Ever since I started living in North America, I had always wanted to visit the southern continent. What better time to explore South America when it is winter down south and summer up north. Truly shows the globe is round and it would make for an adventure to ski in the summer!
As I was researching on where to go in South America, there were talks of El Nino and how it could potentially lead to a period of heavier snow in the southern part as the weather became drier in the north. That made me even more excited to head down south for a bit of skiing as the last ski season has not been the best with a lack of snow forcing the early closure of ski resorts in the Pacific Northwest. Even Whistler Blackcomb was quite empty later in the spring skiing season! I settled on trip to Chile and initially I was planning to redeem my Aeroplan miles.
I had found availability in the following itinerary, one that would bring me to several places in South America. Not only that, it would allow me to experience flights on Avianca’s 787 Dreamliner. Another point worth noting was Aeroplan redemption would allow me a stopover in Mexico City.
Later on, I chanced upon some good fares to South America via Delta, and a change of plans would require me to be in Toronto at the end of the trip. I had previously been impressed with the quality of Delta’s onboard offerings and lounge in Los Angeles so I had no qualms paying for the premium fares which came down to about $1,700 with taxes. That was a good price in my opinion for a more direct flight to Santiago. The long haul flight from Atlanta to Santiago was about 10 hours, which allows time to have a meal and a good sleep while the Aeroplan redemption would mean shorter flights of about 5 and 6 hours.
A bonus is that the return flight to Toronto via Atlanta would allow me a longer layover for me to explore Atlanta and a flight to Toronto would be on the Boeing 717.
As I mentioned, I had planned on skiing in Chile and wanted to stay in the ski resorts of Valle Nevado and Portillo, but my changes in itinerary meant the lower priced hotels in these ski resorts were fully booked so I settled on staying in Santiago and taking the daily resort shuttle via this tour company called Ski Total. Staying in Santiago was not a bad idea as it allowed me to break the days I skied with some other tourist activities like renting a car to visit Valparaiso and the vineyards of Chile.
In addition, I booked a cheaper stay at the Hotel Alto Nevados in Nevados de Chillan, meaning I would fly LAN Chile on a domestic flight to Concepcion and make my way to Chillan from there. The reason I picked Nevados de Chillan was the more consistent snowfall in this resort and because of its volcanic location, there was a natural thermal pool source which was complimentary for guests of the resort.
While researching on places to visit in Chile, I chanced upon images of Patagonia and decided I wanted to visit this area in the southern tip of South America situated close to the Antarctic. That would mean another domestic flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas, and that turns out to be another highlight of this trip. In the end while I had planned on just skiing, visiting Chile and the South American continent for the first time, I did a lot more than just ski and I hope to complete this trip journal with reviews of these places I found to be highlight of my trip!