Upon pickup from your hotel around 8am, relax on the approximate 1.5-hour drive (depending on weather conditions) to the Valle Nevado ski resort, located about 42 miles (68 km) to the east of Santiago. Your guide will follow the steep and winding road through the cordillera (mountain range) along most of the Mapocho River Canyon (Cajon de Mapocho) until reaching the ski resort high in the Andes mountains.
Once you arrive at Valle Nevado, you’ll spend about one hour at the ski resort, including a drive by 4x4 vehicle or van to the highest point, reaching approximately 9,840 feet (3,000 meters). Step out of your vehicle into the fresh mountain air and enjoy a bit of free time playing in the snow (May-Sept), or purchase a cup of coffee at a resort cafe as you take in the stunning views.
Admire the 17,814-foot (5,430-meter) summit of El Plomo, the highest visible peak that can be seen from the resort and considered by the Incas to be sacred. Learn about the Niño de Plomo (Plomo Boy) who was buried there in a ritual sacrifice more than 500 years ago, and how the well-preserved mummy was discovered in 1954 – now on permanent display in the Natural History Museum of Chile.
Afterward, your guide will drive your group for approximately one hour back to Santiago for lunch. Enjoy mouth-watering French cuisine accompanied by a large assortment of wine by the glass (own expense).
Follow up your meal with a visit to Cousino Macul, founded in 1856. When you arrive at the vineyard located in the Maipo Valley, take a one-hour guided tour of the winery – from the famous Casillero del Diablo cellar to the beautiful vineyard – as your guide explains the production of vines, leaves, grapes and wine.
Learn about the clay loam of the soil and the Mediterranean climate that makes ideal growing conditions for these Maipo Valley varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Riesling. You’ll hear about the mineral-rich water that irrigates the vines from the Maipo River, which flows down from thawed snow high in the Andes – making Chile an exceptional grape-growing region of the world.
You’ll have a chance to try the best Cousino Macul wines with a wine tasting (own expense) before the one-hour drive to downtown Santiago, with drop-off at your hotel by 6pm.