When you think of North Africa, you may associate it with the Sahara Desert and dry, hot temperatures, and the last idea on your mind is snow, but did you know Morocco snowboarding is a thing? The High Atlas Mountains get chilly enough for a perfect snow-covered ground for snowboarding.
When snowboarding in Morocco, you should consider the following:
1. Where to snowboard
2. Getting to the location
3. When to go
4. What to bring with
5. Altitude sickness
1. Where To Snowboard
You’ll be amazed to know that there are three locations for Morocco snowboarding! The High Atlas mountains offer snowboarders and skiers a high-adrenaline escape in Oukaimeden, Michlifen, and Ifrane. Those who are hike-experienced and adventurous can snowboard in Jebel Toubkal.
Oukaimeden is the most common snowboarding location, and you can rent gear, so you don’t have to worry about bringing any. This snowboarding area is situated 47 miles from Marrakech, and it is easy to book a tour for a day out in the snowy goodness.
The stunning location has a 2100-foot slope accessible with the chair lift. It has 12 miles of flattened snow to enjoy safely, with sections marked by the experience level.
Oukaimeden, nestled in the High Atlas Mountains of North Africa, is one of the most popular ski resorts in the region. The resort offers a variety of amenities, including ski school for those looking to sharpen their skills on the slopes, as well as six drag lifts and a ski lift to provide access to different parts of the mountain. With a range of slopes catering to skill levels, everyone from beginners to extreme sports enthusiasts can enjoy the exhilarating experience of snowboarding at this unique location.
In addition to the main ski resort, Oukaimeden offers guided ski tours, allowing visitors to explore the breathtaking scenery of the High Atlas Mountains, as well as the opportunity to visit nearby Berber villages. A ski tour will often include local knowledge about the region’s history and culture, ensuring a memorable and enriching experience.
For those who don’t have their own equipment, Oukaimeden has several rental shops where you can find everything you need for a day on the slopes, including snowboards, boots, and helmets. Lift passes can be purchased at the resort, providing hassle-free access to the various ski lifts and drag lifts.
After an exciting day of snowboarding, visitors can unwind with a hot cup of mint tea at one of the resort’s cozy cafés, while taking in the stunning views of the surrounding mountains and Ourika Valley. With its unique blend of adventure, culture, and natural beauty, Oukaimeden truly offers a snowboarding experience unlike any other in North Africa.
Michlifen is in the Middle Atlas region, 50 miles South of the popular city of Fez. The drop is 650 feet long, and there are four piste areas for all level boarders. There is also a chair to get you to the tip-top of the piste area, which is 6650 feet above sea level! Snowboarding and ski gear are available to rent.
In the village of Imlil lays an entry up to Jebel Toubkal, where there is a refuge area perfect for snowboarding and getting in touch with nature. You’ll need to be physically fit to hike around the area and need plenty of off-piste experience to be able to snowboard in the raw snow safely. Imlil is a 1-and-a-half-hour drive from Marrakech, which is 42 miles away.
2. Getting To The Location
The other Morocco snowboarding locations are easier to access than Jebel Toubkal, but a high effort equals a high reward for the tougher-to-reach location. If you’re a beginner or intermediate snowboarder, you’ll go to the Oukaimeden and Michlifen snowboarding resorts, as it’s easier to get around and have other beginners around you too.
Michlifen will have fewer people around than Oukaimeden. Jebel Toubkal is completely wild and for extreme snowboarding adventurers. If you’re in Marrakech, it would be closer to go to Oukaimeden, and if you’re in Fez, go to Michlifen. To snowboard in Oukaimeden and Michlifen, you only need to book a tour at your hotel or online, and your transport, pass, gear, and guide will be sorted.
You can make your own way to Oukaimeden and Michlifen, but you’ll need your own transport and organize a pass at your hotel or the Michlifen resort. You’ll also need to pay for the lift to reach the top of the slope. Some people will be more sensitive to the altitude of these two beginner resorts than others, so if you begin to feel ill, notify your guide immediately and make your way down the mountain.
As you enter the resorts, do not book tours or rent snowboarding/ski equipment from self-proclaimed guides. They don’t have any official status and are not governed by Morocco’s snowboarding association, which means it’s unsafe as they probably don’t even have any experience. The same goes for booking trips at souks
Snowboarding in Jebel Toubkal
Jebel Toubkal is a mission that will satisfy the adventurer within you, but this is only for highly experienced snowboarders that are able to hike with their gear. You’ll need to hire a guide in Marrakech or find one in Imlil.
You’ll need to stop in Imlil and find a local to stay with overnight after giving them money for their kindness, as there aren’t hotels in this Berber village. In the morning, you’ll need to hire a mule or porter or hike up to Toubkal Refuge, where you can camp – but it is freezing, and it would be better to stay with the same local again after your day out. Please do not hike to the refuge without a guide that knows the landscape!
