Just an hour and a half from Marrakech lies Oukaimeden, a small ski town that you just don’t expect to find in Morocco; a country famous for its heat and desert. Located in the High Atlas Mountains Oukaimeden has the perfect conditions for snow. Well, the most perfect you will find in Africa anyway. Whilst not on the same level as what you would expect to find in say Europe, or other western countries, it certainly makes for an adventure.
If like me you’ve never skied before, good luck. There is no one to teach you what you are doing, so you just have to figure it out for yourself, but it really is a lot of fun. The ski lift is a button lift, which means it’s a round disc thing that looks like, you guessed, a button, that you have to somehow get yourself onto skis and all as it comes whizzing past. If you’re after a bit of entertainment before you try skiing for yourself watch the lift for a while as people seem to find it hard to stay on this thing, and often end up face first in the snow half way up the ski slope. Needless to say, I opted to walk up the mountain before I tried to ski back down it.
My one word of advice if you’ve never skied before is practice stopping before you do anything else. My first time down the mountain (and when I say down the mountain, I mean I walked up about two metres before skiing back down) I managed to stay upright and was quite proud of myself when it occurred to me I needed to stop. Something I had no idea how to do, so I ended up on my bum. But hey, at least I didn’t take anyone out with me. Getting up also seems to be something that needs practice. So make sure you have someone handy to pull you out of the snow when you inevitably fall over.
The best way to get to Oukaimeden is with your own car. It is possible to organise a tour, but they are extremely expensive, and driving to Oukaimeden from Marrakech is extremely easy, so having a guide isn’t necessary. The drive as you wind your way up into the Atlas Mountains is breathtaking, and worth your time even if you don’t plan on skiing.
Once you get to Oukaimeden, you will be directed where to park your car and they will even shovel snow for you if necessary, so you need to pay a small fee for the assistance. Once you’ve parked and are all ready to go, you walk past the hotels and up to the ski slope. Make sure you leave your things in the car as there is nowhere to put them. You will have everyone trying to rent you their equipment for a small fee so pick the one you want and you’re ready to go.
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