Three Places to Visit to get Your Skiing and Travel Fix All in One
If you’re like me, traveling is a personal experience with the value rooted in the exposure to different people, culture, and languages. However, I am also a skier, and my interests are often at odds with each other because of the usual limitations of time and budget.
So, I often find myself looking for ways to multitask when planning trips. I’m always on the lookout for good skiing with more than just a warm fire and good beer in the local area. Here are three great places where you can get both your turns and your travel.
Chile undoubtedly has some of the best skiing in the Southern Hemisphere, and maybe the world. What’s even better, is that most of the skiing in the Andes Mountains is easily accessible from Santiago, Chile’s capital.
La Parva, El Colorado, and Valle Nevado — three of the premier lift-served ski areas in Chile — are within an hour’s drive from central Santiago. Two hours away, there is Portillo, another ski area with superb terrain and lift-access. From Portillo, you can also visit Argentina, with Mendoza only another couple hours beyond the border. Don’t forget your passport!
Santiago itself is a diverse cultural center in South America. The city features the tallest building in South America, the largest graveyard in South America (which may sound a bit morbid for a travel destination, but the architecture of the mausoleums and statues is beautiful), and multiple museums and cultural attractions, such as the house of Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda and the Gabriela Mistral poetry center.
Then, south of Santiago is Chillan. There is a small lift-served ski area near Chillan, but the real attraction is the volcanoes. If ski touring is your jam, you can hike with your skis right to the edge of the crater, then ski down for a dip in the local hot springs. Bring your camera, because it’s incredible!
La Parva: $75 per day
El Colorado: $84 per day
Valle Nevado: $80 per day
Japan’s northern island, Hokkaido, is known for some of the deepest, lightest powder on earth. However, the island is also a great place to experience one of the world’s most unique cultures in a quieter setting outside of the main travel hubs of Japan.
Hokkaido has several ski resorts, so there’s likely something for everyone. Niseko is by far the most well known lift-serviced ski area on Hokkaido. However, Rusutsu, Furano, and Asahidake are also gaining notoriety. Japan also offers ample opportunity for ski touring, if you’d like to skip the lines and earn your turns.
Culturally, life on Hokkaido is tied closely with the cultures of the indigenous people, and the remnants of feudal Japan. There are several museums, and archeological sites dedicated to the indigenous clans, and even a town built around a castle.
Being in a volcanic zone, Hokkaido also features several hot springs that can be visited all year round, even when there is snow on the ground. Kumo No Ue Onsen, Toyohira Gorge Onsen, and the Open Air Bath on Ice are three of the most revered hot springs on the island, however, there are over twenty to choose from.
Niseko: $70 per day
Rusutsu: $55 per day
Furano: $50 per day
Asahidake: $30 per day
Russia is not often the first place that comes to mind when people think of skiing in Europe. However, Russia’s geography and climate make for excellent skiing conditions.
Despite the quality snow not to far from the city center, Sochi was a fairly quiet place to start from when accessing Russia’s mountains. Business has picked up since the Winter Olympics were hosted here in 2014. These days, Sochi might not be the undiscovered gem that it once was, but that doesn’t change the fact that the snow is stellar!
Two of Russia’s premier lift-served ski areas can be reached fairly easily from Sochi. The low cost of lift tickets helps offset the travel cost to these destinations. The mountain climate is influenced by the nearby Black Sea, and produces high volumes of great powder.
For other outdoor activities, there is ample trekking in the area, and Zmeykovskie Falls, Lake Ritsa, Mount Fisht, and Devil’s Gate Canyon are among the top outdoor attractions.
Sochi also offers many attractions within the city limits. The Sochi Arboretum and Dolphinarium (it’s exactly what it sounds like) are among the most popular spots. If you feel like something quieter, there is also a World War II monument, the Sochi history and art museums, and Stalin’s Dacha — a museum of Soviet History located in the nearby mountains.
Sochi might be a bit more crowded these days, but don’t let that scare you. There are plenty of ways to get out of the crowds and into nature while you’re waiting for the next snowstorm to restock the slopes.
Krasnaya Polyana Mountain Cluster: $50 per day
Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort: $25 per day
Even though your skiing and travel hobbies have to contend with the same budget, it can be reasonable to get out and see the world with your sticks on your back, it just takes a little bit of multitasking!