Chill South American Ski Resorts in Chile And Argentina - My Family Travels

Find snow sports in “summer” at top South American ski resorts in the Southern Hemisphere. Long known to international elite athletes, the names Portillo, Valle Nevado and Bariloche are now on the radar as top family mountain resorts in Chile and Argentina.

Lone skier finds perfect powder at Valle Nevado in Chile. Photo c. Valle Nevado - south american ski resorts
A skier finds perfect powder at Valle Nevado, one of the top South American ski resorts in Chile. Photo c. Valle Nevado

No matter how avid the skiers in your family, you might not think about hitting the slopes in August if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. Yet despite the summer heat above, winter skiers can find refuge on the flip side in the Southern Hemisphere, where it actually is winter.

In fact, from June to mid-October, the Andes Mountains are at the height of their snowsports season. Get help navigating the choices from Turismo Chile and Visit Argentina, which are both helpful resources for the winter sports planner.

Take a look at the programs in some of the most popular South American ski resorts. Be sure to tune up your rusty Spanish before you take off!

Ski Portillo, A Top South American Ski Resort in Chile

Family in ski gear and coats sitting on a chairlift rising above the ski resort of Portillo in Chile. - south american ski resorts
Portillo is a popular resort for families with a large base village hotel at the foothills of the Andes Mountains. Photo c. Ski Portillo.

Portillo is a South American ski resort that’s been popular for more than six decades, located on Laguna del Inca near Chile’s border with Argentina. Nestled in the Cordillera de los Andes mountains, it’s about 100 miles from the capital Santiago. Go for its stunning mountain views, relaxed ambiance, and variety of off-piste terrain. Expect a robust dining and après ski scene since Chile is known for its fine red wines.

Lodging options will suit all budgets. Whether you want that iconic, slopeside luxury resort, a chalet, ski lodge or ski hostel, they’ve got it. As an all-inclusive ski resort, prices include lodging, unlimited lift access for eight days, four meals daily, and use of all hotel facilities. Choose between Portillo’s Classic 7 Night Ski-Week (the best value) or the shorter 3 or 4 Night Mini-Week packages.

Discover high-quality skiing and gear in a relaxed atmosphere at Portillo. It’s never very crowded either because the number of day visitors is limited by ticket sales. According to the pro’s at, who book South American skiing trips often, late July and late August are usually the best times for fresh powder.

South American Ski Resorts Offer Family Deals at Portillo

The 123-room Hotel Portillo is the main resort, a contemporary, purpose-built hotel at the mountain’s base. After a long ski day, take advantage of a large, outdoor heated pool, hot tub, and fitness center. Other lodging options cover lower price points so the Octagon and Inca Lodges feature family specials. True budget watchers should inquire about facilities that include dorm-like housing during the June 22-September 28, 2024 season.

Over the years, different weeks are promoted with Portillo’s Kids Ski Free packages, when every father or mother may bring one child 4-11 years old for free lodging, skiing, and meals. (Most packages are organized for a Saturday-Saturday stay). The last two weeks of July are student holidays, so all resorts book up – and rates rise — because local families ski at that time.

Portillo also has a robust daycare system and private babysitting for infants through 7 years old. Free daycare is available on the mountain for ages 4-7, daily between 9am and 8pm. Babies and toddlers up to 3 years of age are taken care of in groups, for a fee, during the same hours. Private babysitting is available at an additional cost and must be requested 24 hours  in advance. In addition to a variety of lessons, Portillo has a summer Ski Racing Camp featuring ski coaching for ages 12-16.

Valle Nevado, A Star in Chile

Modern base village of Valle Nevado ski resort in Chile. - south american ski resorts
Several contemporary hotels and lodges cluster around the ski resort base village of Valle Nevado. Photo c. Valle Nevado

Another great place to ski is Valle Nevado. One of Family Travel Forum’s intrepid ski writers made it south to Valle Nevado just before Chile closed its border due to the global pandemic. We are delighted he was able to update the skiing at Valle Nevado information. The resort opens June through October, 2024, and remains open till November if there’s plenty of snow.

Look for June and September to be the best value seasons, although kids under 5 can stay free in parents’ rooms all season. Valle Nevado works with the Power Pass and IKON Pass (a season pass issued by Alterra Mountain Company.) Passholder perks may include 10% off hotel, lift ticket and gear rental packages.

Bariloche, Argentina Among Top South American Ski Regions

Family two-bedroom suite at Hotel Nevada near the ski resort of Bariloche in Argentina. - south american ski resorts
A two-bedroom suite at the Hotel Nevada welcomes families skiing in South America at the nearby the ski resort of Bariloche in Argentina.

Consider a different snowsports adventure at Bariloche in the state of Rio Negro. Formally known as Catedral Alta Patagonia, the top resort is about 18 km outside the popular lakefront town of San Carlos de Bariloche, a small city that has welcomed tourists for more than 80 years. Catedral Alta Patagonia, or Cerro Catedral as it’s called by locals, is based at 3,380 feet of altitude in the Andes. You’ll have to wait till 2025, however, to explore its 1,482 acres of skiable terrain, 53 trails and 39 lifts, some ascending to 6,725 feet. The resort is closed for construction during the 2024 season.

However, everyone in the family can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, sledding and snowmobile daytrips at Perito Moreno Hill. This smaller resort in also in Rio Negro. July is the busiest time for snowsports at Argentine Patagonia resorts. At that time, you’ll find even the newest high-speed, four-seater lifts gets busy.