You can hike higher up from the Toubkal Refuge to find a slope that reaches back to the camp. There is also an area behind the refuge where you can snowboard. Remember that you’re at a very high altitude and need to take it slow, drink plenty of water, and retreat if you have any signs of altitude sickness.
3. When To Go
Snowboarding and skiing in Morocco require colder weather, so the snow is good enough to do so. The best snowfall happens in February in late January. But will start in December and until early February. Further than that, there won’t be snow, or it will be too sludgy to snowboard.
Your best time to snowboard is in the early morning when the snow is freshly fallen and fewer people are in the way. Melted snow is difficult to snowboard across because it would be slippery, which is no fun for beginners.
4. What To Bring With
Snowboarding through a travel agency will be easy peasy, but you’ll need a few things. Firstly, food won’t be included, so you’ll need to bring some or pay to eat at the local restaurants. You’ll also need drinking water, as hydration is highly important at high altitudes.
It is common to tip your guides, so bring some cash along to follow Moroccan practice. You might also stop at local Berber markets and want something that requires cash. In summary, take some cash with you!
It may sound funny, but sunblock is also necessary as snow reflects sunlight and can cause unwanted sunburn. It is very cold up in the Atlas mountains, too, so you’ll want to layer up and put on an extra pair of socks.
For Morocco snowboarding, you require a ski pass, so if you’re not using a tour company or they don’t include one in the package, you’ll have to organize one. If you want to use the ski lift, you’ll also need a pass, so ensure your tour package includes it if you don’t want to pay extra.
If you’re the extremist that is going to snowboard Jebel Toubkal, you’ll need a guide with you, cash to pay a local to give you accommodation, transport mule, food, and any other things you might need. You also need proper hiking gear, especially crampons so you don’t slip while climbing the hefty altitude.
5. Altitude Sickness
As mentioned earlier, these snowboarding locations are extremely high above sea level, and getting to these heights can cause altitude sickness. Typically, you’ll only get sick at 8200 feet, so you should be okay, but it can also happen at 5000 to 7000 feet. People with pre-existing problems like asthma or diabetes are more susceptible, but the chances aren’t likely.
The signs that your body isn’t adapting to the altitude are:
- Unusual tiredness
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
The High Atlas mountains are unexpectantly great for Morocco snowboarding. The locations include Oukaimeden, Michlifen, and Jebel Toubkal. Oukaimeden and Michlifen are beginner-friendly, while Jebel Toubkal is for a well-seasoned snowboarder.
The best time to snowboard is from December to Early February. You’ll want to go early in the morning to avoid crowds and board in fresh snow. Bring along some food, water, and cash. The High Atlas Mountains aren’t named that nothing, so be wary of altitude sickness, and most importantly, have fun!
FAQs on Snowboarding in Morocco
What is the best time to go snowboarding in Morocco?
The best time for snowboarding in Morocco is during the winter months, typically from December to March. During this period, the snowfall is more consistent, and the ski resorts, like Oukaimeden, are fully operational with optimal snow conditions.
Are there any snowboarding lessons available for beginners?
Yes, many ski resorts in Morocco, including Oukaimeden, offer snowboarding lessons for beginners. Ski schools at the resorts have experienced instructors who can guide and teach first-timers the basic techniques and safety measures required for an enjoyable snowboarding experience.
What type of snowboarding gear can I rent at ?
At Moroccan ski resorts like Oukaimeden, you can rent a variety of snowboarding gear, including snowboards, boots, helmets, and protective gear. Rental shops are available on-site, ensuring that visitors have access to high-quality equipment for their snowboarding adventure.
Can I go snowboarding in Morocco if I have never done it before?
Absolutely! Moroccan ski resorts, such as Oukaimeden, cater to snowboarders of all skill levels, from beginners to advanced riders. The slopes are classified according to difficulty, allowing first-time snowboarders to choose the most suitable slope for their skill level. In addition, ski schools offer lessons and guidance to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for beginners.
What other activities can I enjoy while snowboarding in Morocco?
Aside from snowboarding, visitors to Moroccan ski resorts can enjoy a variety of other activities, such as skiing, snowshoeing, and guided ski tours. These tours provide an opportunity to explore the breathtaking scenery of the High Atlas Mountains and visit nearby Berber villages, offering a unique blend of adventure, culture, and natural beauty.
Is it safe to go snowboarding in Morocco?
Yes, snowboarding in Morocco is generally safe, as long as you follow the necessary precautions and guidelines. Ski resorts like Oukaimeden have well-maintained slopes and facilities, as well as trained staff and instructors to ensure the safety and well-being of their visitors. It is always advisable to wear appropriate protective gear, follow the advice of instructors, and choose slopes that match your skill level to ensure a safe and enjoyable snowboarding experience.