|Originally posted by Powderdog:
I'd like to hear reports from anyone who skied in Chile or Argentina this past season. I put off my own trip in order to learn to speak Spanish first. I plan to wing it on my own next year and I'd appreciate any advice/recommendations particularly about lodging.
I boarded in both Chile and Argentina in 2000. The best time to go is mid-late August.
Portillo is the best place I went to in Chile, but I also visited Valle Nevado, La Parva and El Colorado. In Argentina I went to Las Lenas which like Portillo is excellent.
Boarding near Santiago - There is a place called Farrelliones at a junction in the Andes just before you reach El Colorado. You can stay there with the lift operators and instructors for next to nothing but it is very cold as the building has poor insulation. There are hotels, mainly in El Colorado, but these are four star or above and so only good if you are not on a budget. You can otherwise take the bus up each day from Santiago but this is a bit of a hastle and to be honest Santiago is a pretty depressing place in winter (in summer it is nice) so it is better to stay in the mountains as you get on the pistes before anyone else. These three resorts are very chalet oriented and there is little apres ski night life. Apres ski mainly occurs in El Colorado but only happens in mid-late August. Most Chileans seem to stay in and have friends round for dinner rather than go out; maybe as it is so bloody cold up there!
Portillo - excellent but pricey. If you have a car you can stay in Los Andes and drive up each day (allow 2hours). Los Andes is cheap but not that great at night. At Portillo there is one expensive tacky hotel but I have head there is a worklers dormitory where you may be able to stay. I seriously recomment Portillo - the powder snow is amazing - even in September!
I stayed in Malargue when I went to Las Lenas which was cheap but expensive compared to Chile, but is probably cheaper now the peso has crashed. Las Lenas is hugely expensive - i.e. like Switzerland. If you board make sure you have one of those silly leashes that attach your boot to your binding. If not they will make you buy one for US$40! Food on the slopes is nicer than you get in the US and much of Europe but is stupidly expensive. You have to go Las Lenas as the skiing there is so good but be prepared to pay through the nose for it.
The biggest hurdle is the distances rather than the lodging. You can drive (I did) but you have to cover crazy distances and you will find yourself speeding on deserted roads at 200+ kmh. Taking a car from Chile to Argentina costs $100 for a permit and is a bit of a headache. The problem is that the roads across the Andes close periodically due to heavy snow - if you have a Chilean car in Argentina and the roads close it can be costly - I got stranded with a Chilean car in Argentina for an extra two weeks - the main road over thew Andes closed for two weeks! This was costly and could have cost me my job.
Speaking Spanish makes life a lot easier but is not necessary. Unless you have oodles of cash I would be tempted to do one country rather than both.
One could do a fly drive where you pick a car up in Mendoza (Arg) and drop it off at Bariloche (Arg). This way you could drive down past Las Lenas stop off for a bit and then continue to Bariloche stopping off at somne other resorts near Bariloche.
Or you could fly to Santiago and vist Portyillo and the three resprts near Santiago and then maybe head down south to Termas de Chillan, Pucon etc (at Termas you can stay in the Chillan to save cash).
Doing the two countries either necessitates a lot of flights or taking a car across borders. Flights are expensive. But if you drive the road may close (unlikely in August or September). Driving also often means a lot of back tracking. But if you can do a circle it could be the best way. If you can drive from Santiago to Portillo to Mendoza to Bariloche then back into the south of Chile to La Hoya, Pucon, then Termas then Santiago you would have a grat trip. That is what I wanted to do but all the passes closed and I had to cross by Portillo in both directions.