Volcano affects South American travel

Comments by Leah Fielding/

With the Southern Chilen Puyehue volcano now nearly into its second month of eruption, travel, particularly snow-sports related tourism is feeling the effects. Because the volcano is located in the Southern region of the Chilean Andes, just across the border from Bariloche, Argentina, it's also affecting travel and transportation there.

SASS Global Travel Director of Communications, Ryan Dunfee said the ski resorts are reporting nearly a 70-percent decrease in guests due to the volcano. Dunfee is currently in Bariloche, Argentina, hosting the SGT Argentina "freeride" camps. No thanks to the volcano, SASS Global Travel, and their attendees have had to re-work flights and trasportation to and from Bariloche. 

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"We normally use Bariloche airport coming from Buenos Aires, but that's closed due to the minimal amount of ash that occasionally sweeps through the area." said Dunfee, "So, we flew clients to Esquel for Session 1, which is a very small airport about three hours away from here.  It's pretty hectic there given the amount of passengers coming through such a small facility, and it adds significant cost and logistical burden to put clients through that route."

Now into Session 2, SGT resolved those issues for attendees with a swanky bus ride from the Buenos Aires international airport. "…[the bus has] business-class (cama class) seats that lay back, have individual TVs, food and drink service, and is far more direct," said Dunfee.

Despite the travel "snafoos" all participants seem to be enjoying themselves, and the lack of crowds, according to Dunfee. 

Further North, in Chile, the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour is coming up on Stop 2 of the season at Ski Arpa. "The volcano has been a little troublesome when it comes to communications," said Sara Waldman, senior communications director for Mountain Sports International.

Waldman said she doesn't expect the volcano will affect the big-mountain event set to take place August 18-21.

Eye of the Condor event in La Parva kicks off today, but isn't expected to be affected by the volcano because it's too far North, and winds are blowing West.

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Check out amazing photos of the volcano at Boston.com