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An Instagram Tour of Morocco's Ski Slopes

Think Morocco is all desert? Think again.

AFAR's Jan/Feb 2016 issue hit stands today with a beautiful photo feature about snowsurfing in Japan (yes, Japan!) shot by photographer Kari Medig (@kari_medig). But last week we found that we were too excited to wait, so we invited @kari_medig to take over @afarmedia's Instagram feed to share some stunning images of another surprising ski location: Morocco, from the slopes of Oukaïmeden to the sands of the Sahara

You might not expect a big ski culture in Morocco, but the old rental skis and boots that @kari_medig found along the road to Oukaïmeden are proof enough that there is plenty of powder to be had high in the Atlas Mountains.

The stark division between the slopes with snow and those without snow is due to the latitude: north facing slopes hold plenty of snow, while the south facing slopes are exposed to the sun and therefore lie empty.

Forget the ski lift; on the lower slopes of Oukaïmeden ski hill, @kari_medig hitched a ride with this local Berber villager on his ornately decorated horse.

This is the top of the ski lift at Oukaïmeden, where photographer @kari_medig explored the Moroccan ski slopes. While many of the tourists that he met were new to skiing, these two young Berber locals were ready to enjoy a challenge and the late season powder.

The coolest thing about skiing in Morocco? It's not all about snow. In Merzouga, at the eastern edge of the country, @kari_medig joined some locals in search of the best Saharan sand dunes to ski.

From the Sahara to the snow:

even after a recent storm, the fresh dusting of powder at Oukaïmeden has a red tint from the dust of the nearby sand dunes. (You can even see a reddish tint on the snow in the lower right corner!)

The vast majority of the skis for rent at Oukaïmeden are throwbacks from bygone ski eras in North America and Europe. Locals, like this guy, will carry their skis everyday from their homes to the lift to rent to tourists.

Moroccan tourists from Casablanca and Rabat often come to Oukaïmeden to learn how to ski and for many, it's their first time seeing snow. @kari_medig caught these young men during their first ski lesson.

An 80's era Peugeot taxi, a remnant of France's colonial connection with Morocco, whisks tourists from Marrakech to the ski resort at Oukaïmeden in the Atlas Mountains. 
No gear? No problem. @kari_medig found plenty of rental spots for vintage ski gear along on the road to Oukaïmeden as well as at the base of the ski lift.

You can have the best of both world's if you're traveling through Morocco in the winter—without giving up your winter ski dreams. Don't forget to pick up the new issue of AFAR, out today, for more of Kari Medig's powder day photos.

>>Next: What to Do in a Ski Town If You Don't Ski