Typically, during average snowfall years, the ski season in Chile and Argentina runs from mid-June to mid-October. Some years, ski touring or “skinning” is possible as late as November. However, if you’re looking for the best snow coverage, the best chance of powder, few crowds, and the least expensive lodging, there’s definitely a sweet spot for traveling to Chile and Argentina to ski.

And after last summer’s ski season was canceled due to COVID-19, the ski resorts of Chile and Argentina are very much looking forward to welcoming guests back to the legendary slopes of the Andes for the 2021 Austral Summer Season, albeit with some familiar precautions.

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Hotel Portillo | Photo: Liam Doran

What will skiing look like in South America this summer?

Since COVID-19 put the kabosh on the previous South American summer ski season, locals, guests, and foreigners are all chomping at the bit to get back on some of their favorite chairlifts. But what will skiing and riding look like in South America? Will international travel be permitted? Will resorts require COVID-19 testing in order to access the slopes?

We’ll do our best to answer these questions and more…

CHILE: The first ski resort to announce that it would be planning to host skiing this summer was Ski Portillo when it announced on 3/8 that the resort is currently working with national and local health officials to create a way to access their resort via PCR COVID-19 testing. Although we expect the Valle Nevado plan to be very similar, we can’t confirm their safety protocols for the 2021 summer ski season just yet. Stay tuned to this post for further updates.

Learn more about Chile Ski Resorts

ARGENTINA: In Argentina, Cerro Catedral welcomed domestic foot-traffic back to its chairlifts in early February and so far, everything has gone smoothly. Mask mandates and social distancing protocols are in order but we have no information on what travel restrictions to and from Argentina will look like come June at this moment. As of now, all we can do is stay tuned for further updates.

Learn more about Argentina Ski Resorts

When should I book my ski trip to Chile or Argentina?

To skip the crowds and most expensive lodging rates avoid the last two weeks in July, as they are student holidays, and popular resorts like Portillo, Valle Nevado, and Cerro Catedral tend to get a little overrun. Plus, nightly rates, as well as food and drinks, will be more expensive during that time period since availability is limited. Instead, we recommend visiting South America during two particular periods of the summer ski season.

Early July: If the early season snowfalls have been ample, some of the best days to score legitimate powder is during their mid-winter period, which typically occupies the first couple weeks of July.

August: If the snow has yet to really pile up by the second week of July, we recommend waiting through the busy period of late-July for an early-August escape to the slopes. In August, the base depth is typically the deepest of the season and daily conditions alternate between winter and spring, providing guests with a nice variety of conditions on most trips.You may even score powder in the morning and corn snow in the afternoon!

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A bird’s eye view of Inca Lake in Portillo. | Photo: Liam Doran

When is the snow the best in Chile and Argentina?

Early season, mid-June to early July can be a bit hit or miss in terms of snow coverage. That said, on big years, these months can be incredible for extremely light powder. By early August, after the big storms have rolled through, the terrain tends to be completely open and the snowpack is at its deepest. The months of August and into early September are when the Andes typically receive secondary snowstorms that constantly refresh the slopes.

In fact, there’s even a legendary weather system, the “Santa Rosa Storm,” which hits the Andes a week or so before the end of August—right around the Fiesta de Santa Rosa. If you’re down south, pow skis in tow, when Santa Rosa makes landfall, you’re going to be one happy camper.

So in closing, you’re going to want to ski Chile and Argentina in early July (snow permitting) and August.

Let Ski.com help you start planning your South America ski trip today! Call or chat now with one of our knowledgeable Mountain Travel Experts or request a free quote.