Skiing in Atlas Mountains

When you have tried some of the resorts that Europe has to offer, you might want to consider those that can be found in Africa. It is not the most obvious destination but the slopes of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco have facilities that are worth a look. While skiing is more of a hobby here than a serious sport, there are a couple of resorts which are ideal for those who want a winter sport break.

Mischliffen is a resort which can be found near Fes. This is not for the serious skier as it is small and you are taking a big chance with the conditions. As skiing is not yet a serious sport in Morrocco the facilities at this resort are currently a little lacking, so you might want to look further afield. The resort of Oukaimeden is a real ski resort. There are plenty of steep slopes and it boasts one of the highest lifts in Africa. This will take you right up to the summit which is more than 3000 meters above sea level and you will find 5 different runs there.

Oukaimeden is just 45 miles from the city of Marrakech so those taking a holiday in the city could break off for a day or two to try out the skiing facilities and many skiers choose to do this. There is a ski school and as there are plenty of slopes suitable for beginners it is a great resort for newbies.

When you arrive at the resort you will find everything that you need including a good quality rental shop where you can get everything from skis to outfits. You do need to be careful when you arrive as you will be greeted by plenty of ‘freelancers’ who are keen to sell you or rent out their own ski equipment. Even if they are cheaper it is better to hire from the official outlet as you can be sure of the quality there.

At the base level there are beginner slopes where you can warm up then you can take advantage of one of the most unusual features of this resort – donkey rides! For a small fee you can hitch a lift on a donkey to the chairlifts to take you up to the slopes. When you get to the top you will again find plenty of locals offering their services as guides for your trip back down the mountain, but you should be aware that they are often not experienced skiers themselves.

Something that skiers need to be aware of is that the slopes are not groomed by machine and there are occasions when the conditions are less than perfect. Even those who are experienced skiers will need to watch out for this as it could cause problems. There are no ski patrols on these slopes so if there are problems you need to be savvy enough to deal with it yourself. If the conditions are not right then it is okay not to ski back down but to use the lift instead. Watch out for runs such as Pistes des Mouflons which are dotted with rocks. Travel down the mountain a little cautiously until you are sure of your ground.

There are other facilities at the resort such as restaurants and cafes, so relaxing after a day on the slopes is easy. The cost of skiing here is much cheaper than at some of the European resorts but it does have a very Moroccan feel to it.

If you do decide to give Morocco a try for skiing, then the best time to go is between January and March. If you want to ski at weekends then you may find that the slopes are busy. Weekday skiing can be a little hit and miss with limited operations for the lifts. However, the good news is that the owners of the resort are to be investing in it in the near future and development will include luxury hotels and a golf course which is set to be the highest in the world.

The proximity to Marrakech means that the resort is easy to reach. International flights arrive at Marrakech airport from major cities all over the world and there are good links to the ski resort. At the moment, skiing here will not break the bank but as the facilities are upgraded it is set to become a little more expensive. This is not the most suitable resort for a family skiing holiday but with the development this may be the case in the future.

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