When you think about the best ski and snowboard spots in the world, the arid desert that dominates the African continent doesn’t usually come to mind. But there are mountains from Southern to Northern Africa that have developed into ski destinations — including a few that only the bravest should attempt. Here are the best spots in Africa for skiing and snowboarding.
Sources: GoLesotho.co.za, VisitMorocco.com, SkiResort.info, SouthAfrica.net, Tiffindell.co.za, News.BBC.co.uk, SnowBoardClub.co.uk, TripAdvisor.co.nz
Located in the Djurdjura mountain range of Northern Algeria, in the province of Bouïra, Tikjda ski resort reaches an altitude of 1,600 meters (5249 feet) and is an extremely popular spot with Algerians. After years of the area being deserted due to unrest and terrorist activities, the resort has reopened its doors. It experiences good snowfall during the winter season, and is ideal for skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, and more.
About 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Algiers, Chréa has returned to the bustling ski resort it was pre-1992, when military insecurity in the region forced many to abandon their winter vacations there. Though many of the hotels and chalets remained closed, the slopes are open, and thousands grab their skis, boards, sledges, and more to take full advantage of them.
AfriSki is the only ski resort in Lesotho. Located in the Maluti Mountains on the northern border with South Africa, the Lesotho resort is 3,050 meters (10,000 feet) above sea level, making it the highest-altitude ski resort in Africa. It accommodates approximately 250 people at a time, and offers a one-kilometer slope, along with a beginners slope. The area also boasts loads of nightlife and après ski opportunities.
Located in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, the Michlifen ski resort has been referred to as the “Moroccan Aspen” for its popularity with regional skiers and snowboarders. King Mohammed VI frequents Michlifen and has a large palace there. Many of Morocco’s top athletes visit the resort to train at altitude, better preparing them for international competitions.
Rounding out Morocco’s ski resort options, Oukaïmeden is located approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Marrakech in the Atlas mountains. It boasts several lifts in its skiing area, which is between 2,600- and -3,200 meters (8,530- to -10,500 feet) above sea level. Even during the busiest times, Oukaïmeden’s slopes are never too busy, and the runs from the tops of the chairlifts are suitable for most levels.
The only ski resort in South Africa, and one of just two in Southern Africa (along with AfriSki in Lesotho), Tiffindell is located in the Southern Drakensberg mountain area of the Eastern Cape, 24 kilometers (15 miles) from the town of Rhodes. Built on Ben Macdhui mountain, the resort sits at a relatively high elevation of 2,810 meters (9219), and its advanced snow-making system allows it to offer peak conditions for skiers throughout the winter season.
Though Matroosberg is used primarily by the Ski Club of South Africa, it still remains one of the only places to ski in Southern Africa. With two permanent ski lifts that require safety harnesses, it is only available for member use, but the facilities stretch up to 2,005 meters (6,578 feet) on Matroosberg. The mountain itself is 2,249 meters tall (7,378 feet).
Unfortunately, the hot desert climate of Egypt doesn’t quite lend itself to skiing down the sides of the Giza Pyramid, but powder hounds in Northern Africa may soon have a new option. Ski Egypt is a new indoor snow center scheduled for completion in 2016 that will cover more than 16 hectares (39 acres) of space. It is being built by the Majid Al Futtaim group, the same company behind Ski Dubai, the largest indoor ski area. Though construction was delayed by political unrest in the country, it has resumed, and excitement continues to grow.
Just kidding, it’s illegal. Don’t do it!