Resort Scorecard

Snowsure


Beginners


Intermediate


Advanced


Snowboarders


Après Ski


Families


Base elevation: 1,250 metres

Top elevation: 2,120 metres

Number of lifts: 12

Number of runs: 31

Access: Fly to Bariloche and then it's a three-hour drive up to San Martin de los Andes.

Cerro Chapelco is the modern ski resort. The beautiful, laidback village of San Martin de Los Andes is your base. High Andean volcanoes which create a border between Argentina & Chile and the stunning turquoise waters of Lake Lacar are the backdrop. Paradise found.

Known for its tree skiing - big stumps and smaller aspens in nice old-growth forests - Cerro Chapelco also features plenty of high open alpine terrain higher up. For experts it’s easy to access the steep backcountry bowls, yet the resort is totally beginner-friendly also, with magic carpets and gentle slopes for those just starting out. You’ll find the best terrain park in Argentina here, where facilities are modern and amenities plentiful. We are fully aware that we’ve started gushing, but this is the effect Cerro Chapelco has on us at Different Snow…

Most of our guests choose to stay down in San Martin de Los Andes, best described as a chocolate-box Swiss ski village transplanted in to the Argentinean Andes, complete with rows of quaint shops and plenty of characterful restaurants. Each day, a wide, snowy road leads you up to the ski area at Cerro Chapelco - it’s only 12 miles.

Cerro Chapelco is actually currently undergoing a renovation plan that includes new lifts and generous investment on the mountain. The benefit can already be realised, as we’re now two thirds of the way through the process and the on-mountain experience today is a really positive one….set to only continuously improve.

Skiing in San Martin de los Andes (Cerro Chapelco)

The headline act here is the tree skiing, probably the best in all South America. Patagonia has avoided the gratuitous deforestation endemic elsewhere in South America and, with the right snow conditions, it’s a ridiculous amount of fun to dip your skis in to the old forest which covers the lower sections of the mountain. You’ll find the Lenga trees covered by Devil’s Beard moss, which drapes eerily from the branches, which is great news as its a sure sign that there is not a hint of air pollution. The contrasting colours of the hairy trees against the powder-white snow is iconic to the slopes.

However, take the lifts further up and there isn’t a tree in sight. This is classic Alpine terrain, with off-piste meanderings taking you to large bowls, gullies and rocky outcrops, with plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. Precipitous and worrisome terrain can be easily found, but only if you go looking for it.

The bulk of the Chapelco ski mid-size mountain is ideal beginners and intermediates. What it lacks in size it more than makes up for with vertical drop; there’s more than enough to get thighs pumping in the open bowls up high and then on the tree lined groomers which lead down to the base area. A modern lift infrastructure includes a gondola and a super-fast detachable quad chair lift.

Chapelco also has one eye on the slack-trousered freestylers with an excellent terrain park which is open, weather permitting, from 10am to 4 pm daily.

The entry-level groomed pistes have both the essential attributes sought by a beginner - they are as wide as they are gentle. There is a well-regarded ski school operating, with experienced English-speaking ski and snowboard instructors.

Probably the best ski resort in Argentina for intermediates. There is simply so much to go at on the groomers and the off-piste snow is always alluring, yet safe to explore. If you find yourself in amongst the trees, then you’ll find them thoughtfully spaced apart and the gradient not too steep. Give it a go.  

Chapelco also has one of the best ski schools in the Andes, so this is your chance to advance off that intermediate plateau….

The tree skiing is phenomenal - point your skis off the side of the piste and play until your heart is content, though you do need the very best snow to achieve max pleasure.

If you want to find the really steep terrain the best zones are out-of-bounds and therefore require avalanche safety equipment and notifying the ski patrol of your intent. Don’t head backcountry without either.

From the very top of the mountain you’ll find access to some excellent backcountry bowls and chutes, mainly down the backside. It’s also possible to find great lines back into the resort base - you can look back and check your tracks from top to bottom.

If you are heading out back, and as long as we’ve hired someone who knows the terrain (this is avalanche territory) and the safe ways out, you’ll be rewarded with some great south-facing snow….but keep in mind you will have to walk out. On a good day you can do countless laps back here, with each hike out lasting about 20-30 minutes.

On stormy days its best to ski in the trees on the far right of the resort, accessed from the quad chair. It’s a short run but tremendous fun.

Snowboarders tend to have more fun higher up the mountain, in the open Alpine territory.

Freestylers enjoy Chapelco Snow Park, where you’ll find, boxes, rails, and kickers all set to for different riding levels. Banging tunes play throughout the day - a good or bad thing, depending on your perspective (and age).

Chapelco is all rather family-oriented, with a modern infrastructure and ski terrain that suits all comers. In addition to a more-than-decent ski and snowboard school, the resort has lots of restaurants and child care is available.

San Martin de Los Andes has the best pumping bars cosy pubs, and Latin dance clubs to be found anywhere in Patagonia. It’s a lively little town and we’d suggest that sampling the local micro-beers is a must.

