12 Days / From $6,499. Early Bird Rate. / Call: 1-888-565-7158
Group size: 8 maximum. Solo travelers welcome.
August 28-September 8
Reserve This Trip
Get a taste of snow covered peaks in both Chile and Argentina on this Andes crossing adventure that features lift assisted ski touring, adventure cat skiing, and off-piste and backcountry powder hunting from Portillo to Las Lenas. Our 12-day itinerary allows guests to really get into the rhythm of skiing and riding in South America while racking up some vertical along the way. Stops include Valle Nevado, Portillo, La Parva, El Colorado, Cat Skiing at Arpa and of course legendary Las Lenas.
From our priority lift line access at Las Lenas to endless backcountry options in the 3 Valleys this tour delivers the goods. The round trip flight from Santiago to Mendoza is included in the price along with all lift tickets, private transportation, comfortable lodging, breakfasts/dinners, and 2 bilingual,certified ski guides.
Put the guidebooks and stress of planning away to come ski and ride with the best. Book a spot on the Frontier Las Lenas while there is still availability.
- Discover the best free riding and lift accessed ski touring in two amazing Andean countries
- All the details of the trip are planned and ready. Just show up and ride
- Industry leading 4 to 1 client to guide ratio. No more than 8 clients per trip!
- 2 certified guides on every trip. Lead ski guides are certified by the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association (IFMGA), the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG), or the Argentine Mountain Guide Association (AAGM). Meet our guides
- Private transportation along with the RT air ticket from Santiago-Mendoza included
- Lodging and restaurants selected for real cultural immersion
- Priority lift line access in Las Lenas. Skip the line up and ride more powder!
- Full day of adventure cat skiing in Chile at Arpa and optional cat skiing in Las Lenas
- Make new friends from around the world.
- Fun nightlife in Farellones, Mendoza and Las Lenas.
PowderQuest was wicked. On some days it was as if PowderQuest had rented out the total mountain. The one thing that David did not warn us about was that the hotels and food was going to be top quality. The tour was worth the time and money even without the riding! – Simon Walsh, Frontier-Las Lenas trip guest
Starts: Santiago, Chile (airport code SCL)
Ends: Santiago, Chile or Mendoza, Argentina, your choice!
Day 1-2: Arrive to Santiago, Chile International Airport by 9:00 AM. Meet up with the group and PowderQuest guides, board the private minibus and it is off to the mountains. Check into Powder Lodge in the mountain town of Farellones and get ready to ski and snowboard the 3 mountains (Valle Nevado, La Parva or El Colorado). On day 1 we warm up with a few laps and an avalanche safety session. PowderQuest guides will evaluate the conditions and decide which resort to visit each day. Apres-Ski with Christian, our host, at the Lodge with appetizers, beverages and wood fired sauna or hot-tub. Dinner with tasty Chilean wine followed by a choice to stay in and get some sleep or venture out to one of the nearby bars to mix with the friendly locals.
Day 3: After a hearty breakfast we head off for our last day around Farellones with over 25,000 acres of inbounds terrain combined with endless backcountry terrain, the guides will continue to find the best snow possible. In the afternoon we road trip to our next destination, the valley of San Esteban. Check into our cozy lodging located on a classic vineyard. Spend the evening over some wine produced from the vines just outside your hotel door and an authentic Chilean style dinner served by our amazing hosts.
Day 4: After breakfast the group heads up to ski Portillo and its famous terrain. Using the local knowledge of your PowderQuest guides you will get the most of what terrain Portillo has to offer. Finish with an après ski at Tio Bob’s and enjoy some sunshine on the deck overlooking the beautiful Inca Lagoon before heading back to the valley for another amazing dinner.
Day 5: Fuel up with breakfast before heading out for our full snow cat accessed adventure skiing day at Ski Arpa. Reservation only, this private playground is owned by Anton Sponar and his son. They specialize in delivering adventure on their rustic mountain top paradise. The road up to access Arpa is an adventure in itself! Enjoy a cold local beer at their refugio while you look up at your lines at the end of the day. Dinner and over night back at our hotel.
