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Valle Nevado

Valle is numero uno among the ski resorts below the equator, bringing modern lifts and fine dining to a lofty perch in the Andes mountains. Serious skiers will love it just as much as cerveza-sipping sunbathers for summer skiing. Not to be confused with France’s Trois Vallees, the Tres Valles pass here opens up 7000 acres and two neighbouring resorts.

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

At a glance: • Summer skiing • All-inclusive hotels

Great for: • Intermediates • Snowboarding • Off-piste

Valle is numero uno among the ski resorts below the equator, bringing modern lifts and fine dining to a lofty perch in the Andes mountains. Serious skiers will love it just as much as cerveza-sipping sunbathers for summer skiing. Not to be confused with France’s Trois Vallees, the Tres Valles pass here opens up 7000 acres and two neighbouring resorts.

Valle Nevado Resort

Valle Nevado (pronounce it “va-ye nevado”) is part of the Tres Valles along with neighbouring resorts La Parva and El Colorado, which combined make up the largest terrain in all South America, a winter kingdom of over 7000 acres. The Andes were never known for being small, and this resort sits at an eye-watering 9843ft above sea level. Its skiable peaks reach 12,040ft and in the background, white, treeless crags soar up to 17,800ft. You’re up in the gods here, and opening the curtains each morning takes your breath away (if altitude sickness doesn’t - to counteract the effect, the local clinic recommends lots of fluids).

The name of this region may be ringing bells. Tres Valles translates as “Three Valleys”, just like everyone’s favourite French ski area. This is purely coincidence, but it’s a fact that Valle Nevado was originally headed by a French businessman and largely inspired by resorts like Les Arcs. The influence is obvious – take the fact that Valle has the most advanced lift system in South America, including the only high-speed detachable quad and ski gondola. In general, there’s an international vibe about the place – the ski school speaks eight languages and many menus are in at least three.

There’s an upscale feel to Valle, a favourite with weekenders from capital, Santiago. The upper base “village” clinging to the top of a mountain ridge, consists of apartments, a mini mall and three big hotels – with all-inclusive packages and some super fine food between them. It’s small, but it isn’t quiet. Thumping basses provide the backing tune, and there are more than enough sun-blasted decks to go around, a spa too and one very popular outdoor hot tub, though “tub” doesn’t do justice to this oasis…

Did you SNO? The Inca Valley is where the El Plomo boy – a mummified Inca child was discovered in 1954, giving a sense of the immense history of the area.

Stats & FAQ

Location: Andes, Chile

Established: 1988

Open: June - October

Downhill: 2200 acres / 45km

Nearest Airport & Transfer Time:
Santiago International Airport (SCL)46km / 29 miles, 90 minutes
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced
  • 10%

  • 69%

  • 21%

Top Altitude:12,040ft / 3670m
Bottom Altitude:9383ft / 2860m
Resort Altitude:9843ft / 3025m
Longest run:2km
Slope Orientation:S E
Vertical Drop:2567ft / 810m
Skiable Vertical:
Night Skiing:No
Glacier:Yes
Downhill Runs:2200 acres / 45km
Beginner slopes:10%
Intermediate:69%
Advanced slopes:21%
Lift Pass Price: 48,000 Chilean Peso (Adult 1 day)
Nearby resorts: Portillo

Skiing/BoardingSkiing in Valle Nevado

The Tres Valles pass accesses 7000 acres, but Valle’s own 2200 has plenty to keep you busy. Most of the terrain is right on the mark for intermediate-to-advanced skiers, who’ll love the groomed cruisers here. More extreme off-piste experiences await on the natural half-pipes and gullies of this treeless valley, or on guided backcountry and heli-skiing tours.

Only 10% of Valle’s terrain is rated green, but this isn’t necessarily the time in your ski career that you need mile after mile. Conveniently adjacent to the hotels is the “Baby” slope for kids and novices. At the top of the gondola there are a couple of slopes for first timers and from the Mirador chair, long green Camino Bajo to test your thighs on. Learn-to-ski packages of various types have always been an economical way to test out the sport here.

In Spanish style, Valle splits its piste map into green, blue, red and black trails, with blue being “intermediate” and red “advanced”. 36% of the trails are officially rated blue and 33% red, but in truth most of the latter won’t give an intermediate much trouble. This means 66% of the groomers are yours. For views that go on for days, check out long wide back-bowl trails Lazo and the Vals, or Sol which swoops down a 2500ft vertical.

