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Chile to Brazil

Ski and beach adventure | View photos »

After the adrenaline of skiing in the Chilean Andes, what better way to relax than soaking up the buzz of Brazilian culture in Rio de Janeiro and warming yourself on nearby beach? Tailor made for you.

15 day trip described, guide price £4,295pp i Fully customisable to you

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Sample itinerary

Fly to South America

Travel overnight to Chile, this will normally be on a Friday for you to land on the Saturday morning in Santiago de Chile.

Arrive on the slopes of Portillo

Arrive this morning in Chile. Portillo is a two and a half hour drive to the north of Santiago. You should arrive at the resort before lunch. Since check-in is later this afternoon, we recommend that you pack your ski kit near the top of your bags in order to get out onto the slopes straight after lunch. There is no better way to get over a long journey than a few bracing descents.

Enjoy the near empty slopes of Portillo

The setting of Portillo is exquisite: a high Andean valley with the Laguna del Inca reflecting the surrounding 5,000m peaks. This despite the fact that people’s general reaction, on arrival, is that Portillo is very small. The actual slope infrastructure is 14 lifts serving 23 slopes. Of these 10% are for beginners, 70% for intermediate-advanced and 20% for experts.

Share the piste with Olympians

The nature of the terrain makes Portillo particularly well suited to skiers though there are some great fun accessible powder fields for boarders. It is not uncommon to share the slopes with one of the Olympic ski teams as they come here for their summer training. For most mere mortals, the sight of an Olympic standard skier thundering down the impressive ‘kilometro lanzado’ slope is enough to make us stop and watch for a while.

Try out the va et vient lifts

Portillo has four superb ‘va et vient’ lifts – essentially four person drag lifts which take you up the steepest of slopes at something like 30km an hour. It has been described as more like a rollercoaster than a ski lift. The purpose of these lifts is to get you high onto the valley walls from where you can access the large powder fields running down towards the lake.

Enjoy the comforts of the Gran Hotel

The Grand Hotel has been here since the 1940s and that’s the feel of the place. Rooms are generally fairly small, comfortable but not spacious. Windows are relatively small. There are no TVs in rooms. Portillo does have spectacular communal areas - the living room is the hub of the hotel and really does feel like a large family living room.

Enjoy the service and keep skiing!

It is impossible to talk about Portillo without talking about the service. There are over 500 staff looking after the 450 guests, some staff have been here for over 40 years. You will find that each day has a rather lovely settled routine to it. After a fresh and delicious breakfast, head downstairs to collect your gear and ski out for the morning. Lunch and dinner are always three courses with various choices, the standard of cooking is a highlight.

Buddy up to explore further

Enjoy another full day of skiing. If you want lessons, the instructors at Portillo come from the finest northern hemisphere resorts such as Whistler, Vail and Chamonix. Alternatively, buddy up with some of the regulars here and they can lead you off to discover some of the great backcountry areas - as long as you are suitably qualified.

From the pistes to the postos

Check out of your hotel for your shuttle transfer back to the airport from where you catch a flight over to Rio, via Santiago. Depending on flight times, this afternoon you might have time to wander along Ipanema beach. There are lifeguard stations along the beach, postos, around which different groups congregate: younger, older, gay, straight, football, volleyball, etc. Ipanema is also the nicest area of the city for shopping and restaurants. Each day there is an art and handicraft market in the central square.

Guided tour of the best of Rio

What makes Rio special is the setting – it is a city spread across bays and valleys, and wedged between forested hills and sandy beaches. Today’s tour will be almost entirely outside. Start high above the city centre with the famous Sugar Loaf Mountain before taking the train up the Corcovado Mountain for a walk in the Tijuca forest, on the slopes beneath the statue of Christ which sits on top of Corcovado mountain.

Travel from Rio to nearby Buzios

Today you leave Rio for the two hour drive to the beach town of Buzios. Once the preserve of pirates and slave traders, since Bardot came here in the 1960s this pretty fishing village has been popular with a more elite set, particularly of Cariocas (natives of Rio). Buzios nowadays has a relaxed and friendly air. Relax in your lovely pousada overlooking the bay.

Explore the beaches of the headland

Daytimes are generally spent on one of the 20 or more beaches, evenings are spent eating well, or enjoying a little of that legendary Brazilian nightlife. Each of the beaches or bays has a different feel. The west coast beaches offer calm, clear waters while the east coast ones, facing the open sea, are a little wilder and draw surfers and water sports enthusiasts.

Find the perfect spot for sundowners

Take more time around Buzios to enjoy the beaches, scenery, activities and nightlife. Olho de Boi beach is surrounded by absolutely untouched Atlantic Forest vegetation. For beautiful views at sunset, head to Brava, Forno or Tartaruga beaches. Azeda beach is probably the most beautiful. If you want to cross from Ossos to Azeda beach you can either hike a trail or take a water taxi around the headland.

Last day to enjoy the coast

More time around Buzios to enjoy the beaches, scenery, activities and nightlife. Joao Fernandinho Beach has several bars and restaurants known for great seafood. Ferradura and Geriba are most popular for surfing.

Travel home from Rio

Enjoy more time around Buzios this morning before your afternoon transfer back to the airport and your overnight flight home. Again, please note that international flights are quoted separately for this trip.

