Family day trip to the Andes Mountains

I used to struggle to think of ideas of what to do with my kids in the UK. Here in Chile it’s so easy.

The beach, the mountains, the desert… they’re all just a couple of hours from our Santiago apartment.

On Saturday morning my kid asked to play in the snow. So we headed to Valle Nevado, just an hour and a half from Santiago.

One minute the landscape was all arid land and cacti, the next pristine snow. The windy roads provided some breathtaking views, even if they weren’t the best for mums to be with morning sickness (me).

Technically speaking Valle Nevado is a ski resort, but we headed there just for a play. In fact, it was the first time our two year old has seen proper snow.

The very utmost point of the resort offers parking for hotel guests, apartment rentals and Jeep owners only. Yes, you heard right, if you’ve got a Jeep you can park for free at the designated area at the top, among the zillion Jeep advertisements.

If you don’t fall into any of the above categories, you’ll have to walk a few extra minutes to reach the top. At 3,000 metres in altitude I was feeling the burn so Papa had to carry Rafa.

And boy it was worth it. Check out those views!

There isn’t much to see or do here other than ski, but for our preschoolers it was perfect. Little Rafa was mesmerised by the snow…

But he also fancied a go at snowboarding himself.

Meanwhile as the boys rolled around in the white stuff, I took some time to soak up the rays.

And took a few more pics on the way home.

Even better than the views, our kids were so tired they slept all through the following night. It was just a struggle getting them home.

Need to know: 

  • Valle Nevado is primarily a ski resort, with most areas fenced off for skiers. Snowball fighting / snowmen making zones are rather limited. If you’re not skiing and you’ve got older kids, they may get rather bored. We’ve been recommended to try a day trip to the mountains in Cajon del Maipo – watch this space for my blog post.
  • While not the biggest of resorts, The New York Times listed Valle Nevado as a number one summer ski resort. If you’re going there to ski, check the map to figure out if it’ll suit your level of ability.
  • Chatting to cafe owners at the resort, Valle Nevado can get very, very busy in July and August. By September the influx of Brazilians tourists starts to die down and it gets quieter again. Parking wasn’t an issue for us, but I’m not sure I’d say the same in high season.
  • Tickets for ski passes can be purchased on site near the Hotel Valle Nevado cafe, or through the resort’s website. Ski school classes for kids are available to book on site too.
  • Children’s ski classes are available for those between 4 and 11 years old. All children must come equipped with a helmet, boots, skis and appropriate clothing (gloves, hats and goggles).
  • Check the weather report on the resort’s website before you leave. Some pistes, cable car routes or roads may be closed. When we went, the weather was rather sunny and we didn’t need car tire chains, however at times of greater snowfall police will stop you passing unless your car has chains fitted. The roads are regulated meaning that for some routes you can only go up at the start of the day and down at the end of the day. Keep an eye on the time and plan your return journey.
  • Entrance to the resort was free of charge for us, but like most ski resorts you pay a premium for a limited choice of refreshments.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there haven’t been any documented reports of pregnancy complications caused by brief high-altitude exposure, however they recommend steering clear of destinations over 12,000 feet. Valle Nevado is 3,000m (10,000ft) in altitude. I’m six months pregnant and felt it in my belly, not just my ears. You might like to rethink the trip if you’ve had any complications or are in the least concerned.
  • We found it wasn’t necessary to stay overnight, but there are three hotels within the resort, with the Hotel Valle Nevado the most centrally located (it’s spitting distance from the slopes). Self catering apartments are just as central and sleep from two to eight guests.

For more information visit or Tel. (56-2) 2477 77 01


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