Choose any hotel in the region – and features several — because kids under age 3 stay free at all. Toddlers ages 3-5 years are considered infants, so, in the past, their ski pass included daily access to the mountain’s nursery. Kids 6-11 pay rates as minors, ages 12-64 pay adult rates, and skiers over 70 are free of charge. The popular, family-owned Hotel Nevada has served as a gateway to the mountain for nearly three generations. In June or August, look for room specials that include daily breakfast. Or, grab special rates on connecting rooms for larger families. Children 4-12 years old get a separate room with a private bath. Don’t forget there are free movies shown in the hotel’s screening room.

More Southern Ski Resorts Near Bariloche

Check out more South American ski resorts in Argentina’s chic mountain getaway. It’s about a 2.5-hour flight from Buenos Aires so allow time to explore the region.

Try a much smaller ski hill, Cerro Bayo, if you want a variety of terrain for different skill levels. It’s recently become a more upscale, boutique ski experience according to Powderhounds. However, it’s said to boast incredible views of the Andes and below, Lake Nahuel Huapi.

The best news is that Cerro Bayo is conveniently located right outside Villa La Angostura. Near Cerro Catedral, Cerro Bayo boasts 25 marked runs and 16 lifts as well as several off-piste runs for extreme skiers.

Another Must See: A Side Trip to Patagonia

Two hikers in Torres del Paine, Patagonia, on an Explora tour.
Hikers enjoying mountain views in Torres del Paine, Patagonia, on an Explora tour. Photo c. Explora

Argentina is a great destination, especially if you tire of the international sameness of South American ski resorts. The family with more time to travel must visit Patagonia, a fascinating land of many natural delights. Given a few weeks and some guidance, you can plan a scenic multisport tour. Include as many as you can of hiking, climbing, cycling, 4×4 cruising, horseback riding, or fishing adventures. Go in summer (winter in the northern hemisphere) for kayaking, rafting, canopy tours, windsurfing, and more.

Spend time at an estancia, or working ranch, to see the contrast between the region’s abundant farm life and sophisticated cities like Buenos Aires. At some estancias, guests may participate in sheep shearing and horseback riding. Near the Rio Limay in the Neuquen province, there’s an active dinosaur excavation site where paleontologists are currently at work. Many years ago, the Argentinosaurus was discovered here, a dinosaur believed to be the largest animal to have ever walked the earth, weighing in at over 100 tons and measuring about 123 feet in length.

Of course, the region is also a gateway to the South Pole and its expensive cruise opportunities. Your family may be content with just a visit to the Perito Moreno glacier (three miles wide and 60 meters above the lake surface), part of the Patagonian ice field. For more information on regional sightseeing, check out Explora’s offerings.

Tips and Recommendations for South American Ski Resorts:

1. Choose the Right Season: South American ski resorts shine from June to September during the winter season when the snow is abundant and slopes are in top condition.

2. Proper Packing: Pack essential cold-weather gear, including thermal layers, waterproof outerwear, insulated gloves, sunscreen, and sunglasses. High-altitude sun can be intense.

3. Altitude Adjustment: Many resorts are at high altitudes. Take it slow initially to acclimatize properly, stay hydrated, and get enough rest.

4. Local Cuisine: Embrace the local flavors of South American cuisine. Explore traditional dishes and beverages for a cultural culinary experience.

5. Local Guidance: Consider hiring a local guide or instructor, especially if you’re a beginner or unfamiliar with the terrain. They can enhance your safety and enjoyment.

6. Travel Insurance: Prioritize comprehensive travel insurance that covers skiing and potential emergencies. Medical facilities may be limited in remote mountain areas.

7. Respect the Environment: Practice responsible skiing by following Leave No Trace principles. Support resorts that prioritize sustainability and eco-friendly practices.

8. Exploration Beyond Slopes: South America offers captivating cultural and natural attractions. Explore nearby towns, markets, and natural wonders for a well-rounded trip.

These tips will help you prepare for an exceptional skiing adventure in South American ski resorts, making the most of your winter getaway.


When is the best time to visit South American ski resorts for skiing?

The prime skiing season in South America typically runs from June to September, during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter months, when the resorts have the best snow conditions.

What should I pack for a ski trip to South America?

Pack essential cold-weather gear, including thermal layers, waterproof outerwear, insulated gloves, sunscreen, and sunglasses. High-altitude sun can be intense.

Do I need to worry about altitude sickness when skiing in South America?

Yes, some resorts are at high altitudes. It’s advisable to acclimatize properly by staying hydrated, taking it easy initially, and consulting a healthcare professional if you have concerns.

What local cuisine should I try while skiing in South America?

South America offers diverse and delicious cuisine. Don’t miss trying local dishes like empanadas, ceviche, and Chilean or Argentine barbecue. Explore regional specialties.

Is English widely spoken at South American ski resorts?

While English is spoken at some resorts, it’s helpful to know basic Spanish or Portuguese, depending on the region, for better communication with locals.

Should I hire a ski instructor or guide, especially if I’m a beginner?

It’s a good idea, especially if you’re new to the area or skiing in South America. Local guides can enhance your safety and provide valuable insights into the terrain.

If you liked this article about South American ski resorts, consider checking out these other great picks below! –

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1 Reply to “Chill South American Ski Resorts in Chile And Argentina”

  • Celeste Hedequist

    Picture this: snow-capped peaks, crisp air, and the thrill of gliding down pristine slopes. That’s what awaits at South America’s ski resorts. From Chile’s Portillo to Argentina’s Cerro Catedral, these resorts weave magic for snow enthusiasts. So grab your gear, chase the powder, and let the Andes embrace you!

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