Day 6: Return to the airport after breakfast and head off to a short 50 minute flight to Mendoza, Argentina up and over the mighty Andes. Mendoza is one of the main wine regions of the world and the setting is beautiful and memorable, even in the winter. Check into our hotel and head out for a lively dinner on the town.
Day 7: Head to Las Lenas following breakfast. The day trip includes an unforgettable lunch stop at a beautiful high end local vineyard with wine tasting. Check into your accommodation in Las Lenas, unpack and meet for dinner to talk about what is going down over the next several days in the ultimate South America ski and snowboard backcountry mecca.
Day 8-11: Focus on finding the best possible conditions and exploration. From the 4,000ft Eduardo’s lap on the front side to exploring lines through “El Collar (the necklace)” get ready to take full advantage of the extensive terrain options available. We team up with Expedition Las Lenas to access cat skiing, and get lift line priority access. The ski touring options here will get us to some outstanding terrain. Optional evenings out in Las Lenas can include a trip to the casino, beers and pool/foosball, karaoke, the wine bar, and full on late night discos.
Day 12: Up for our last breakfast in the Andes before we head off for our road-trip back to Mendoza to connect to Santiago and international flights home this evening. We are scheduled on LAN Airlines to arrive to Santiago airport at 6:20 PM. Please schedule your return flight home accordingly.
Enjoy your vacation and concentrate on the adventure and brilliant culture. We take care of the rest!
- Full time bilingual ski guides/hosts
- Ski lift tickets
- Adventure cat skiing in Arpa
- Lift line priority in Las Lenas
- Avalanche safety introduction
- Off-Piste and Backcountry guiding
- Comfortable lodging, private bath
- Delicious breakfasts and dinners
- Red wine, mineral water at dinner
- Private transportation
- Flight Santiago Chile-Mendoza, Argentina round trip
You are responsible for your inbound and outbound international flights (our agents can assist you), potential overweight baggage fees on included flight (Allowance of 1 bag, 23 Kg (50 lbs) total), required travel insurance and lunches.
- Backcountry touring skis or splitboard
- Touring skins, ski/splitboard crampons. You do not need boot crampons.
- Backpack (28-35 liter) with external harness straps for carrying skis or board
- *Digital avalanche transceiver
- *Avalanche snow shovel
- *Avalanche probe
- Collapsible trekking poles for snowboarders
*Avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe are available to rent. $140 for the full kit or $50 per item.
We do not have backpacks or trekking poles for rent. We suggest the 2017 Dakine Heli Pro II 28 Liters with deployable helmet carry if you are looking to purchase a new pack.
If you need to rent touring skis or a splitboard please contact us for details.
Booking This Trip
$6,499 Early Bird Special per person, based on twin or double share occupancy, private bath.
Solo travelers will be paired with another guest in a twin share room, private bath, or if you prefer more privacy, we have a few single rooms available for a $2,200 upgrade.
Payment: A 30% deposit is required at time of reservation. Final payments are due 60 days before trip departure. We accept most major credit cards, PayPal, E-Checks (ACH), and bank wires.
Discounts: Save $100 when paying this trip via domestic bank wire or E-Checks (ACH). Discount is applied to your final payment. Both the deposit and final payment must be paid via wire or E-Check to receive the discount.
- Solo travelers as well as small groups of 2 or more guests are welcome!
- If we have less than 5 guests sign up, the trip will have one guide. We require a minimum of 4 total guest to operate the trip.
- When booking your trip you need to agree to our Terms and Conditions and Trip Release Waiver. You will need to sign the Release Waiver at the start of the trip with your guides.
Arriving and Departing- Airport Details
You need to fly into and out of Santiago, Chile (airport code SCL). See this trips itinerary in the Overview tab for details on when to schedule your arrival and departure. We have travel agents we can recommend to help you with your flight reservations. Contact us for their info.
