Charles Darwin describes Patagonia, as a place that enhances the horizons of imagination. From the Andes Mountains in the West to the southern Atlantic coastline east and south Argentina is one of the most diverse countries in the world including nine main ski areas from north to south – Penitentes, Las Lenas, Caviahue, Batea Mahvida, Chapelco, Cerro Bayo, Cero Catedral (Bariloche), La Hoya and Cerro Castor.
The most developed resort and one of the biggest ski areas in the southern hemisphere is Cerro Catedral near Bariloche. As well as being one of South America’s most popular ski resorts, Cerro Catedral, or Bariloche as it is often referred to, boasts beautiful lakes and mountains and offers good piste terrain for skiers and boarders of all levels.
Heading north from Bariloche there are smaller resorts, which are well worth a visit as the scenery here is second to none. Cerro Bayo, Chapelco, Batea Mahuida and Caviahue come into their element in mid season (August) when rich natural snow makes these resorts a pleasure to ski.
But for keen off-piste skiers, the northern resort of Las Lenas is one of the southern hemisphere’s best-kept secrets. When the infamous Marte lift at the top of the mountain opens, 80% of the off-piste skiing becomes available and at almost 4,000 metres the powder is deep, dry and relentless.
South of Bariloche are the ski bowls of La Hoya, near the city of Esquel, which feature some of the best off piste powder due to their mainly south facing slopes; we’re in the southern hemisphere remember.
Argentina is the second largest country in South America after Brazil and the eighth biggest country in the world. Las Lenas to Bariloche is about 500 km and from Bariloche all the way south to Cerro Castor is about 1,500 km so allow plenty of time for travelling between ski resorts if planning to visit a number of different ski areas.