Getting to Nevados de Chillan

Getting to Nevados de Chillan

Chile Guided Progression Tour

Where is Nevados de Chillan?

Nevados de Chillan (aka Termas de Chillan) is located in the Andes in the Bio Bio region of Chile, 78km east of the city of Chillán. Chillan is 499km south of Santiago.

The Nevados de Chillan ski resort is near the town of Las Trancas which is about 7km down the hill.

Getting to Nevados de Chillan

From Santiago, it’s easy to get to Nevados de Chillan if you’re on a multi-day tour or if you drive yourself (see below).

Otherwise you can get a plane to Concepcion, or a bus or train to Chillan, and then a transfer to Nevados de Chillan.

Flying to Concepcion
From Santiago, you can take a Latam domestic flight to Concepcion Airport (CCP) with a 1 hour flight time. You can search for flights here. From there your Nevados de Chillan hotel can organise a transfer to the resort (2:30 hours duration). There is one scheduled transfer per day or you can pay the premium for a private transfer.

Or you can rent a car at Concepcion Airport and drive to the resort. This is a particularly good option if you’ll be staying in Las Trancas accommodation (ie off the hill).

Train or Bus to Chillan
Terra Sur provides very economical and comfortable train services from Santiago to Chillan with three schedules per day. The train takes about 5.5 hours.  

Tur Bus has daily buses from Santiago to the city of Chillan.

Your hotel can organise a shuttle transfer (scheduled or private) between Chillan and Nevados de Chillan, or of course you can try your luck with a taxi.

Or from Chillan there are public buses or Rem Bus from the Terminal de Buses Rurales to Nevados de Chillan, although you’ll probably need good Spanish language skills to negotiate this.

Driving to Nevados de Chillan
Driving to Nevados de Chillan is reasonably easy, especially relative to the gnarly road up to the Tres Valles ski resorts near Santiago. You’ll get away with a 2WD vehicle, although a 4WD can be advantageous.

Car rental can be organized from Santiago Airport, Santiago City or Concepcion Airport.

The 490km (304 miles) drive from Santiago Airport to Nevados de Chillan takes about 6 hours. The 175km (109 miles) drive from Concepcion takes about 2.5 hours.

From Santiago get onto Ruta 5 (Autopista Central) going south (sur). This is the main highway south and the trip is reasonably fast with a speed limit of 120km/hour. Travel past the towns of Rancagua, Curico, Talca and finally San Carlos. There are various toll ways on the highway. Have cash with you and try not to run over the hordes of people trying to sell their wares at the toll booths!

Take the turn-off to Chillan. On the outskirts of town turn left into Av Ecquador and then right into Av Argentina. Go straight (with a veer to the left) at Av Collin which will get you onto Ruta 55 to Pinto. All these turns are signposted with small greens signs indicating the way to Termas de Chillan/Nevados de Chillan. The road that travels from Chillan to Valle Las Trancas is wide and nicely paved, and there are various petrol stations on the way.

Driving from Las Trancas to Nevados de Chillan
The drive from the town of Las Trancas up to the Nevados de Chillan Ski Resort is only 7 km. It's a very easy drive although sometimes on cross-over day on Sundays the traffic may be heavy. Or during heavy snowfall there can be lots of first-timers on the road doing silly things. The road is paved nearly all the way, it's wide, not steep, it has some safety rails, and the road is fringed by trees on either side which gives you a sense of security (unlike some of the roads at resorts at Tres Valles).

The last couple of kilometres from the bottom of the ski resort (and the Hotel Termas de Chillan) to the mid-base and the Hotel Alto Nevados is a bit steeper and unpaved. Rather stupidly the resort has put a checkpoint on the steepest part of the road, so you have to stop and then you may not regain traction when the road is snowy or icy.

You’re supposed to carry chains (cadenas) but it’s not heavily policed, although the chain rental guys might potentially be in cahoots with the police at times (and themselves – allegedly they sometimes pour water on the road just to make it slippery so that you rent chains!!!). The dodgy looking chain rental guys tend to hang out at the end of Las Trancas town or up the hill a little. The cost of the chain rental may depend somewhat upon how good you are at negotiating in Spanish. The price generally includes the fitting and removal of chains, and they may ask for your driver's license as a deposit.

Other Methods for Getting Between Las Trancas and the Ski Resort
You really need to have your own wheels if you’re staying in Las Trancas and are not on a tour. It is possible to get a taxi or private transfer to and from the resort, but this can be pretty expensive.

Hitchhiking also seems to be a common mode of transport.

Getting Around Nevados de Chillan

The accommodations and facilities of the Nevados de Chillan Resort are spread across three main areas. The main hub for the Nevados de Chillan ski area is about a quarter of the way up the ski area where there is a day car park and Hotel Alto Nevados.

The next major hub is a couple of km down the road at the Hotel Termas de Chillan. From the hotel down to the bottom of the ski area there are various condos that are dotted amongst the ski trails and the Hotel Nevados de Chillan. At the very bottom of the ski area there is another day car park.

It's possible to ski and use the lifts to get between these areas, or it’s an easy walk from the Gran Hotel down to the bottom of the ski area. There is no organized shuttle system that goes around the resort, but if you’re staying at the Hotel Alto Nevados you might be able to persuade someone to drive you down to the minimarket at the base if needs be.