Meeting The Guides
Your guides will meet you at the Santiago airport around 10:00 AM the first day of the tour. An official meeting time and place will be emailed to you a few weeks before the tour. On the last day of the tour, we have a return flight from Mendoza, Argentina to Santiago airport, getting us there in time to meet most evening flights out of Chile.
Extending Your Stay
Extending your stay is a great way to get in a few more powder days, check out the urban culture of Santiago, visit a classic vineyard, the coast, Easter Island more. See the Suggested Add-Ons Tab for suggestions.
Lift Assisted Touring Suggested Packing List
- Alpine Touring or Randonee Ski set up (We suggest an “all mountain” type ski with a waist between 85 to 110mm)
- Alpine Touring bindings
- Climbing skins (Adhesive glue type)
- Ski Poles
- Ski crampons (for the melt freeze cycle that happens if we are into a corn snow cycle)
- Splitboard with climbing skins and split crampons (for the melt freeze cycle that happens if we are into a corn snow cycle)
- Extra binding screws and straps are a good idea
- Collapsible trekking poles ( 3 parts)Black Diamond highly recommended.
- Avalanche Transceiver, shovel and probe (Rentals available)
- Boots (good idea to carry on plane if you can. Renting boots is not fun!)
- 28-35 Liter backpack minimum with suitable external harness straps for carrying your skis or snowboard. Please test before the trip as this is essential!
- Water bottle to fit in your backpack (we prefer water bottles to hydration systems)
- Portable tool kit for loose binding parts
- Headlamp (extra batteries)
- Padded ski or board bag. (Da Kine makes good ones that leave enough room for the rest of your gear
- Polypropylene long underwear and wool blend socks
- Fleece jacket or vest
- Warm stocking hat (Beanie or Toque)
- Neck gaiter/ face mask
- Wind/waterproof shell with hood (Goretex is recommended)
- Snow pants (Goretex is recommended)
- Ski gloves or mitts (Da Kine)
- Thin windblocker type glove for hiking and touring
- Sunglasses and ski goggles (Smith is our favorite)
- Sun block (AT LEAST 35 SPF) and lip balm
Personal first aid kit to include at least the following:
- ibuprofin or similar for headaches, aches, etc
- Moleskin and band-aids
- Light weight toilet articles
- Prescription medicine
- Personal items for women
- Large plastic garbage bag for wet clothes
- Ear plugs for light sleepers
AND OF COURSE…
- Airline tickets
- Credit card, ATM card, and credit card cancellation phone number
- Starting cash in U.S. dollars
- Small travel clock alarm for those early powder days!
- Bathing suit for hot springs, spas and pools
- Rain jacket, or use your snow jacket/shell
- Portable music and headphones
- Converter and Plug adapters
- Energy Bars
Passports, Visas, Entry Fees
PowderQuest recommends bringing a rubber band or clip to keep all your documents secure in your passport. It is also a good idea to bring a photocopy of your passport to keep separate form the original. Also, keep an extra copy backed up that you can access if needed.
Entering and Leaving Chile
A passport, valid for at least 6 months is required for most countries. A few (not the USA, Canada, UK, or Australia) are also required to have a visa issued by the Chilean Consulate. It is important to check the on the latest visa requirements.
Tourist Cards, good for 90 days, are issued upon arrival and must be surrendered when leaving Chile. Do not throw this away! Keep it in your passport at all times.
Reciprocity Fees: The reciprocity tax to enter Chile no longer applies to USA or Canadian passport holders!
There is a one-time reciprocity tax for Australia ($117 usd) passport holders, upon arrival to Santiago airport. The fee is payable in U.S. Dollars or credit card and is good for the life of your passport. This fee is paid in a separate line, before the customs line, generally to the left as you come down the stairs once leaving your plane.
