As I mentioned in my previous post on my stay in Marrakesh, my main reason going there was for a ski holiday. Not many people consider Marrakesh as a ski destination and even I didn’t even know they had slopes until a friend pitched the idea. Preparing for the trip was a bit of a pain since there was very very little information online on skiing in Marrakesh. I couldn’t even find a website that told me if it had snowed in the mountains or if the slopes were even open. All I knew is that the ski slopes were around an hour and a half drive from the main city and located in an area called Oukaimeden. Originally I wanted to take my own snowboard and boots with me since I wasn’t sure I could rent gear over there but, since I didn’t even know if the slopes were open, I decided not to go through the hassle and instead just took my snowboarding clothes with me.
Once my friends and me were in Marrakesh we asked around if there was snow in Oukaimeden and to our relief turns out there was. We rented a car with a driver and headed out to the slopes the following day. We ended up leaving the medina at around 9:30AM and arrived to the slopes before noon. The road to the top of the mountain was small and not very eventful except for this one incident involving a camel. Some people have camels on the side of the road for tourists to sit on and take photos and one went wild and ran into the middle of the road just as my driver was speeding to overtake another car on the road. Luckily we missed the camel which continued running down the run barely missing other cars.
Once we arrived to the slopes things got a bit intense. Two of my friends had never snowboarded before and needed an instructor. We spotted some guys hanging around on the side of the road and when they noticed we were tourists they all attacked our car. Turns out they were all instructors / guides and started arguing amongst each other on who saw us first and who should get us. Too dramatic but understandable since it’s a very poor country and everyone is trying to make a living. After having our driver translate for us we found out that they charge 100dhms an hour to take care of us either by instructing or just helping us get around. 100dhms is just KD3 so we each took a guide and headed towards the best equipment rental store to get our gear.
Their best equipment rental store was ghetto, like if your local bakala decided to rent out 90s ski gear (including neon colored one piece ski suits). But, compared to the alternative (people renting boots and equipment on the side of the road) this place seemed like a great find. Renting boots and a snowboard cost us 250dhms (KD7.7) each for the day, which I think was expensive compared to everything else. I think we could have gotten them even cheaper if we had asked for the gear for half a day or at least haggled. Once we got our stuff we headed to the first slope. A day ski pass to access the slopes is just 50dhms (KD1.5) which is the cheapest I’ve paid anywhere… ever. The bottom of the slopes was pretty packed but once you get the lift and head to the top its empty. That’s because many people just play with the snow at the bottom of the slopes or ride sleds. There aren’t many people who ski and there weren’t any other tourists from what I could tell.
One thing I found interesting is there were people walking around the slopes selling coffee and traditional Moroccan sweets. There was even a stand where you could pick up a bowl of steaming hot snails (a delicacy over there) if you wanted to. It’s actually pretty smart especially if you’re looking for a bit of an energy boost.
After spending sometime at the first slope we then decided to tackle their largest and steepest slope but that was a bit of a distance away. Our guides gave us three options of getting there:
1) Drive there by car
3) Take a donkey ride
Obviously we opted for the donkey ride which was a ton of fun and something again I hadn’t experienced in any other ski slope in the world.
Their highest slope was insanely cool and according to my guide 3000m high. The ride to the top was fairly long, maybe around 20 minutes and the closer we got to the summit the worst the visibility got. It was extremely foggy with a visibility of around 10m or so. Once we got off the lift at the top I couldn’t tell where the slope started and just figured I’d accidently end up flying off a cliff on my way down. But my guide knew the route by heart, which was great since we were going to snowboard down the slope blindly. It had snowed all night and there was a blizzard while we were at the top so the snow was fantastically deep and powdery.
Getting a guide was the smartest thing I did since I really couldn’t see shit the first half of the route down. I kept yelling at him that I couldn’t see and he just kept yelling back that if I see rocks to start turning the other way. Simple obvious advice but it worked.
Anyway I got to the bottom of the slope in one piece even though I did face plant on more than one occasion. Would I recommend skiing in Marrakesh? Hell yes I would, it’s a wonderful experience and they have enough strange characteristics to make the experience unique to them. It’s also a very affordable ski experience, one of the cheapest I’m aware of. Since it’s difficult to find information online what I would recommend to do if you’re interested in skiing in Marrakesh is to call a hotel there and ask them if the slopes are open. I would also do a search for #oukaimeden on instagram since I found a few photos of people on the slopes that way. If anyone has any questions let me know.