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About 2 hours east of Santiago are the ski resorts of La Parva, El Colorado and Valle Nevado. All 3 resorts are connected (you can ski between them if you have the right pass) and there are plenty of runs and some world-class off-piste. You can make the trip up and down from Santiago in a day but its worth taking two (at least) if you can ski or snowboard. As well as the resorts, there is a small town called Farrellones located next to the resort of El Colorado. You can walk from Farrellones to the lowest lift at el colorado, from where the lift attendants will let you on if you promise to buy a lift pass when you get off - at the resort proper. Be warned though - it's a button lift.
You can hire ski and snowboard equipment at any of the resorts, but neither equipment hire nor lift passes come cheap. Ski-ing is very much for the elite in Chile and this is reflected in the prices.
There is a daily bus service up from Santiago but its much more common to hitchhike to and from the resorts. Take some warm clothes as you will probably be riding in the back of a pickup.
If you want to stay longer, there are a couple of hostels in Farrellones, but you will need to speak spanish to get the best deals. There is also an internet cafe in farellones and a bar in El Colorado, but there is no European-style apres-ski culture in Chile. If you are out to get drunk there is a good chance you will be doing it with about 10 other tourists, whilst being watched by upwards of 50 chilenos. Not that this is any reason to hold back.
Food options are typical for a ski resort, but there aren't many choices. It isn't a gourmet paradise, that's for sure.
Away from the slopes, the resorts have a charm of their own, especially La Parva, El Colorado and Farrellones, which are more like traditional chilean villages than ski resorts. Its still possible tostop off right next to the lifts and sit in a tiny wooden hut with room for only one table, from which you can watch an old lady toast you a sandwich for breakfast on her equally old gas stove. And the sunsets over Santiago? The only positive aspect of all that smog, thats for sure. La Parva is a bit more modern and I didn't spend so much time there, so I won't comment further.
The biggest bonus, however, is that a lot of the locals stick to the pistes, leaving the powder for the visitors. If you are prepared to hike the off piste is better than whistler, in my opinion (but without the trees). In summary, If you love skiing or snowboarding you are going to enjoy the days. If you love travelling in South America you will love the resorts, the hitchhiking culture, and the scenery. If you get lucky with the snow you may go for a weekend and stay for a fortnight. I have.
Hi and welcome to Ciao. I wish I could rate this VH as others have done, but it really tells me nothing about Santiago other than the skiing to be had away from the city. Strictly speaking, it's Off Topic, and, ideally, you should ask Ciao to create a new product category for Chilean skiing resorts. Duncan
ray52 05.07.2005 22:05
Hi and a warm welcome to ciao. Some great info there in your first, well-written review. I hope you enjoy the ciao experience, as I do. Ray
bingbong 05.07.2005 20:18
Never thought of this as a place to go skiing. anna x