Skiing in Chile: How and Why to Ski at the Centro de Ski El Colorado
Being from Canada, I am a huge ski bum so I was more than excited to be able to try skiing in Chile during my semester abroad. After much waiting, planning and anticipation, my friends and I finally made it up to the Centro de Ski El Colorado yesterday to hit the slopes. The mountain was gorgeous. We got such a sweet blue bird day (blue skies for those of you who don’t speak ski bum) and the view from the top was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I could see right over top of the smog that typically suffocates Santiago and breathing the crisp fresh air was particularly wonderful. Here’s some more information about my experience skiing in Chile, and how you can visit the beautiful Centro de Ski El Colorado.
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The Best Time of Year to Go Skiing in Chile
It is currently late August and while there was a huge dump of snow a few weeks ago, most of it melted by the time we got up to the mountain yesterday. While I still had such an incredible time, not all of the runs were open. The snow conditions definitely vary depending on the year. Honestly, I think we may have just chosen to go on an unlucky weekend, because there was another dump of snow after we went as well.
A simple internet search suggest that the best times to ski are from July to September. However, based on my personal experience, I would suggest you hit the slopes in mid to late July, or early in August. You can also check out this live cam from El Colorado to see what the conditions look like here.
Skiing in Chile: Why Should You Choose to Ski at El Colorado
The three most popular ski resorts near Santiago are El Colorado, Valle Nevado and La Parva. There’s some important differences between each of these mountains. El Colorado is actually the lowest of the three ski hills, reaching a maximum height of 3333 meters above sea level (10,935 feet). This is roughly 300 meters lower than both Valle Nevado and La Parva. However, due to it being slightly lower, the risk of altitude sickness is lower as well.
Despite being a bit lower than the other two mountains, the Centro de Ski El Colorado actually has the most skiable terrain. With over 1300 hectares (3212 acres) of runs to choose from you’re sure to have a great time!
Another reason I chose to ski at El Colorado is because over half of it’s runs are ‘Green’ or easy runs. Normally I prefer a much higher number of more advanced, or ‘Black’ runs but I visited El Colorado with a large group of friends, many of whom had little to no previous skiing experience. This also makes it a great mountain for families who have children that are hoping to learn how to ski as well.
You can check out this website to further search and compare the ski hills I’ve mentioned above. Keep in mind that it’s also fairly easy to get from one ski hill to another, which is nice for people who want to split their time between multiple mountains.
How to Get to the Centro de Ski El Colorado
People who are staying in Santiago can choose either to rent a car to make the trip up the mountain or to take a bus. The Centro de Ski El Colorado is 56 km away from Santiago.
According to the El Colorado website at the time of updating this article, bus fares are $16,000 CP (Chilean Pesos) ($23.51 USD) round trip or $10,000 CP ($14.70 USD) for a one way or single return trip. Most of the bus trips from Santiago start at the Omnium Shopping Center which is in Las Condes. Keep in mind that the bus leaves system only has departures from Santiago between 7:30am and 9:30am (according to website at the time of updating this article) every day. It also only has departures from El Colorado back to the city between 4:00pm and 6:00pm. You can check out this transportation page on the El Colorado website for more bus information.
If you’re hoping to rent a car in Santiago, the rental car website with the highest rating according to Google, is Chile Rent a Car.
Lift Prices at El Colorado
The Centro de Ski El Colorado has two lists of ticket prices based on whether you choose to ski during ‘high season’ or ‘low season’. High season includes holidays, weekends and July 2 to July 27. Low season includes weekdays excluding holidays and excluding the period between July 2 and July 27.
At the time of updating this article, low season day ticket prices range from $14,000 CP ($20.57 USD) to $45,000 CP ($66.13 USD) based on how old you are and whether or not you are a student. High season day ticket prices range from $14,000 CP ($66.13 USD) to $49,500 CP ($72.74 USD) based on how old you are and if you’re a student or not.
Ski & Snowboard Rentals & Lessons at El Colorado
El Colorado offers its’ visitors the opportunity to rent skis, snowboards, boots, helmets and ski poles right on the mountain. Prices vary depending on your age as well as whether or not you choose a one day rental or three day rental. It is also possible to get ski and snowboard tune ups, waxing, edging and general adjustments made on your own equipment at the El Colorado Workshop. Visit this page on the El Colorado website to see a price breakdown for rentals and workshop offers.
You can choose from a wide variety of lessons through the El Colorado Ski and Snowboard School. Private and group classes are available for kids and adults. Prices vary depending on whether it is high or low season, as well as the age of the students and number of students in each class. The class prices do vary quite a lot depending on what kind of class you’re looking for so I would suggest checking out this link to browse the types of classes and their costs.
Accommodation at the Centro de Ski El Colorado
If you choose on-mountain accommodation, you will get some awesome benefits. Not only will you be located conveniently close to where the action happens, you will also receive some discounts. With your hotel booking (according to the website when this article was updated), you will receive one high season day ticket, one lunch at Dal Monte restaurant, plus 50% discounts on lessons and ski and snowboard equipment. However, you must book a minimum of a two night stay at the hotel with a minimum of 4 people. Visit this page of the El Colorado website to find out more about The Colorado All Inclusive.
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