In the surroundings of Temuco, ski resorts are gearing up for an exciting season
A little over an hour by plane from Santiago, and... snow, lots of snow. Super-tall mountains and volcanoes help complete the scenario that starts looking like a real-life postcard from mid-June on. At Chile’s ski resorts in the vicinity of Temuco, the coldest time of year is celebrated like none other: tourists come in droves to enjoy the slopes and the cold weather.
Araucarias Ski & Lodging, located just 51 miles [82 km] from Temuco Airport, stands at the foot of the Llaima Volcano and makes for the perfect day trip from the city. With a simpler infrastructure of accommodations – there are individual rooms, but also lodging for as many as 20 people –, it will surely not disappoint anyone who comes to hit the slopes. It has 350 skiable hectares and scenery that includes woods filled with ancient araucaria trees and beautiful lagoons.
For other icy experiences, there’s no need to go far. Two hours from the airport, but on opposite sides, are two other famous ski resorts: Pucón and Corralco, each one boasting views of a volcano. At the former, named after the city where it’s located, the main attraction is getting to ski the slopes of Villarrica, the most active volcano in Chile. The compact resort has 20 slopes and six lifts, but save some energy for one other activity: the 9,200-foot [2,800 m] climb up to the top of the mountain. Those who successfully take on the adventure get to peek inside the crater. There are no hotels at this ski resort, but the city boasts a few options, such as Hotel Antumalal, which has 22 apartments overlooking Villarrica Lake.
At Corralco, the volcano is Lonquimay. In the heart of Malalcahuello National Reserve, in the Araucanía region, it has downhill slopes clear of obstacles and 30% of them are designated for beginners, including a nearly one-mile [1.4 km] stretch that is basically flat. But you don’t have to ski to enjoy the icy resort. At the top of the 9,400-foot [2,860 m] volcano, for example, people go hiking and trekking. The hikes also take place in woods with ancient araucaria trees, which stand nearly 82 feet [25 m] tall. Excursions will take you to the hollow interior of one of these giant trees, big enough for an adult to stand up.
Nature at Corralco has another important character. Much younger, but no less expressive, the Cráter Navidad, located 2.5 miles [4 km] from the volcano, is an immense crater that resulted from the last eruption in the region, in the 1980s.
The resort’s charming accommodations area has 54 rooms, a spa, a pool, and an outdoor jacuzzi, surrounded by ice and under the stars. The restaurant Valle Corralco is another attraction and, now and then, the main courses include game, such as roasted rabbit with mushroom and parmesan purée. In the late afternoon, the lobby becomes a hangout, where delicious hot chocolate is served. After dinner, this time at the bar, tourists gather once again for drinks, video games, and karaoke.
Whatever the itinerary, at the resort people go to sleep early. And you’ll get why just by looking out the window: Lonquimay is an invitation to daytime activities.
A specialist’s recommendation
In Brazil, it (almost) never snows, but that didn’t stop São Paulo native André Cintra from becoming a snowboarder, even participating in two Paralympic Winter Games (in the photo, taken in 2014, he’s in Sochi, Russia). He always keeps an eye out for snowy mountains, and has been to resorts in Chile, like Valle Nevado and Chillán. But one of his favorites is Corralco, which he’s visited three times. “The resort is beautiful, one of the places with the most snow per square foot in South America,” he says. For experts, he suggests an adventure: “You can hike up to the top of the volcano and freestyle your way down. The path is filled with areas where no one will have skied that day.”