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World-class skiing is synonymous with Portillo, so it is no surprise the U.S., Italian and Austrian Olympic teams flock to this beautiful and exclusive spot next to the alpine lake Laguna del Inca near the Argentine border for summer training. Former U.S. women's national team member and Olympic gold medalist Picabo Street once claimed Hotel Portillo - at an altitude of 2,850 meters - as the most inspirational resort on the roof of the world. There is also heli-skiing for adventurous souls in search of unspoiled powder ($295 per person first run, $165 following runs), while ski and snowboard novices can also find sufficient trails. Altitudes range from 2590m - 3310m, with the longest run of 3,200m. The slopes are well groomed, though the expert terrain is left with its natural ice pack.


Hotel Portillo offers a variety of room options for its guests that range from the luxurious ($1,200 - $5,300 per person, per week) to dorm-style, and prices - which depend on low or high season - include seven nights of lodging, four meals per day, lift tickets and access to fitness and entertainment facilities. For those less interested in style, stay in Hotel Portillo's Octagon Lodge ($890 - $1,390 per person, per week) that offers four bunks and a private bathroom in each room or the Inca Lodge ($590 - $900), which is popular among backpackers less than 30 years old. Rooms are small and the bathroom is communal but it is the cheapest way to stay in Portillo. ( Tel: 56-263-0606, URL:, E-mail:


It is also possible to find cheaper accommodation approximately 70 km to the west in the city of Los Andes. The scenic, two-hour drive from Santiago to Portillo can be arranged through Portillo Tours and Travel (Tel: 56-226-30606 or toll free from U.S. 1-800-829-5325 , E-mail:




Other places nearby Portillo: San Felipe and Los Andes.

By Chris Hughes
Traveling South America to give Viva readers the most up-to-date information...
29 Jun 2009

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