didn't make it up until lunchtime) and in my estimation it's very cheap for the standard of the resort.
* It takes more than lifts to make a good holiday though.
Yes it does, and there is a lot of attention to detail in this place. For those who need to ditch their kids before hitting the slopes, there are a range of options. teenagers can be left by the sound system and snowskate park, if you can drag them out of the terrain park area with all the jumps in. There is a "snow garden" for teaching under 5's to ski or snowboard, a nursery for the 1-3's, and a crèche for toddlers.
* I don't ski, how does my week look?
There are no shortage of options for you dear. You could try a dogsled ride along wooded trails, snowshoe walking, or a snowmobile trip. A hike round the lake is also a nice relaxing option. What's that? Feeling the need for a sit down at the mere thought of all that exercise? No problem. There are plenty of places serving the traditional local beverage of "Mate", pronounced to rhyme with Latte even though it's a green tea, and a cup of that will revitalise you.
* I wanna go this winter! - how do I book?
Easy tiger - its south of the equator so the season there is finishing up now (Oct), and wont start again until next July, so you'll have to exercise a little self control. You can use the time to find out more and book accommodation etc through these pages:
Chapelco resort website at http://www.cerrochapelco.com/english/presentacion.html
San Martin town at http://sanmartindelosandes.com
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