There is every type of cuisine imaginable, from succulent lake trout to tender Argentine beef. If you rarely spoil yourself with a quality steak, then go mental in San Martin de los Andes where big juicy steaks are inexpensive - carnicerias (steak houses) are on every corner. Indeed, what’s the limit for steak dinners? Three of four nights of the week?  San Martin de los Andes also has lots of parillas (barbeques), many of which rather gratuitously display Patagonian wild boar, lambs or goats on the spit in the front window. Vegetarians need not feel too marginalised, as most restaurants have pasta or dishes using the wonderful mountain mushrooms as the key ingredient. For desert the Swiss influence plays out strongly and bakeries featuring chocolate, waffles and pastries abound. Like elsewhere in Patagonia, the meals are delightfully cheap.

The best ski town in Argentina? Yes.

The entry-level groomed pistes have both the essential attributes sought by a beginner - they are as wide as they are gentle. There is a well-regarded ski school operating, with experienced English-speaking ski and snowboard instructors.

Probably the best ski resort in Argentina for intermediates. There is simply so much to go at on the groomers and the off-piste snow is always alluring, yet safe to explore. If you find yourself in amongst the trees, then you’ll find them thoughtfully spaced apart and the gradient not too steep. Give it a go.  

Chapelco also has one of the best ski schools in the Andes, so this is your chance to advance off that intermediate plateau….

The tree skiing is phenomenal - point your skis off the side of the piste and play until your heart is content, though you do need the very best snow to achieve max pleasure.

If you want to find the really steep terrain the best zones are out-of-bounds and therefore require avalanche safety equipment and notifying the ski patrol of your intent. Don’t head backcountry without either.

From the very top of the mountain you’ll find access to some excellent backcountry bowls and chutes, mainly down the backside. It’s also possible to find great lines back into the resort base - you can look back and check your tracks from top to bottom.

If you are heading out back, and as long as we’ve hired someone who knows the terrain (this is avalanche territory) and the safe ways out, you’ll be rewarded with some great south-facing snow….but keep in mind you will have to walk out. On a good day you can do countless laps back here, with each hike out lasting about 20-30 minutes.

On stormy days its best to ski in the trees on the far right of the resort, accessed from the quad chair. It’s a short run but tremendous fun.

Snowboarders tend to have more fun higher up the mountain, in the open Alpine territory.

Freestylers enjoy Chapelco Snow Park, where you’ll find, boxes, rails, and kickers all set to for different riding levels. Banging tunes play throughout the day - a good or bad thing, depending on your perspective (and age).

Chapelco is all rather family-oriented, with a modern infrastructure and ski terrain that suits all comers. In addition to a more-than-decent ski and snowboard school, the resort has lots of restaurants and child care is available.

San Martin de Los Andes has the best pumping bars cosy pubs, and Latin dance clubs to be found anywhere in Patagonia. It’s a lively little town and we’d suggest that sampling the local micro-beers is a must.

There is every type of cuisine imaginable, from succulent lake trout to tender Argentine beef. If you rarely spoil yourself with a quality steak, then go mental in San Martin de los Andes where big juicy steaks are inexpensive - carnicerias (steak houses) are on every corner. Indeed, what’s the limit for steak dinners? Three of four nights of the week?  San Martin de los Andes also has lots of parillas (barbeques), many of which rather gratuitously display Patagonian wild boar, lambs or goats on the spit in the front window. Vegetarians need not feel too marginalised, as most restaurants have pasta or dishes using the wonderful mountain mushrooms as the key ingredient. For desert the Swiss influence plays out strongly and bakeries featuring chocolate, waffles and pastries abound. Like elsewhere in Patagonia, the meals are delightfully cheap.

The best ski town in Argentina? Yes.

Getting There

There is an airport at San Martin de los Andes that has weekly direct flights from Buenos Aires. However, these are frequently cancelled due to the weather and, consequently, should not be considered reliable. In the deep winter this problem becomes particularly acute – bad news for us. Therefore, Bariloche to the south is a far more dependable airport which we would vastly prefer to use. From Bariloche it’s a three-hour drive up to San Martin de los Andes / Chapelco.

The flights (both to Bariloche and directly to San Martin de los Andes) depart from Newberry Airport in Buenos Aires, which is a different airport to the one you’ll be flying in to internationally. Therefore, overnights are usually required in the capital.

Car hire outlets are numerous in Bariloche and using this option also affords you plenty of flexibility when up in San Martin de los Andes. Alternatively we can organise privately chauffeured transfers or even provide instructions on how to negotiate this transfer by coach.

The ski resort up in Chapelco is only 20-minutes away from the lakeside town of San Martin de los Andes. Use your hire car to knock off these 12-miles or, alternatively, there are numerous daily shuttle options that we can use.

From your hotel in San Martin de los Andes hotels you’ll find the town small enough to navigate on foot, with all the restaurants, bars and shops within easy strolling distance.

Resort Scorecard

Snowsure


Beginners


Intermediate


Advanced


Snowboarders


Après Ski


Families


Base elevation: 1,250 metres

Top elevation: 2,120 metres

Number of lifts: 12

Number of runs: 31

Access: Fly to Bariloche and then it's a three-hour drive up to San Martin de los Andes.