With a population of more than 6.3 million, Santiago is one of South America's most modern cities. The infrastructure's excellent. The economy's booming. As the city grows and new skyscrapers leap into the sky, Chileans pay homage to their traditions while proudly supporting progressive art and culture.
In the heart of the city lies the historic Mercado Central, featuring dozens of stalls of freshly caught seafood. We began our last adventure in Chile with a mouth-watering lunch; these were the largest king crabs we'd ever seen!
Tracing all the way back to its Incan history, Chile honors its past by preserving its culture. We marveled at Santiago's gorgeous Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the oldest art museum in Latin America. Santiago's newest major museum opened in 2010: the Museum of Memory and Human Rights. You'll be deeply moved by its exploration of Chile's Pinochet dictatorship.
Chile's arts and crafts draw inspiration from its Incan and Mayan traditions. Today, Santiago's Pueblito Los Dominicos features dozens of artisan workshops, where instructors pass along their skills to a new generation. We marveled at the workmanship, and brought home beautiful handmade gifts for our families and friends.
Valle Nevado, El Colorado and La Parva
Because Valle Nevado sits entirely above the tree line — there are literally no trees here — this is the kind of mountain where you can choose your own adventure. Scan the hills and pick any path where you see snow! You won't be hemmed in by a corridor of tree trunks.
The resort was launched by French entrepreneurs in 1988; staff from Copper Mountain in Colorado helped develop its modern lift systems and an extensive ski school. Today, it welcomes guests from around the world to its three on-site hotels, nine restaurants and pubs, and even its very own neon-lit dance club.
Adjoining the resort, El Colorado and La Parva serve as off-season training grounds for Olympic ski teams. Complimentary one-day lift tickets for these resorts are included in our package. We loved all three resorts on our previous trips, and with a full week in the mountains, it's more than enough time to explore it all.
Chic mountain style
As one of the finest ski hotels in South America, Hotel Valle Nevado features stunning views of a massive, rocky canyon that soaks up warm orange sunlight each afternoon. You'll love the sunrises and sunsets. The hotel features chic, stylish amenities and a staff that's eager to please, and the ski-in, ski-out location can't be beat. The lifts are just outside our door.
A warm welcome for global visitors
Valle Nevado feels like a North American ski resort in many ways. At the base area, you’ll find cool bars, a well-stocked rental facility, and on-site shops from Burton, North Face and all the world's most popular gear outfitters. Trail maps, signs and lifts are well-marked; signs are in Spanish and English.
Level playing field
The terrain at Valle Nevado, El Colorado and La Parva is well suited for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels. So whether you're new to this or you've been shredding since you were five, you'll find that it's easy to have a whole lot of fun here.
At Valle Nevado, the friendly breakfast servers greet you each morning with a warm “buenos dias,” and the hotel's impeccable private ski valets will know you on a first-name basis. The giant outdoor jacuzzi is an inviting, social spot to relax your muscles as the red sun sets into the Andes. You’ll see the same friendly faces here every afternoon.
Scenic vineyards and historic Valparaíso
After a week in the mountains, it's time to explore the beauty of the lower elevations. Chile is one of the world's top wine exporters; the vineyards near Santiago are irrigated by melting snow. Along the coast, the brightly colored colonial homes and cafes on the hills of Valparaíso form a UNESCO World Heritage site.
La cocina chilena
The cuisine of Chile draws from massive agricultural riches and a huge coastline full of fresh fish. But one of our favorite dishes is pastel de choclo, a corn-crusted pot pie that's an ideal winter comfort food.
Off the vine
Chile is the world's fourth largest wine exporter (after France, Italy and Spain), but Chile reserves some of its best wines for local consumption. You'll have the chance to try a glass of supple carménère or its wonderful fruit-forward cabernet sauvignon.
Peruvian or Chilean?
Peruvians love to boast that a pisco sour was invented in Peru, but Chileans drink far more pisco than their northern neighbors; each year, Chile produces more than three times as much of this fermented grape brandy. An authentic drink contains pisco, lime juice, bitters, egg whites and sugar.
Dining in style at Valle Nevado
Our meals at Valle Nevado are included within the trip price, and the menus range from French cooking to Chilean, Italian and American. The chefs here love to show off, especially when it's time for dessert! Yum!
Incredible new friends
SKI BUMS focuses on developing rich, long-lasting friendships that extend beyond the winter. Those new friendships form even more easily when we're discovering the thrills of a new country together. Since our first South American trip in 2008, we've had the chance to meet some truly amazing people on our adventures to to Chile's Valle Nevado and Portillo, and Argentina's San Martin de los Andes and Bariloche.
Come to Chile with us in August
We're experts at designing a vacation that highlights the best parts of Chile, and we can't wait to return this summer! From August 24 to September 2 -- just before Labor Day -- a group of SKI BUMS will once again discover the incredible cuisine, spectacular sights and friendly faces of this South American wonder. Space is limited, so we encourage you to sign up today before it's sold out!