Best ski destinations in Morocco
Best ski destinations in Morocco: Skiing and snow destinations in Morocco?! Really? When you think of Morocco, the first thing that comes to mind is certainly not snow or skiing. The country of the desert, of scorching temperatures? Skiing where in the sands of the Sahara Desert? Not at all! As so often happens in countries of a certain size, reality goes beyond stereotypes. Yes, there are ski resorts in Morocco, just as there are in Turkey, Iraq or Iran.
In fact, Morocco is one of three African countries – the others are Lesotho and South Africa – where you can ski and it is especially popular with winter sports-loving Maghreb tourists who can travel here without the problems of obtaining a visa to enter Europe.
Although Morocco is not famous among travelers for its ski slopes, the truth is that it is possible to go down some good snow-covered slopes and that a bit of variety will only enhance Morocco tours to the country
The same applies to snowboarding, which can be practiced in Morocco, as well as other types of winter sports, in the same areas used for skiing. One sign of these possibilities is Morocco’s presence at the Winter Olympics. At the 2018 edition, which took place in South Korea, Morocco presented two athletes, one in alpine skiing and the other in cross-country skiing.
Oukaimeden is Morocco’s most popular ski resort, with twenty sections totaling 10 km of slopes (5 km of blue slopes, 3 km of red slopes, and 2 km of black slopes) and a gradient of 658 m, between 2610 m and 3258 m. The longest trail is 3 km and it should be noted that none of the options that start at the top are easy. The “black” sections are especially tricky, due to the poor maintenance of the tracks and the existence of rock under the snow.
Skiing in Oukaimeden
Seven elevators are available at Ouikameden, but the more extreme can opt for a donkey or camel ride to the top of the slopes.
Ouikameden is located in the High Atlas mountain system, an astonishing 75 km south of Marrakech and is the highest winter sports resort in Africa, with the Jebel Attar peak at 3258 m above sea level.
Ideal conditions vary from year to year, but to be on the safe side, if you’re planning to come here for a bit of winter sports, it’s best to show up between mid-January and mid-February.
The slopes are kept to a minimum and snowplows keep the roads passable. For the rest, if the traveler woke up in Oukaimeden with absolutely no references, he might think for a moment that he was in a European resort. Apart from the darker complexion of the crowd and the slightly different architecture, almost everything here is reminiscent of the quality guaranteed in European resorts.
However, despite being safe, the slopes can raise some doubts, and some skiers prefer to hire a local to make sure they don’t go off course.
Best ski destinations in Morocco
Best ski destinations in Morocco: There are specialty stores, hotels and ski schools. Those who quite justifiably don’t want to travel with their own gear or don’t have ski equipment can rent everything they need in Oukaimeden. The items available are generally in good condition, although they may be a little obsolete. Basic ski equipment costs around 17 euros a day in the resort’s official store, and around a third of that in parallel stores, where the equipment is truly archaic. By the way, a pass for the elevator service costs around 10 euros a day and those who want to take ski lessons should expect to pay between 4 and 9 euros an hour.
No one will go hungry in Oukaimeden. There are a good number of stalls serving various Moroccan delicacies and a hotel restaurant, Chez Juju, suitable for a more conventional meal.
Best ski destinations in Morocco
Wealthy Moroccans have been coming here to ski for a long time, but in recent years there has been a growing demand from foreigners, almost always surprised by the possibility of practicing winter sports in Morocco. However, there has been a decrease in snowfall and there is some concern among ski lovers.
The typical period for skiing in this resort, when good snow cover is almost guaranteed, is January and February, especially between the 15th and 18th of these months. But with luck, skiing conditions can be found in December and in years with good snowfall, this season can extend until mid-April.
How to get to Oukaimeden
Best ski destinations in Morocco: It’s best to have your own car, but if you really don’t want to, then the solution is a grand taxi from Bab er-Rob / Rue Ibn Rochd in Marrakesh, which will cost you something like 500 Dirhams (around 44 Euros). But, of course, everything is negotiable. A third alternative is to join a tour organized by one of Marrakesh’s tour companies.
Note that many of those who go to Oukaimeden to ski, especially the locals, choose to do so from Marrakesh, a journey that will take a couple of hours each way.
Where to stay in Oukaimeden
I’m not going to say that there are tons of places to stay in Oukaimeden but, especially if you have a private car at your disposal, there are dream possibilities for ridiculously low prices, so much so that you might even consider visiting the region outside the ski season.
Les Jardins du Toubkal are rated 9.6 by Booking.com users and a double room there costs just 19 euros, with breakfast included and other meals available for an additional price. The rooms are pleasant and nicely decorated, and there are breathtaking views from the terrace. If you’re traveling with a large group, there are even better deals, with quadruple and triple rooms and even a four-bedroom apartment for 90 euros a day. However, this accommodation is located in Imlil, about 8 km from the village of Oukaimeden, not the best for those arriving by public transport.