Note: This is just an itinerary idea and we'll therefore tailor everything to you.

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Map of the area

"Wonderful honeymoon"

"Wonderful honeymoon"

Great to be able to ski in August, especially on such beautiful and empty slopes. Wonderful and memorable honeymoon. Kerrie J

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About this trip


After the adrenaline of skiing in the Chilean Andes, what better way to relax than soaking up the buzz of Brazilian culture in Rio de Janeiro and warming yourself on nearby beach? Tailor made for you.

How adventurous?

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Best time to go i

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Level of activity

This is intended to be an active trip for those people who enjoy, in particular, skiing. It is an entirely treeless resort at 2,900m in the Andes north of Santiago. Although the resort of Portillo is fun for boarders, it is skiers who will get the most from the terrain here. The piste infrastructure at Portillo is very small, 35 runs covering 1235 acres - the longest run is 2km. It is really in the off piste areas that Portillo excels - fantastic chutes run down the steep valley sides towards the lake. Access to the high valley sides is by the quite splendidly odd, va-et-vient lifts. They are really slingshot lifts for up to 5 people which get you up the hill fast - something like 20 times faster than a button lift going up a 50% slope. It's exciting! Because these lifts require next to no structure at the top, they can be placed in relatively inaccessible areas to get you up high and off-piste.

If the weather is good and avalanche risk low then there is a huge terrain for you to explore at Portillo. If the weather is closed in then you will find it very small. However, as they say, it's all about quality not quantity here. There is a reason that thundering past you on the slopes will likely be Austrian, US or Canadian Olympic ski teams.

What also makes Portillo special is that there is just the one, bright yellow hotel with a maximum of 450 guests at any one time - that's essentially everyone who will be on the mountain. It's not just that you won't see any crowds at Portillo, you'll probably know half the people by name. Inside the hotel, you find yourself being looked after by over 200 staff in the most traditional surroundings imaginable. It's all very comfortable, quite charming and entirely unique. Some people say it is like a large private house party, others describe it as a large yellow cruise ship stranded on a mountain - people do genuinely come back to Portillo year in, year out because of the atmosphere, and the skiing of course.

In Brazil, your time is really more about relaxing than active adventures. Buzios has its share of watersports on offer though: windsurfing, diving, surfing, sailing and water skiing.

Weather conditions in the Chilean Andes are generally stable in mid-winter (July-September). They reckon that 80% of days have clear skies so conditions are often delightful. Being so high, when snow falls in Portillo, it tends to stay put. The snow also tends to be deep, dry powder. Obviously it is a high mountain ski resort so you will know to expect cold nights but from time to time you will be able to ski in t-shirts during the day.

The weather in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro and Buzios) is likely to be warm and pleasant with temperatures above 20°c normal. Evenings are cool. Rainfall in the months of June through September is amongst the lowest of the year so it tends to be dry though humidity in Rio remains at around 80%, as always.

Level of culture

Whilst skiing is not a particularly culturally rich activity, Portillo is a family owned resort and has been since it was built in the 1940s. This does give it a very 'Chilean' feel. The guest:staff ratio of nearly 2:1 also means that you get a great sense of Chilean hospitality and service. And food. The food in Portillo is very, very good.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil generally, is an extraordinary cultural phenomenon. A blend of Latin American, European and African which looks mighty odd on paper but somehow produces the most vibrant of all Latin cultures. From the food to the music to the art, literature, dance, football, the very atmosphere of the place buzzes. Brazil is irresistible – a place to simply lift up your feet and let yourself be carried along with the flow.


We have a detailed itinerary for this trip from Chile to Brazil, as set out above. If you would like a copy, please get in touch and we can email it over to you.

Ultimately though, this is a tailor made trip so we would love to have time to talk to you in order to send the most appropriate proposal to you. For instance, Portillo ski resort is strict about only allowing 7 night stays, Saturday to Saturday but nearby Valle Nevado has more flexible timetables if that is an issue for you.

In the form set out above, this holiday includes flight from Santiago to Rio, all transfers, excursions, activities and entrances as set out in the detailed itinerary. At Portillo, lift passes are included too though not equipment rental. Naturally, on each and every one of our holidays, we include Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout, along with the reassurance of our financial protection and safety auditing.

Flights are quoted separately for this holiday. You need to fly into Santiago (airport code: SCL) and out of Rio (airport code: GIG).


Departs from July through September, though departure dates may be fixed by ski resort.

Next steps...

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The described itinerary is just a taster of what this trip could involve. We would work with you to tailor your personal trip.

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Book Subscribe to The Pothole » Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro Winery in the Colchagua Valley Happy families on the lifts at Portillo Skiing the steep sides of the Portillo resort Empty slopes to be explored at Portillo, Chile Heading up into the hills at Portillo, Chile Room at the Gran Hotel Portillo, Chile The dramatic yellow facade of the Gran Hotel Portillo, Chile Skiing off piste at Portillo, Chile The cable car up to Sugarloaf mountain Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro The bay of Buzios, near Rio de Janeiro Praia do Ferro in Buzios, Brazil Ferradurinha beach in Buzios, Brazil Statue of fishermen in Buzios, Brazil Aerial view of Copacabana beach and sugarloaf mountain beyond