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Hell Yes, Helicopters! Three Extreme Excursions in Chile

Where: Chile
October 1, 2012 at 3:48 PM | by | ()

What countries do you think of when it comes to extreme sports? Costa Rica, sure. Switzerland, all right. Australia and New Zealand, definitely. But Chile? CHILE.

Though Chile may be known as the safest country in Latin America, it's not above gassing up a helicopter for some unique adrenaline-addled adventure. Here's the three that figure highest on our bucket list:

· Heli skiing & snowboarding at Valle Nevado
We'll start out easy as almost everyone's heard of heli-skiing, right? If you're experienced, taking a helicopter up to go off-piste means more than just bragging rights; it means stunning Andes views and natural snow conditions. Valle Nevado, being perched on a mountaintop as it is, offers heliski trips that lift off from less than five minutes' walk from the hotels, at a very low cost compared to what you'd pay in Aspen or the Alps.

The highest prices come during high season, from July 7 to August 15. We hit Valle Nevado on a day trip at the tail end of the season in mid-September and, though we didn't head up in the heli, we came to see how this spot is ridiculously ideal for such special departures. As Nike says, just do it.
Price: $210 per run, plus per person gear rental (Skis, boots, poles or snowboard and boots) of $57 to $68.

· Heli bungee jumping in Pucón
So you've bungee-jumped "everywhere," huh? Or maybe you've been saving your first time for somewhere special. Well, this would be it. For $12.5K per person, you get a 6-day/5-night trip including hotel, airport transfers, meals, drinks, a T-shirt, whitewater rafting, hot springs, and the highlight bungee jump.

That bungee jump, by the way, is from a helicopter as it overs above the bubbling, lava-filled caldera of the Villarrica volcano outside Pucón. You'll fly 35 miles to reach the spot, then jump from the copter's skids on a 350-ft bungee cord to end up 700 feet above the lively lava. For the ride back to the helipad, you'll continue to hang out at the end of the cord while flying 80mph. AHH!!!!
Price: $12,500 per person

· Heli wine tasting in the Casablanca and San Antonio Valleys
It's about time for extreme wine tasting, don't you think? Start the day slowly with a private transfer from your Santiago hotel out to the Casablanca Valley and Loma Larga Vineyards. Have a tour and a taste or two and then hop in the personal helicopter of Loma Larga's owner.

He'll then buzz you over other vineyards of the valley—the Andes making for dramatic scenery—until it's time for lunch and a landing for another tour, tasting, and even a bike ride in the San Antonio Valley at Viña Matetic.
Price: one traveler: $826.00; two travelers, per person: $483.00; three travelers, per person: $369.00

[Photos: Santiago Adventures]

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