Rancagua, Chile

Photo: NOI HOTELS
Photo: NOI HOTELS

It may be 90 degrees outside, but for weeks you’ve been dreaming about winter. You’d trade the beach and your bathing suit for mounds of snow and thick sweaters anytime. While you may have to wait until after Thanksgiving to head to Sun Valley, Lake Tahoe, or Stowe, the Southern Hemisphere is a winter wonderland right now. And you’ve got your sights on Chile.

From Santiago, it’s a thee-hour drive—weather permitting—southeast to Rancagua in the O’Higgins Region near the Argentine border. Then the paved road ends, and four-wheel-drive vehicles are needed to climb the snow-covered dirt road that leads up the mountain. The gorgeous scenery makes the ride go even slower. Los Cipreses river flows down from the Andes, the mountain range that runs the length of South America. Rugged peaks are capped in white. Glaciers fill deep basins. And cordilleran cypresses droop with heavy snow. You’re in heaven.

Photo: NOI HOTELS
Photo: NOI HOTELS

You spend the next few days heli-skiing from nearly 1,400 feet on virgin snow. The air is crisp, the sun is bright, and your legs feel like jelly this high up. But you’re ready to go again as soon as you reach the bottom. If the weather doesn’t cooperate for the helicopter to fly, try snowcat skiing instead. Then strap on snowshoes to hike through the Cachapoal Valley. You pass volcanic rocks, receding glaciers, and Chilean acorn trees. Keep your eye out for culpeos (wild dogs) and Patagonian foxes.

By the time the sun starts to set each day, you’re completely exhausted and utterly happy. Return to the relaxing Puma Lodge, where pine walls, volcanic stones, and hand-woven blankets create the perfect après-ski vibe. Loosen your tense muscles in the sauna or the steam bath at Los Cipreses, the candlelit spa. Run outside and jump in the heated, outdoor pool. Taste Torontel, Albillo, and Mollar wine from Chile’s Central Valley in the wine-tasting room. Stare at the stars from the wood-burning hot tub after dinner. And then curl up in a down comforter and watch the snow fall from your room’s big picture windows. This is the best summer vacation you’ve ever taken.

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