SKI RESORT STATS
Resort height: 3000 meters
Ski Slopes: 10 km of skiable slopes
- Easy: 5 kilometers
- Intermediate: 3 kilometers
- Difficult: 2 kilometers
Ski Lifts: 7
Season: Ski season lasts from December to March. Ideal snowy months are during January and February.
Only one hour away from Morocco’s historic town, Marrakech, is North African’s best skiing resort. Yes, you can ski in Africa.
As one of the countries with vast and arid deserts, Morocco is never famous for snow sports. However, you might be surprised when visiting the country’s High Atlas Mountain region. It is where the highest ski resort of the continent is located – the Oukaimeden.
Oukaimeden a sleepy mountain village standing at around 2650 meters in the High Atlas. It is situated along the edge of Jebel Attar mountain and is the home to Africa’s highest lift.
The village is 75 kilometers to the north of Marrakech, the fourth largest city in the Kingdom of Morocco. Marrakech is a global tourist destination boasting a culture-haven Jeemah al Fna square. The snow-covered mountains of North Atlas are seen everywhere in Marrakech. Therefore, Oukaimeden is considered the most popular day trip from the busy city.
How to Get There
The transport links to Oukaimeden village are limited. Hence, it is recommended to travel via private vehicles from Marrakech. If you only intend to experience skiing a few hours from the buzzing heart of Morocco’s capital city, then you are in good hands. The Oukaimeden ski resort is small enough and can be explored in one day.
To start, you can drive from Marrakech towards Setti Fatma town in the Ourika Valley. The last stop before Setti Fatma is the foot of the mountain that leads you to Oukaimeden. To reach the high mountains, you are required to ride a chair lift.
You can also opt to ride a shared taxi from Marrakech, which usually costs 57-80 USD. Obviously, you need to agree with other passengers about your estimated time of return. These taxis can carry up to six passengers and leave from Rue IbnRochd. If you don’t know where Rue IbnRochd is, it is safe to ask the locals where the taxi stand and catch the Grand Taxi. The Grand Taxi is the only vehicle allowed to reach Oukaimeden. It is normally an old model of a Mercedes car.
Despite its size, the resort offers a selection of runs that are both friendly for beginners and challenging for advanced skiers. The longest slope is just over 3 kilometers.
There are a total of seven lifts that accommodates all levels of difficulty. The beginner’s nursery and the intermediate-level slopes are a six drag-lifts service. Meanwhile, the chairlift to the advance slopes is a single slow-moving one. The snow in the advance slope feels like hard off-piste ice.
Compared to western ski resorts, the Oukaimeden slopes have pistes that are not as groomed. However, since it is near sub-tropical Africa, you can experience the perfect spring-like snow weather that is neither too cold nor too hot. Some runs can be challenging for newbies, as there is a lack of signposts for boundaries and piste types. Perhaps this is its geography – the snow conditions can change drastically from icy hard to slushy snow.
The lifts will take you to the peak of Jebel Attar. Once there, there are five runs for the descent. A day pass is around $20. There are also options for non-skiers. You can enjoy the contrast of the panoramic view of the surrounding deserts from the snowy mountains.
Depending on the tour inclusions, you might have the opportunity to return to Marrakesh via the Ourika Valley. This valley is adorned with Berber gardens, fields, apple orchards, and walnut trees. If there’s ample time before sundown, set-up a picnic beside the banks of the Ourika River.
For side-trip lovers, the Ourika valley is connected with other Morrocan valleys. Check out the 4000-year old carvings from one of them!
Here is everyone’s favorite part: the mountain lodges.
As there are only a few options for accommodation in Oukaimeden resort, most of them are certainly ain’t cheap. If you could spare some cash, the best bet for you is Le Courchevel. The hotel has a multi-lingual staff that is fluent in Arabic, French, and English. Amenities include free buffet breakfast daily, a bar or lounge, a 24-hour front desk, and free newspapers in the lobby. There are 25 rooms with private bathroom and shower.