Looking to escape the heat and humidity of the summer? Just head south. This may sound counterintuitive, but if you’re living in the northern hemisphere during summer, once you cross the equator, you’ll be in the dead of a South American winter. When we think of South America, we often think of gorgeous beaches, the Amazon, and maybe even Patagonia. However, there is an entire of region of snow-capped mountains with amazing skiing spanning the length of the Andes. With powdery, dry snow, these mountains are the perfect destination for professional and novice skiers alike who are looking to hit the slopes in the middle of summer.
Whether it’s your first time thinking about a ski trip in South America, or if you’re a Chilean-slope regular, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best ski spots below the equator.
1. Las Leñas, Argentina
Just by sheer size alone, Las Leñas is the clear winner. With 40,000 acres of perfect white snow (that’s almost 36,200 acres more than North America’s largest resort), Las Leñas is hard to beat. While it’s extremely difficult to reach the resort, requiring connecting flights from Santiago, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina, the trip is definitely worth it. With limited crowds throughout the expansive ski resort, a summer at Las Leñas will be one you won’t soon forget.
2. Ski Arpa, Chile
Just two hours from Santiago, Ski Arpa, is one of the most accessible on this list. In addition, it is renowned for its impeccable backcountry and pristine slopes. Near the foot of the Aconcagua mountain – the tallest mountain outside of Asia – Ski Arpa is a Chilean adventure that is hard to beat.
3. Portillo, Chile
Set well above the tree line, Portillo is surrounded by rocky mountain faces dusted by an always fresh coat of snow. Just a 2.5 hour drive from Santiago, Portillo has unbeatable accommodations, most guests staying for a week or more. If it’s your first time skiing in the region, or if you’re traveling with a family, Portillo definitely has the slopes and amenities to keep everyone happy.
4. Cerro Catedral, Argentina
Cerro Catedral is definitely the place to be, drawing thousands of tourists each season. As the largest ski area in South America, Cerro Catedral is located on the northern edge of Patagonia. Once you come off the slopes, head to the town of Bariloche and dance the night away like a true Argentinean.
5. The Three Valleys, Chile
The Three Valleys (El Colorado, La Parva and Valle Nevado) are a short 45 minute drive from the center of Santiago. An easy day trip from the capital city, The Three Valleys are a popular destination for expats living in Chile. Also an obvious plus, the Three Valleys consistently record some of the highest rates of snowfall in the world.
6. Nevados de Chillan, Chile
Surrounded by a number of hot springs, Nevados de Chillan is the clear choice for anyone looking to relax after a long day on the slopes. Also, Nevados de Chillan is often referred to as the little Las Leñas because of its incredible snow and backcountry terrain.
7. Puma Lodge, Chile
Definitely the most exclusive and luxurious ski resort on the list. Puma Lodge only offers heli-skiing and boasts pristine slopes free of crowds and the many tourists you may find at a number of other ski resorts. An additional selling point is that Puma Lodge is the only 5-star heli-ski resort in the southern hemisphere.
8. Pucón, Chile
Transforming from a summer party-goer’s paradise in the summer to an incredible ski resort in the Chilean winter, Pucón has it all. With incredible 360 degree views of the Andes from the top of many of the ski areas, Pucón’s biggest claim to fame is that it’s not just a mountain. Pucón is an active volcano!
9. Cerro Castor, Argentina
At the southern tip of Patagonia and basically touching Antartica, Cerro Castor is Argentina’s newest ski resort. Cerro Castor is considerably smaller than most of the resorts on this list with just 600 acres of terrain. However, the new slopes will not disappoint with new lodges and modern grooming equipment.
10. Cerro Mirador, Chile
Nestled within the Magellan National Reserve, Cerro Mirador is the southernmost ski location in South America. As one of the only six ski centers in the world with a view to the ocean, Cerro Mirador gets its name from the incredible views that attract throngs of skiers every year.