Passports, Visas, Entry Fees
PowderQuest recommends bringing a rubber band to keep all your documents secure in your passport. It is also a good idea to bring a photocopy and have a backup of your passport to keep separate form the original.
A passport, valid for the length of your stay is required for most countries.
As of March 24, 2016 USA passport holders no longer have to pay a reciprocity fee to enter Argentina. read more.
As of July 1, 2017 the reciprocity fee for Australia passport holders has been waived.
Upon arrival in Argentina, this receipt must be presented to immigration officers where it will be scanned to verify the data and authorize entry to Argentina.
If you traveling with a passport from another country, it is a good idea to check online with the Argentine Embassy for updated requirements.
Required Travel Insurance
Personal travel insurance that includes emergency evacuation coverage is mandatory to travel with PowderQuest. Click for details and to book online
What to Expect When Traveling in South America and with PowderQuest
For most of us who are from North America or Europe, we are used to and expect that things run smoothly. We are not only on time but usually at least 5 minutes early. With the exception of trains, buses and most flights, Chilean and Argentine services are not known for their punctuality.
We provide the following information in good faith so you will have a clear picture of what to expect before you arrive.
Meals and Restaurants
A true highlight to the trip! All meals, with the exception of some lunches are included with your tour. Our guides selection of wine and mineral water is included with dinners on most tours. This will generally consist of 2 glasses of wine and a bottle of water. Should you want to drink more, including beer and mixed drinks, this will be an additional cost.
In addition to the delicious food included with our stay at many of the resorts, PowderQuest guides have selected great restaurants serving everything from local favorites to international. Many guests say they have eaten the best meals of their lives with us!
The norm in South America is lunch around 2pm, a smaller tea and cakes snack around 6pm and then a late dinner. We will usually be having our dinners between 8pm-9pm as most restaurants don’t open before 8.
Extra costs will include lunches not included with your trip, additional drinks and activities outside our described tour itinerary. You are responsible for any airline/airport taxes and charges due to excess, oversize or overweight baggage, including on flights that are included with the cost of the tour.
On the days we cannot get on the mountain (Rain, wind, poor visibility, etc.), PowderQuest will arrange trips such as whitewater rafting, hot springs, snowshoe trips etc, at no extra cost to our guest.
Chile and Argentina are two of the most modern countries in Latin America. With quality foods, no yellow fever or malaria, and an abundance of well-stocked pharmacies (including personal items for women), the only discomforts travelers occasionally have, are upset stomachs and a temporary bowel disorder. This is common with travels anywhere in the world, and can be avoided by drinking bottled water, avoiding side salads, and uncooked foods.
With active tours including full days in the snow and sun, it is important to stay hydrated. Backpacks are great ways to carry your essentials. Da Kine makes great packs. Keeping updated on vaccinations, especially tetanus, is always a good idea. There are no health requirements for entering Chile or Argentina.
Sunburn is always a concern in the mountains especially with the snow reflection and higher elevation. Sunglasses, goggles like Smith Optics, and quality sun block with SPF factor 35 and higher are a must in the Andes.
Frostbite can also be a factor in the Andes. Staying warmly dressed, well hydrated, and regulating body temperature by using layers and ventilation in the outer layers are good ways to prevent the skin from freezing.
Ski Resort Infrastructure
Overall expect later starts than you are used to at home. The 7:00 tram line up simply does not exist in the Andes. Most ski resorts open by 9:00 am but full mountain operations can be delayed until mid-morning for no apparent reason. When there is fresh snow or a current storm, these delays can be even longer. However, due to longer natural light, you can also ski later into the afternoon in South America. Some resorts do not stop running lifts until as late at 5:30 pm.
The ski resorts in the Andes vary from modern with millions of dollars in infrastructure to rustic areas with little more than a small cafeteria and a few tow-lifts. In many ways, we find this positive. This is not written to discourage you from visiting this beautiful part of the world, however, if you are accustomed to North American ski resort amenities, you will find the infrastructure of some resorts we visit more rustic, especially the speed and layout of the ski lifts. South America simply runs on a different pace.
