26 December 2012

Morocco: Go Off the Beaten Piste This Winter - the Snow Is Good in Morocco's Atlas Mountains

With ski season just around the corner, consider heading to one of these unusual ski spots this year. Forget the crowds in the French Alps or Aspen and try the slopes of Morocco or Dubai.

Morocco is normally associated with spice markets and camel-back desert tours, but those looking for some unusual slopes can head 80 kilometers south from Marrakesh to the Oukaimeden Ski Resort, located in the Atlas Mountains at 3,000 meters altitude, making it the highest ski resort in Africa.

The months of the year for the best snow are from January until March. Oukaimeden's village sits at 2,600m and its chairlift rises to 3,258m - the peak of Jebel Attar. Five runs come down from this dizzying height; elsewhere are four drag lifts servicing the nursery and intermediate slopes.

With an average temperature of 23°C during the winter months and an average high of 40°C during the summer, no one would expect to find snow in Dubai, and yet this city seems to offer just about everything. In addition to its impressive skyline of recent developments, Dubai has a site offering manmade snow. Inside the mall of Emirates, skiers can take to the Ski Dubai slopes all year round with its 3000 square meters (32,292 sqft) devoted to skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing.

No more than an hour away from Beirut, the Mzaar Ski resort in Lebanon offers top-quality slopes and accommodation, with the highest peaks at 2465m and the lowest at 1913m. The resort is a good option for skiers of all levels with 42 slopes. On a clear day, skiers can enjoy a view of Beirut.

Tasmania offers spectacular coastlines as well as access to some of the most impressive wildlife. The Australian island state's ski resort, Ben Lomond, is also becoming an increasingly popular draw. The resort stands at 1,453 meters. On their journey to the resort, skiers can take in a view of the island's rain forest. Snow-making machinery installed in 2011 ensures the quality of the snow.

Enthusiastic skiers need to wait for the coldest spells of winter in order to enjoy skiing on the slopes of Mount Olympus in the Troodos Mountains of Cyprus. The clear Mediterranean sky combined with fresh powder is not to be missed. The resort offers four ski lifts and limited equipment to hire as well as four slopes with the highest one at 1,951 m altitude.

The Alps Resort in South Korea offers skiers the possibility to climb to the summit of the Jinburyeong plateau, and observe the Eastern Sea and Mount Seoraksan. The resort offers slopes for all levels of skiers as well as a picturesque setting.

Agence France Press/AFP, MACC

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