My winter months are spent in Meribel, in the French Alps, running our catered chalet business. I have been skiing for many years and my husband, Ed, is a ski instructor in the resort. When time permits, we enjoy nothing more than strapping on our fat skis and exploring the fabulous off piste that the Three Valleys have to offer. Very occasionally, we get the opportunity to take our skiing one step further and have the special treat of a bit of heliskiing.
Heliskiing is often seen as expensive and the preserve of the wealthy (and it isn’t cheap), but as with all things in life, you get what you pay for and it is an exceptional experience that everyone should try.
There are numerous heliskiing companies in the Alps, but I thought I would spread our wings a bit further afield, to find something truly superb and so I have looked more globally at the best heliskiing on offer.
Some of the greatest heliskiing can be found in South America in Argentina and some spectacular parts of Pategonia in Chile. There are a number of operators who can supply a memorable six day package which will typically include about 10 hours of flying time over the six days and luxury accommodation. You’ll have to add on your airfares and transfers but the heliskiing packages generally cost between €10-15,000 per person.
Iceland is also considered an excellent location for that ‘get away from it all’ experience. There are a number of operators who can look after you well if you are looking for something totally different and skiing to the water’s edge is on your bucket list. Again, a six day package will be in the region of €10-15,000 not including flights to Iceland.
However there are some heliskiing options that have to be the peak of luxury adventure travel and that is combining yachting and heliskiing. As the guys from Viking Heliskiing who are based in Iceland say, ‘Imagine the possibility you have with the sailboat and the helicopter ready to take you wherever you want to ski!”
Patagonia is served by the Nomads of the Sea, a 45,7 meter long expedition yacht, where you’ll find a Bell 407 helicopter, a Hurricane 920 R.I.B. Zodiac Boat, 6 jet boats, 2 SOLAS rescue boats, 6 portable zodiac boats for shell fishing excursions and 2 jet ski motorboats for special operations. The price if booked individually is between US$10-20,000 per week, or taking the boat as a private charter will set you back in the region of US$400,000.
But for the ultimate in yacht heliskiing look no further than Cloudbreak, a 72.5m super yacht that offers extreme exploration in the world’s most remote regions. Accommodation onboard is for 12 guests in 7 sumptuous suites, and includes an onboard spa area that has to be the ultimate space for winding down after a day of exploration and adventure, featuring a sauna, pool, massage room and gym. The only drawback? Well it’s €750,000 for a week’s charter and that probably doesn’t include the fuel for the helicopter!
Wherever you choose to go this winter, whether on piste or in the back of beyond, stay safe and have fun.
Anne Wooley is Owner at Ski Cuisine.
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