The good news is, we find it all evens out. Some lifts may be slower, however 45 minute lift lines are virtually non-existent in the Andes. In addition, you do not have thousands of skiers fighting for those untracked powder runs. If you come down with an open mind you will find this part of the world fascinating and quite often comfortably relaxing!
Snowboarders should expect to encounter long traverses to access some of the better terrain at several ski resorts.
Weather forecasts are available and our guides are competent in understanding weather maps and local forecasts. However weather is not an exact science and the info available is not like in North America and Europe. Sometimes just like anywhere, forecasts are completely inaccurate.
Winters in Chile and Argentina can throw anything at us from warm and sunny “spring-like” days to bitter cold, blizzard like conditions. Fog can be common at lower elevations, while bluebird skies welcome us once reaching the snow.
Rain is common at low elevations including many of the towns we will be visiting. The resorts generally receive deep snow from Pacific storms and can be accompanied with winds. Preparation for all types of weather and ski conditions is recommended.
There may be days that there is so much wind or snow that lifts close down or simply never open. When the visibility is poor due to a storm or low clouds it is very difficult to see and for safety reasons we may choose not to go out.
Although we do not refund money for unused lift tickets, we do cover the expenses of alternate activities. We have many fun optional activities tucked up our sleeves for when these glitches in scheduling occur. Not a good day for riding in the mountains? How about a day of surfing in the Pacific Ocean, or a relaxing massage, or perhaps exploring Patagonia on horseback?
Sometimes road conditions are poor due to rain, snow, mud etc. Heavy snow and high winds can quickly stack up snow on the roads we travel. Maintenance can be slow so there may be times when you find yourself delayed on leaving our hotel in the morning, stopping to put on chains, or outside pushing the transfer through a tricky spot on the route. Some ski areas we visit have dirt roads. Dusty when it is dry and snowy and muddy after a storm. 4×4 is often needed on the roads to our cat skiing destinations.
Ski Patrol in South America is not always up to international standards. This goes not only for hasty assistance on an injury, but also snow safety. One of the reasons PowderQuest works with certified guides recognized by international guide associations. See our Safety Document for more details.
Groomed runs are not what you find in Aspen or Vail, and mountain hazards and boundaries are not marked as vigorously as you find at home.
Off Mountain Safety
As our guest, your safety is a priority to PowderQuest both on and off the mountain. Security in Chile and Argentina, even in the larger cities is quite safe. Common sense should be used, especially in busy city areas where pick pocketing can occur.
Cell phone coverage and general internet access are surprisingly good. Before your trip you will receive a list of phone numbers of our accommodations and guides where you may be reached in case of emergency. We have done our best to secure accommodations on most tours in areas where there is internet access available but few locations it is either unavailable or slow at best. Take this in stride and revel in the luxury of being disconnected for awhile!
Spanish is the official language of Chile and Argentina. Dialect between the two cultures is quite different. Chilean Spanish tends to be more difficult to understand as they cut their ‘s’, and slang is used in all age groups. Chileans have adopted many words from the English language, and are used in everyday conversation.
Argentine Spanish has greater influence from Spain, even a bit of Italian, and you can pick it out in the accent.
We hope you will want to get to know the locals of both countries. A few Spanish lessons and a phrase book will get you further than you think. Both cultures are patient and are very excited that you want to practice their language. Don’t be surprised if they want to practice their English with you.
Currency and Exchange Rates
The official currency of Chile and Argentina is the peso (Chilean peso and Argentine peso). Both currency value on the dollar fluctuates. For daily updates, click here.
Use of a credit card and ATM’s are your best bet for good exchange rates during your stay. In Argentina some U.S. dollar cash can go a long way if you are willing to exchange on the black market, easily found in most towns. In addition many shops will accept dollars at a higher rate than the official exchange rate.
