Destination guide: Termas de Chillan, Chile
The Chillan Hot Springs thermal and ski center is surrounded by the impressive nature of Chile’s Andean foothills, approximately 1,600 meters above sea level. Throughout the year, it receives hundreds of visitors, who come to take advantage of the therapeutic properties of the water and to do winter sports.
Termas de Chillan
A winding road leads from Chillán 80km up into the mountains to Valle Las Trancas and the Termas de Chillán. Chilean powder-fiends flock to these slopes in winter, when bumper-to-bumper traffic is common at the top. The pace is less manic the rest of the year, when the valleys turn a luscious green and are perfect for hiking, climbing and horseback riding, or just lazing aroundand drinking in the views.
The southern slopes of the 3122m Volcán Chillán are the stunning setting of the Nevados de Chillán ski center ([tel] 600-626-3300; www.nevadosdechillan.com; day ski pass adult/child CH$25,000/15,000). Unusually for Chile’s ski resorts, many of its 30 runs track through forest, and there’s a good mix of options for beginner and more experienced skiers. Superlatives abound here: they’ve got the longest piste in South America (13km Las Tres Marías), the longest chairlift and some of the biggest and best off-piste offerings. A new company took over the concession in 2008 and has added a snow park, too. The season can start as early as mid-May and usually runs to mid-October – locals swear that great snow, empty slopes and discounted ski-passes make the beginning of October one of the best times to come.
A turnoff halfway between Valle Las Trancas and the ski center takes you to Valle Hermoso (admission CH$3000), a leafy recreational area. Most people come here for the thermal springs ([hrs] 9am-5pm) – sheltered inside a wooden house, they’re open year-round. Zip-lines and climbing walls provide extra action in summer, when you can stay at the small campsite (per tent CH$15,000), the cheapest accommodations on the mountain. There’s a basic minimarket and fast-food restaurant.
Purchase your ticket at LAN.com and discover all of the charm that Termas de Chillan has to offer. Buy now