Thursday, January 11, 2018

Skiing in Morocco, Snow and Sand Dunes in the Sahara Desert

Nobody goes south to ski. However, there are beautiful places farther south, such as Morocco. First the unlikely camel ride on skis. Then climbing up the dune barefoot. Finally, it needs the skis to slide, and only somewhat resembles the snow when you catch some speed. The Dades Valley is unique for its spectacular contrasts for much of the year, with the snow peaks of the High Atlas on one side and semi-desert terrain on the other.

The Sahara Desert is certainly one of the great attractions of Morocco. It houses a unique ecosystem, with very unique beauty spots and structures where time seems to have stopped. All seasoned with the local Berber population noted for its hospitality and for the preservation of their traditions. Here are a few of the major surprises of our trips to the Sahara desert in Morocco. It is quite an unforgettable adventure!

Sahara Desert in its purest form

Does the thought of Sahara desert bring to mind images of dromedaries, desert camps or sunrises between the dunes? Yes, you're right! From Marrakech, after crossing the High Atlas and in just a few hours you can reach unimaginable places. A good example is Erg Chegaga, near Zagora, with its spectacular sea of dunes. But also the environment Ouzina, dominated by an extraordinary aridity. Or the Fint oasis is as exuberant as a startling counterpoint. And there are many other places where mass tourism has not yet arrived, or expected.

Valleys, gorges and charming landscapes

In the environment of the Sahara desert and mountains of the High Altas pristine and unusual beauty spots are located. For example, the Todgha gorge or Dades chiseled into the rock as cliffs and canyons, which will remain forever in the eye of the traveler. Rivers and waterways also give us places to be enjoyed with all senses. The Rose Valley is a good example, with its heady scents in spring. Draa Valley with its more than 100 kilometers has winding houses and pleasant spots of date palms.

Sahara Desert Cities

Merzouga, near Algeria, is one of the great undiscovered gems. Like Kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It has also been the film sets of some major Hollywood productions such as Lawrence of Arabia. Ouarzazate, Rissani or Erfoud. There are other visitable places near the desert, perfect to learn more about the culture and customs of the indigenous population.

And of course, there is Marrakech, the point of departure and arrival for most of the trips to the Sahara desert in Morocco. Its medina, also protected by UNESCO, is a fascinating historic site built by Almoravid, Almohad, and Saadi that still is alive than ever.

Snow in Sahara

Morocco has two ski areas, which are Michliffen and Djebel Hebri. The two stations are near Meknes and Fez in the north, and Oukaïmeden, west of Marrakech. On the other hand, Oukaïmeden is 70 kilometers east of Marrakech, in the Atlas. Its base is at 2600 meters above sea level and slopes reach up to 3269 m.

Djebel Hebri

The smallest, and with almost no infrastructure, is Djebel Hebri. It is a station with two slopes, rather short but fairly steep. So it does not lack the adventure. The two tracks serve as firewalls. There are no hotels and no service except skiing passes. However the treatment of any client, even abroad, is excellent.


Michliffen has a considerable choice of hotels and resorts. Similar to Djebel there is a kind of firewall partly but with more tracks on the sides and a large open area for the "tourists".


Oukaïmeden is the largest station in the three by far. It has a chairlift that climbs to the top of the mountain and 6 lifts at the base station. The descent is long and always off track. Snow is usually quite wet, but with a little luck, you can make some of the best free-rides of your lives. Then there is the adventure and hidden place where it is partly relatively close to the beginning of the Sahara. There is no shortage of luxurious and expensive hotels, as in Ifrane.

Oukaimeden has steep slopes and lacks Pisa-track machine. If someone needs an instructor prices vary (unlike the rest of the world) in terms of training. "National" teachers (maximum qualification) charge about 100 Dirhams.

You can also ski on sand dunes in the Sahara, more specifically in the Great Dune of Ouarzazate. It is located west of Marrakech, right at the beginning of the desert. The experience is unique and different.

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