There are some cracking black runs here and the higher peaks are mostly black-rated. Shake offers a lot of fun for some speedy turns and Adrenalina a steep pitch. But the best bits by far are off-piste. In-bound, great lines can be found off the Andes Express chair lift to the skiers’ right of Sol. Out-of-bounds, Santa Teresita on the way over to El Colorado is an extremely gnarly ride and best with a guide.

Valle was the first Chilean ski resort to open an FIS-standard Snowboard Park and there’s an FIS standard boarder cross course. You’ll even find Burton’s first Chilean Learn to Ride program here – all making this probably the best place to board in the continent.

Valle Nevado Apres Ski

It’s said that the vibe here all depends on how many Brazilians are in town... They bring the buzz, starting out in the massive Jacuzzi outside the Mirador del Ploma. This is so big the resort often sets up an overhead volleyball net for a few slam dunks – which all seems like a good idea after a few Pisco Sours, the Chilean tipple of choice. Valle’s 4 bars have plenty going on, with lots of live DJs and cocktail bars where you can boogie while the sun goes down. But there are also quieter spots like the bar in the Puerta del Sol, with hot chocolates and Cuban mojitos. For some after dinner razzle dazzling, make like the Brazilians and head to Pub Tres Puntas for live music, karaoke, and a whole lot of dancing.

If you aren’t on an all-inclusive package, there are restaurants between the hotels to keep you sated a la carte style. Fourchette is the crowning glory, with artistic gourmet creations and lush views. Check out Don Giovanni for trusty Italian fare, or Sur for a taste of Chilean cuisine. On the slopes, don’t miss sweet treats from Havanna at Bajo Cero at the base of the Andes express.

This high up, there’s a lack of woodlands for adventures like sleigh rides, but you’ll find tandem paragliding to fly higher than an eagle. You will also find a spa, yoga, a cinema and the Kids Zone to enjoy being idle in until the sun once again shines.

Best time to go

Best time to ski Valle Nevado

When is the best time to ski Valle Nevado?

The soaring elevation here ensures reasonable snow conditions throughout the June -October season, despite the fact this resort sees so much sun – smiling on the valley about 80% of the year. Annual average snowfall weighs in at a respectable 275 inches (700cm), and there’s top quality snowmaking to top things up. Everything is backwards down here, and south-facing slopes, which Valle has the most of, are shadiest and best for preserving snow. Powder days can be epic due to prevailing winds that carry in snow from the surrounding resorts. Sucks to be them - often this is of the perfect sugary, dry, “Rockies” consistency.

Though hard to get your head around, August is the height of the ski season, and the best time to come if you want to catch a powder day.

Without trees for protection, winds can be fierce so don’t be fooled by the bright blue skies into thinking you won’t need to wrap up. Considering the Tres Valles resorts sit at such dizzying heights, the air is a little thin and you’ll want to take precautions against altitude sickness like drinking lots of water and resting up if dizziness kicks in.

Peak Dates

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Families in Valle Nevado

Kids love feeling like they’re on top of the world at sunny Valle and the resort wants to make sure they have a blast when they get here. They offer weekly events like a torchlit parade, family BBQs with a DJ at the on-mountain restaurant, and igloo building expeditions, involving trekking out under the stars and learning about the constellations. For some indoor fun, the Kids Zone has all the stuff that goes down well, like Wii’s and Guitar Hero.

Daycare is available to all for ages 4 to 7, while the hotels have often offered complimentary care in their packages for a wider age range. If the youngsters are ready to get out in Valle’s pristine powder, lessons are offered in the specially designed Snow Garden for ages 4 to 7 and older kids can join private or group classes.

GroupsGroup Holidays Valle Nevado

If you’re a skiing or boarding crowd looking to get in some extra practice while the Northern hemisphere’s out of action - or just after the unique experience of summer on the slopes - Valle’s one of the best for summer skiing. It has Chile’s best lift system, and 2200 acres with all variety of runs, even more if you upgrade to the Three Valley’s 7000.

Making the deal even sweeter, the resort has been known to offer groups special weekly races, family fun like big BBQs with DJs, and even early lift services, so that you’re first out on a powder day.

The all-inclusive hotels take the hassle out of travelling en masse – neatly sidestepping debates about where you’ll be eating for dinner and how the bill’s being split.

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