For the rest, the hospitality of the Atlas people is felt in almost all the offers in this region, with well-appointed spaces and excellent hosts who help make for an unforgettable stay. It’s just a matter of finding the accommodation you like best in the Oukaimeden area.
Ifrane – Michlifen
Although Oukaimeden is the only real ski resort in Morocco, Ifrane may have a lot to offer lovers of the sport. It is located in the Atlas Mountains, about 65 km south of Meknes and Fes, and is known for the Michlifen ski resort, which is the second most popular ski resort in the country after Oukaimeden.
Skiing in Michlifen
Best ski destinations in Morocco: In Michlifen we find some accessible slopes, suitable for beginners and intermediate skiers, served by an elevator, although it is possible to simply walk to the top. The slopes are short and the elevators obsolete, but even so there are those who are keen to do a bit of skiing in a country as unlikely as Morocco and for those visiting the country with their backpacks on, this is the best place for winter sports.
It is advisable to bring your own equipment. If you can’t, there’s always the option of renting, either at Michlifen station or in the village of Ifrane.
A special feature of Ifrane is its alpine atmosphere, which can be explained by the French influence since most of the buildings here date back to the time of the French Protectorate. The ski resort was built in the 1950s and has remained practically unchanged ever since.
How to get to Michlifen
Unlike other places suitable for skiing in Morocco, you can get to Ifrane by bus. CTM, as well as some local companies, provide these connections. CTM even has an office in Ifrane, in the eastern part of the city, after the market, and this is where the company’s buses arrive and depart. The others use the bus terminal, southwest of the market, for their operations. There are bus connections to Fes and Meknes, both direct routes to Ifrane and routes to Marrakesh that pass through here.
If you prefer or need to, there are grand taxis that run from Meknes and Fes to Ifrane. Expect to pay 150 Dirhams to and from any of these cities. That’s if you need to hire the whole car. If you share, it will be 25 Dirhams per person. Note that you may be able to find grand cabs to Ifrane directly from Fes airport, but expect to pay a little more for this.
Where to stay in Michlifen
Unfortunately, there isn’t much accommodation on offer in the town, which has around 13,000 inhabitants, and many visitors opt to stay in Azrou, which is 15 minutes away and 6 Dirhams by grand taxi. However, there is a hotel directly in the ski resort, the famous and luxurious Michlifen Resolt & Golf, which has the largest spa in Africa. For those with their own car, it’s possible to stay in one of the nearby towns, spend a day doing snow sports in Michlifen and return for dinner in Fez or Meknes.
Other snowy places in Morocco
Best ski destinations in Morocco: This area is not for beginners. Nor is it for intermediate skiers. No, skiing in Tazaghart is adrenaline-pumping and only professionals come here, at least if they are aware of what they are doing. Skiing in Tazaghart doesn’t just require skis and flashy clothes. The skiers who can be seen on these slopes come equipped with top-of-the-range equipment and high-tech accessories. Tazaghart is not far from Oukaimeden, but don’t expect the same facilities as in the famous Moroccan resort. No, to get to Tazaghart you have to climb to the top of Mount Jebel and the only support there is a shelter at an altitude of 3,000 meters.
Cool name. Although it can’t currently be called a winter tourism destination, there is an investment in the area that indicates a promising future for the region’s snowy slopes. It’s in the Fes area, about 120 km from the city, and could become a good alternative for those who want to ski in Morocco away from the larger concentrations of skiers who flock to the most popular spots.
Aït Bou Guemez
Located in the central area of the High Atlas, this valley has been sought out by less conventional skiers. There are no downhill slopes here and no mechanical climbs to the summits. Aït Bou Guemez is used for off-piste skiing, which requires specific equipment and a certain amount of skill. There are no resorts, hotels or ski equipment rentals in Aït Bou Guemez. You will be on your own and if you feel the need for support you should hire a specialist company to help you enjoy the best of skiing in this area. Aït Bou Guemez is home to Mount Azurki, which rises to 3,600. Skiing here is very difficult, only for experts and those with the necessary skills will have the best skiing in Morocco.
Best ski destinations in Morocco: This area is not for beginners. Nor is it for intermediate skiers. No, skiing in Tazaghart is full of adrenaline and only professionals come here, at least if they are aware of what they are doing. Skiing in Tazaghart doesn’t just require skis and flashy clothes. The skiers who can be seen on these slopes come equipped with top-of-the-range equipment and high-tech accessories. Tazaghart is not far from Oukaimeden, but don’t expect the same facilities as in the famous Moroccan resort. No, to get to Tazaghart you have to climb to the top of Mount Jebel and the only support there is a shelter at an altitude of 3,000 meters.