Snow Skiing in Morocco
While the snows over the last two years in Morocco have been minimal, the industry is one that is growing. Investors and hotel chains are looking at turning the country into a hub of international sport. Snow skiing and other snow activities like Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and High Atlas freestyle skiing are all possible in Morocco. And, if well planned, can turn a regular holiday into an adventure.
The snow line in Morocco is around 1000 meters (3,300 feet). When the snow does fall, the higher one travels, the better the conditions will be for snow skiing in Morocco. In fact, snow in the famed Oukaimeden can last until mid-April if coverage during the winter months is significant. In Ifrane, Jebel Mischliffen is the most popular area to ski in the Middle Atlas region. Since the French established the area as a mini ski resort in the 1950s, not much has changed, which is unfortunate due to the grand prospects that await the right developers who can balance the wondrous nature of the area with the right quality equipment and amenities that will keep people coming back year after year. The current skiers who frequent the area are mainly Moroccans who come just one hour away from Fez, Meknes, and even as far as Rabat and Casablanca if a snow report seems promising.
One project in Morocco that investors are re-considering is the opening up of a mountain resort area called Bou Iblane. True that there is no real resort in the area as of yet, but a road was built, along with a car park area that some travelers with 4x4s are able to access if any snow has fallen. The area is about 120 kilometers (80 miles) from Fez and should see a greater amount of skiers looking to get away from the sometimes crowded Mischliffen or Oukaimeden. For the adventurous, the area has slopes that reach above 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) and as it becomes more developed, what was once believed as a winter skiing resort that offered some real adventure.
Oukaimeden, which is only 74 kilometers (45 miles) from Marrakesh, is the best-known, premier ski area in all of Morocco. The area is maintained and snowplows keep the roads clear and clean. The main ski months are from mid-December until around the end of March. Sometimes, however, snow can last until mid- or late-April. New ski lifts mean nearly flawless operation and the area, while new accommodation means that skiers can have a nice relaxing après-ski in a rented chalet if so desired.
One of the most adventurous, but dangerous places to ski in Morocco is Tazaghart, which is not for the faint hearted. In fact, those who come to Morocco to attempt its slopes tend to be professionals who have adequate insurance coverage for repriation, beacons, GPS equipment, and loads of gear. The area shouldn’t be taken lightly and only those who obsess about mountain skiing at its roughest attempt its slopes. While the business of air-charter skiing is becoming a bit more prevalent, the local Marrakesh government is attempting to balance the demand with the annoyances involved. For the super rich, influential, or sponsored, the option might be available, but for those who just want to save the chore of mounting the Jebel, then the option isn’t available. While other development plans are underway in the Bou Guemez Valley in the Middle High Atlas Mountains, skiers who aren’t waiting around for policy makers to decide what to do with the area head to Mount Azurki. At 3, 600 meters (nearly 12,000 feet), the area isn’t mentioned as much as it once was as possibly the best skiing area in the entire country. Once at the top, trails of over 1,000 meters (3,000 feet) are to be had, but again, the trails aren’t for those who haven’t had ample training in the art of mountain skiing. In any regard, Morocco is and will continue to be a hot spot for skiing in the entire Maghreb Region of Africa.