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South America

The time and effort involved in traveling to the continent makes the journey a real undertaking – especially when you consider that the only time you can go is during the northern hemisphere summer, between the months of June and October. Once you factor in the cost of the flights, it is easy to see why Argentina and Chile are unlikely to ever challenge the established European and North American resort powerhouses. You've also got to consider the NZ factor. For most people even considering a summer skiing mission (and it is worth underlining what a intrepid minority interest this still is for most skiers), a trip to the antipodes makes more sense. Everybody speaks English, the facilities tend to be world class and the country is utterly beautiful. But to our mind, the decision is less straightforward thanks to some major strings in the South American bow. For starters, the mountains are huge, with a superior vertical drop and guaranteed snowfall. And perhaps even more importantly, the continent doesn't have anything like the same time difference as affects Europe and New Zealand. So while the culture shock might be bigger and the journey sometimes rougher, this is more than compensated for by the incredible powder and backcountry terrain available in the Andes. Equally important is the complete lack of crowds. Compared to Europe, you might as well be on the moon skiing some of these resorts. Add to this a rich and inviting Latin culture, the relatively low cost of living and that crazy late-night party scene and South America begins to take on a whole new dimension. Chile has several good resorts, but we picked Valle Nevado as it i very close to Santiago and has the best infrastructure. There's also some good and relatively cheap heliskiing on offer. Argentina also has several decent resorts, and though Las Leñas is a long way from Buenos Aires and can't match Valle Nevado for convenience, it's probably the best southern hemisphere powder spot on the planet – on its day.

Pros

Cons

 

Southern hemisphere riding, but without the jet lag.

Very little to do in Las Leñas on bad weather days, which are unfortunately pretty frequent.

 

Healthy dash of Latin American culture.

Freestyle facilities leave a lot to be desired.

 

Incredible mountains, with some of the world’s best freeriding terrain.

Resorts are very spread out, meaning that if you go then you’re only realistically going to visit one of them.

 

Cheap.

Long journey times for most visitors.

 

Friendly people, and a great party scene. Don’t expect to get to bed before 0600.

The Andes can be prone to bad weather – storms frequently come in and sit there for days at a stretch.

Country Overview

Find out what it's like to ski or snowboard in 24 countries. The pros and cons, costs, the mountains, the resorts and a whole lot more

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