The eastern slopes of the Andes mountain range run down the western flank of Argentina. For ski and snowboard enthusiasts, this offers a huge range of options for the southern hemisphere winter, and the best time to visit for reliable snow cover is June through until the end of September. It obviously varies a little between resorts, and the further south you go, the longer the season will be. This article explores some of Argentina's best ski runs.
Location: Region of Mendoza, 56 miles / 92 km west of Mendoza City. (Santiago, Chile is also only 69 miles / 110 km away)
Ski Information: Ski runs to suit of levels with ski classes for beginners and plenty of slopes to keep the advanced level skiers and boarders interested. A good range of accommodation, although it can get very busy in peak season so booking accommodation is advised. Also some good off-piste skiing.
Out of season: If you are in the area out of season, there is still plenty to do. The beautiful scenery offers great trekking, and for more experienced climbers, Aconcagua, South America’s highest peak, is very close by.
Location: Region of Mendoza, 53 miles / 85 km Mendoza City.
Ski Information: A relatively small resort, but due to good value skiing and it’s proximity to Mendoza, it can get busy. Most of the runs are aimed at beginners and intermediate levels, and the more advanced skiers may find a stay here isn’t challenging enough for them. The resort itself has accommodation, although it is also possible to stay in the nearby town of Potrerillos.
Out of season: The town of Potrerillos is a very attractive town and certainly worth a visit out of season. There are lots of outdoor activities like rafting, mountain biking, trekking and horse riding and for those who prefer a more relaxing day, the region of Cuyo the town lies in, is famous for wine production.
Location: In the south of the Mendoza region. The nearest town served by an airport is Malargue which is 44 miles / 70 km away. Malargue has direct flights from Buenos Aires, and in the high season from more cities including Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Ski Information: For many Las Lenas offers the best skiing in South America. A good range of slopes, with 29 runs in total at the resort. It is also possible to explore the off-piste action with heli-skiing available. They also have snow cannons on hand incase the snow conditions aren’t good enough and if a full days skiing isn’t enough, they have some of the runs well illuminated to allow night skiing. Excellent facilities with a range of accommodation at the resort, as well as restaurants, bars and ski schools
Out of season: Like many ski resorts in Argentina Las Lenas has lots of outdoor activities that don’t require snow, to ensure the resort is popular all year round.
Location: Nearest major town is Neuquen which is 219 miles / 350 km away.
Ski Information: Caviahue has only been an established ski resort for a few years now, but it boasts modern infrastructure and a longer ski season than more northerly resorts. It has quickly developed an excellent reputation for Nordic skiing with cross-country skiers traveling here from all over the region.
Out of season: Wonderful scenery, the Copahue Volcano and nearby Hot Springs make Caviahue a great place to visit all year round, although it is certainly more popular during the ski season.
Location: San Martin de los Andes is the nearest town and the area is served by Chapelco Airport.
Ski Information: The snow quality is generally excellent and with 20 runs, there is a good range of options for all levels of skiers. There is some accommodation at the Chapelco ski centre, although most skiers will stay in the nearby town of San Martin de los Andes, which has plenty of accommodation options as well as good nightlife.
Out of season: The town of San Martin de los Andes is very much geared up for tourists all year round. The Lanin National Park boasts wonderful scenery and wildlife and is a constant draw for visitors.
Location: San Carlos de Bariloche is the nearest major town and is 55 miles / 85km away and is served by an airport. The small town of Villa de la Angostura is only a 10 minute drive and a good base to stay for visiting the resort.
Ski Information: The resort has been modernized in recent years, and is now very well equipped with accommodation, ski lifts and all the other amenities you’d expect at a ski resort. Despite it’s altitude being lower than many of the resorts further north, Cerro Bayo has reliable snow fall, and some excellent opportunities for those that enjoy off-piste skiing and snowboarding.
Out of season: Like most of Argentina’s ski resorts the combination of beautiful mountains scenery set in well cared for national parks, means that outdoor activities are popular all year round.
Location: San Carlos de Bariloche is located in the Rio Negro province in Patagonia and has a well served airport.
Ski Information: This resort has undergone huge expansions plans in recent years and is set to take more skiers in 2007 than any other ski resort in Argentina. The accommodation and ski lifts that have been made available ensure that queues will be minimized. The two resorts at Bariloche, Robles and Catedral Mountain can both be skied under one ski pass, and therefore there are plenty of runs to keep all levels interested.
Out of season: The town of Bariloche is a very popular location for travellers all year round. This beautiful region of Argentina is a mecca for those in pursuit of the great outdoors, and the national park of Nahuel Huapi in which Bariloche lies has a huge range of outdoor activities throughout the year.
Location: About a 4-5 hours drive south of San Carlos de Bariloche, and very close to the town of Esquel in the Chubut Province, Patagonia.
Ski Information: Another of Argenina’s ski resorts to receive a recent infrastructure improvement. Although the resort is relatively small compared to Bariloche, it is more than adequate in catering for all levels of skiing. A great place for off-piste skiing, snow mobile trips and Nordic skiing it’s a great base for winter adventure.
Out of season: The usual array of outdoor activities and breathtaking scenery are on offer, and Esquel is often less busy than Bariloche. Fly fishing in the nearby crystal clear waters is a popular excursion in the area.
Location: Mina Uno is located near the extreme south of Patagonia, in the Province of Santa Cruz.
Ski Information: Due to its location, the snowfall is reliable, and the ski season is long. The winter this far south can be very harsh with icy winds. The accommodation available is more basic than other ski resorts in Argentina, but is generally comfortable and clean.
Out of season: Many visitors head down to this part of Argentina out of the ski season. The main attractions include the spectacular Perito Moreno Glacier and whale watching of the Argentine coast.
Argentina offers a wealth of options to the ski and snowboard enthusiast. The slopes of the Andes also give you the opportunity to ski outside of the traditional northern hemisphere ski season. Compared to many of the ski resorts in the northern hemisphere, the price is much more reasonable and the slopes and ski lefts are not as busy. If your trip to these areas does not coincide with the ski season, all these areas offer a fantastic range of outdoor activities set against the backdrop of the spectacular Andes Mountains and are therefore well worth a visit any time of the year.