Ok, so your friend spent a ski season in whistler, or your cousin goes to the Swiss alps every year. I’m sure it was great, and I’m sure you were joined by tens of thousands of other skiers in the process, if you’re feeling the urge to get off the beaten track a little – check out these 9 obscure ski destinations for a whole new ski experience:
Lebanon: A double whammy here – first off, yes Lebanon does have a great ski resorts and amazing luxury ski holidays. Secondly, and perhaps more enticingly for our male readers, each year, at the Middle East’s largest ski resort Faraya, they run annual ski season lingerie shows! Where middle eastern hotties parade up and down a very chilly catwalk, not that’s value for money. The Lebanese ski season runs from December to April.
Afghanistan: Yes, Afghanistan. You may have heard of Bamiyan before, the sight of 2 huge Budhha statues carved into the cliff face infamously blown up by the Taliban in 2001, well it’s much safer now and since 2010 the slopes have opened to tourists. Skiing in Afghanistan, don’t expect any all inclusive holidays here, no lifts or paroles at all. Accommodation is primitive and access to the area is via flight to Kabul and an 8 hour bus, but what a destination to ski at! Well worth the effort, and it’s certainly gone straight on my bucket list. You can be one of the 730 foreigners who made this trek last year!
Lesotho: Prounced Less-oot-too, the tiny landlocked African country must be the most obscure of all global skiing areas. From June to September each year with a bit of luck and some decent snow fall you can join the other 3000 people who make this crazy journey. I wouldn’t go as far to say that there is an option for a luxury ski holiday here, but if you’re willing to rough it you’ll get a real treat! Tell your mates you went skiing in southern Africa during the summer and they’re more likely to disbelieve you than be amazed, but you know it’s true, that’s enough 😛
India: It’s not all chapattis and 40 degree heat in this fascinating country. Head into the contested area of Kashmir to Gulmarg and you’ll see some of the world’s highest peaks (you are in the Himalayas after all!). The highest, and most testing slopes, are serviced by a single gondola, picking people up at the already high attitude of almost 9, 000 feet and dropping them around 13, 000+ feet – this is to be attempted by only the most skilled skiers and snowboarders, you’ll be on your own up there.
Bolivia: We’re facing a race against time here guys, the Chacaltaya glacier is melting exponentially and the snow is running out! However, Bolivia’s only sky resort, at 5000m, plays host to the highest ski slope in the world, bragging rights in the bag for sure. Summer skiing has gone for good now, so plan your visit from November to March
U.A.E: You can’t fault Dubai for lack of ambition, a huge ski centre in the middle of the desert is quite an impressive feat indeed! Ski-Dubai offers year round skiing in the Middle East, complete with an area to build snowmen and have a snow fight, quite remarkable
Morocco: Skiing in Africa is still a strange concept to many but the ski market in Morocci is thriving. Home to the highest luxury ski resort in Africa (3000m up in the Atlas mountains) it comes complete with lifts, hotels and all the plush extras you’d expect from any luxury ski holiday at a French or Swiss outfit. Morocco really is home to best of Africa’s luxury ski holidays, with ski trips easily arranged from destinations like Agadir in the foothills of the Atlas mountains.
Hawaii: Skiing in Hawaii, on a volcano – sounds pretty cool doesn’t it? Well it is! The peak of the mountain is literally the best place in the world to see the stars, hence it being home to the Mauna Kea Observatory, the largest astronomical observatory in the world, operated by 11 countries. However, there are no lifts, no ski patrol and no official maps but every time the snow falls, expert skiers flock to this place.
Israel: The Mount Hermon ranges straddles Syria, Lebanon and Israel so as well as being an obscure destination, it’s probably also one of the most politically unstable. On your way to the Hermon Ski Resort you drive passed cordoned-off mine fields, from the resort you can see the Israeli Defense Force’s observation post, complete with their special Alpine unit. Certainly one of the more politically charged skiing areas you’re ever likely to visit :S
These destinations should get your heart racing at a few extra beats per minute. You’ll certainly have a few interesting stories to tell after a flight to Kabul or Kashmir, and if after a week or so slumming it you may well feel the need to check out some all inclusive holidays, but that’s ok – you’ll have definitely earned it! Happy travels!
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