Although travelers checks are accepted in some areas, the exchange rate is poor, and can often send you running around town looking for places to accept them.
Time throughout the winter months in Chile is the same as EST (New York City). Argentina is one hour ahead.
Measures and Voltage
The metric system is used in Chile and Argentina. For power, 220 volts AC, 50 cycles. Be sure to buy a plug adapter & converter if you plan on bringing electronic equipment. Quality batteries are easy to find, but less expensive if you bring them from home.
Laundry service is available in just about every town and resort we visit, and can generally be dropped off and picked up within the same day.
PowderQuest covers the gratuities at dinners. 5-10% is a normal gratuity in bars restaurants and pubs. Tipping your hotel staff, driver and ski guides is encouraged if they have provided you with excellent service. Your guides will be able to help suggest amounts to leave for your driver and hotel staff. For the guides, 5-10% of the cost of your tour is the industry norm.
We encourage you to embrace your trip to South America with all it has to offer, and if that means that things are not right on schedule, let that be part of the adventure! For more info have a look at our Frequently Asked Questions page.
Comfortable ski lodge with small but cozy rooms and private bath in the village of Farellones. There is a sauna, massage room, outdoor wood heated hot tub, outstanding breakfasts and dinners, WIFI internet, and 2 living areas to mingle with the guests. For those that like to hit the bars, the lodge is walking distance to the area’s best night life.
Family run 19th century hacienda with huge bedrooms, comfortable beds & private bath. A large living area is where we spend most of our time enjoying authentic dinners & local red wines by the fireplace with a courtyard opening up to acres of vineyards surrounded by the mighty Andes. This is our main hotel to access Arpa Snowcats and Portillo. Occasionally, the hacienda can be overbooked as it only has 5 rooms. If this happens, we stay in a modern hotel tastefully decorated in the nearby town, Los Andes.
Based in the center of Mendoza, Argentina our 4-star hotel is in the perfect location for our short stay, with easy access to the best restaurants and nightlife in the city.
Ski-in, ski-out 4-star hotel located at the base of Las Lenas where everything is within walking distance, including bars, casino, and more. The rooms are comfortable with private bath, color tv and the hotel provides WIFI access and ski storage with nice boot heaters for our guests. Being able to ski right out the door makes this our hotel of choice.
Extra time before or after your guided trip with PowderQuest? Come explore modern Santiago, sample the famous Chilean red wines, get in some additional powder days, or head to the Pacific coast offering a unique mix of iconic fishing villages, modern Vina del Mar and hip Valparaiso. How about Easter Island or the northern desert? Chile is more than great snow.
Our staff’s top picks
(photo credit Sernatur Chile) Ranked as New York Times top place to visit in 2011, Santiago should not be overlooked. We host a wide range of hotels, unique city tours, museums, world-class shopping, vineyards, top restaurants and more.
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Why not spend some extra days in the mountains lapping up more fresh snow! We’ll set up your hotel, transportation to the resort, lift tickets and more.
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Known for the giant stone Moai statues and Rapa Nui culture, the world’s most remote island, 2,300 miles off the Chilean coast has been named a UNIESCO World Heritage Site. The volcanic Polynesian island might be one of the most unique places you ever visit.
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Chile produces some of the world’s top wines, including the country’s staple Carmenere. Stroll the vineyards, sample the award winning wines, and take in the vistas of the surrounding Andes Mountains.
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Described as one of the most spectacular areas on the planet, the driest place on Earth, with no recorded rain fall, is a host to a realm of geysers, salt flats, volcanos, lagoons, lunar landscapes and the bohemian village, San Pedro de Atacama. Adventure trips and star gazing are the attraction. Budget to 5 star hotels.
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(photo credit Sernatur Chile) Valparaiso is described by the New York Times; “a destination that encompasses history, art, culture and a vibrant dining scene, all under a canopy of sunshine with a backdrop of postcard-worthy views.” Tack on Vina del Mar or surfing in Pichilemu for a multi day coast tour.
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