As the summer days get longer and hotter, who doesn’t start to pine for some fresh air and mountain views? If you just can’t wait until winter to get back on the slopes, good news: You don’t have to! Our friends to the south, Argentina, are currently in the depths of winter and home to some of the best skiing around. It’s the perfect way to break up the summer and trust me — that overnight flight is well worth it. Here’s everything you need to know to plan an awesome summer ski retreat in South America.
Time it Carefully
Just as anywhere, there can be no guarantees when it comes to weather and snow quality. July offers the best chance of that light, perfect powder, but it comes with the risk of a shallow base. August offers powder with a decent base, and September provides less powder and more rough, granular surfaces as the month progresses. Many resorts offer Saturday to Saturday discounts, so plan to spend as long as possible out in the snow!
Don’t Forget the Reciprocity Fee
Whatever you do, make sure this one gets ticked off your list early. Argentina charges $160 for Americans to enter, and here’s the kicker: it can not be paid on arrival. If you board your plane with the fee unpaid, you’ll be sent right back home on the next return flight. The good news is, your reciprocity fee is good for 10 years, so take full advantage for a decade!
Get Your Gear Right
Argentina has very strict taxes for imported goods, and they will not hesitate to charge you for any gear that looks like it’s going to be resold. Take great pains to take everything out of the box and remove all tags on new gear so there’s no ambiguity. You can rent gear at most resorts, but don’t expect it to be high quality. On the flip side, if you do want to sell your old or extra gear in a personal sale to make room for souvenirs on the way home, you can get great rates and make devoted friends in a heartbeat.
While the cost of living is significantly cheaper, you can expect most resorts to charge prices comparable to their American equivalents. When it comes to shopping in the cities, however, your USD can go a long way. It’s smart to exchange a little currency, but you’ll be surprised how little you need. Many vendors will prefer your American dollars, and will even give you a much better rate than you’ll find in their airport. It’s known as the “blue market.” As with any new place, guard your money carefully, especially in crowded public places like airports and bus stations, and never keep your whole stash in the same place.
You’ll be able to get around alright with English and hand gestures, but even a little effort to brush off your high school Spanish will go a long way, if not in apt communication then at least in goodwill with the locals you meet!