Portillo is South America’s oldest ski resort, begun when the hotel opened in 1949. The hotel is perched at 2,850m, just above a collection of blue huts housing Chilean border troops. It is a remote, steep sided and stunning valley.
The Andes Mountains form the backdrop to Portillo, 5km from the Chile to Argentina border, 160km from Santiago in the Valparaiso region.
The ski resort is dominated by a single, large, yellow hotel and a breathtakingly beautiful frozen lake, the Laguna del Inca. As there are only 450 hotel beds and a limited number of day passes, this results in uncrowded slopes. As you are also bound to run into everybody you meet more than once, it is a very friendly place.
Being in the Southern Hemisphere, Portillo is a draw to national ski racing teams from the Northern Hemisphere when it is their summer.
The snow in Portillo is deep. The quality being likened to that in the Rockies.
Va et Vient Ski Lifts.
Especially designed for avalanche prone areas is the bizarre, but exciting french ski lift called ‘va et vient’ (french for ‘come and go’). Skiers are pulled up the slope, at speed, holding on to button lifts. As setting lift towers is impossible, pulleys are anchored at the top of the mountain.
Portillo has two of these ski lifts for accessing its steep chutes on both sides of the valley. The larger of the two, Roca Jack, hauls five skiers at a time to the top before suddenly coming to a halt. Skiers must ski backwards if they are to get off the lift with dignity!
From both Roca Jack and Condor, the other ‘va et vient’ lift across the Laguna del Inca, you can ski down to the frozen lake and skate back to the ski base.
Portillo is one of the Best Ski Resorts for…
Skiing in Ski Portillo.
Los Andes is the nearest city in Chile and further along the road, past the resort, the border town of Paso Los Libertadores takes you to Argentina.
By Plane. Nearest Airports.
Daily flights to Santiago are available within the Americas. Travelers from further afield will probably have at least one connection.
In season, there is also the option of a helicopter shuttle from Santiago direct to Ski Portillo.
By Train. Nearest Railway Stations.
For the most part, the Chilean rail network is dis-used. Trains are usually for freight only hence it is not an option for getting to Portillo.
By Road. Driving, Bus and Transfers.
You can drive to Portillo from Chile or Argentina. It is important to have a properly equipped vehicle for the mountains; chains, shovels and appropriate clothing.
In Chile, head north from Santiago to Los Andes and then turn into the mountains heading towards Mendoza. Don’t pay the border toll.
In Argentina, from the south of Mendoza head into the mountains towards Los Andes. You’ll have to pay to cross the border.
- Santiago: 160km, 2 hours 15 minutes.
- Los Andes: 70km, 1 hour 15 minutes.
- Mendoza, Argentina: 220km, 3 hours 15 minutes.
There are bookable shuttle services from Santiago Hotels and the Airport on Saturdays and private transfers at other times. Your ski resort package will probably include your transfer.