- 45 miles from Marrakech
- 5 runs at 3258m
- Nursery and intermediate slopes
- 4 drag lifts
- Ski hire
- Ski school
Just 45 miles from Marrakech in the High Atlas Mountains, Oukaimeden is Africa’s highest ski resort, the village perched at 2,600m and its chairlift rising to the peak of Jebel Attar at 3,258m and servicing 5 runs at this height. There are also four drag lifts servicing the nursery and intermediate slopes.
It has many of the facilities you would typically find in a European resort, but all done in a very Moroccan way. The ski hire shops offer dated but fairly well-maintained skis and boots for around £15 a day. The alternative is to take your chances with the many unofficial renters, whose “shops” consist of piles of 1980s skis and boots costing about £5 laid out in the mud. A lift pass costs approx. £9; ski lessons range from £4 to £10 an hour, and donkeys instead of shuttle buses, amble back and forth between lifts.
The chairlift is slow, and you are never far from the ground so it is great for those who are afraid of heights! At the top you will find young men offering to be your ‘guide’, and with just a few signs pointing vaguely in several directions and the boundaries being unmarked, many tourists will opt to hire them. But beware; as with Faux guides all over Morocco, they will not necessarily have any real knowledge or expertise. We would recommend a ski instructor, especially if you are a beginner or intermediate.
The snow is not groomed flat here (although the instructors will tell you they are!), the pistes are bumpy and make turning difficult, so be prepared for a challenging run! The longest run is 3km, and none of the runs from the top of the chairlift are easy. The main runs are Grand Combe (a steep mogul-field) and Pistes des Mouflons, which is dotted with huge boulders. The slopes tend to be un-crowded – even when busy – and skiers pick their way cautiously rather than swooshing is smooth turns.
The nursery slopes are reasonably well groomed, and there is also a large sledging area.
It is not worth staying at the resort, as snow can be very hit and miss. As it is so close to Marrakech it is better to go for day trips whilst staying in the comfort of a stylish hotel in the city, or staying at the nearby villages of Asni, Ouirgane, or the Ourika Valley.
Dubai-based company Emaar is going to be investing $1.4 billion in Oukaimeden – improving the infrastructure, updating the lifts and runs, introducing snow-cannons, building 11 luxury hotels and installing the world’s highest 18-hole golf course. Planning has already started so in due course this truly old-fashioned little ski resort will probably start to look much like any other.