Despite the fact that much of Africa is a vast area of high temperatures, deserts and jungles, four countries can lay claim to having ski resorts. This is of course due to their mountain ranges and Morocco’s High Atlas lands which are 75km from the main city of Marrakech are the home of Oukaimeden. This is the main ski resort of the country and boasts the highest ski lift in Africa. Sitting at 3273 meters above the sea level allows for the snow to be pretty reliable from January until late March or April.
In addition, Ifrane and Mischliffen are also two areas where it is possible to ski and practice winter sports, but the infrastructure is more for those who can afford vacation homes in these more exclusive confines, while Oukaimeden is a place that is as easily accessible for those on an extended stay as well as a daytrip. Perhaps the most fascinating part of the journey here is that one can be by the swimming pool in Marrakesh with warm weather, then in just one hour one can be walking on and enjoying the alpine and majestic snowy views of the ski resort.
Local buses aren’t as frequent and direct as they need to be in order to be handy for tourists. Luckily however one can hire a taxi for a fair price. Most people quote it at around $35 USD to go and $45 USD to return. If you hire a car with a driver from your hotel it can cost almost double. Then of course there is the possibility to rent your own vehicle but an experienced driver is recommended since the Atlas mountain roads and the many Berber villages can be difficult to navigate. Drive towards the town of Setti Fatma in the Ourika Valley, the last exit before Setti Fatma at the foot of the mountain will take you to Oukaimeden. The road is covered and in good condition.
Oukaimeden itself looks like any other skiing place in the mountains of Europe, but with a beautiful Moroccan touch. Methods to get to the top of the mountain include ski lift, t bar or even a donkey ride. January and February are the peak times with the best snow. There are five major ski runs and the longest is around 2km for a thrilling drop for all levels of skiing and snowboarding skill.
Day passes for the slopes were about $10 USD. One can arrange accommodations before or on arrival prices can be about $12/night and upwards including breakfast, There are three recommended hotels in the area: Hotel Club Louka, the environs could certainly use an update, but it is very large and so often has vacancy for guests in and out of season. Chez Juju, is built up with new rooms in chalet style with adequate bathrooms facilities. Club Alpin Francais This is a mega complex but it is well kept up and a good place to rest between runs and overnight.