So, where is the weirdest and oddest place you have been skiing then?
Up until the last week or so I would probably have said Australia, however that has more than definitely been topped following my ski down the high Street where I live following the unusually large dump last week.
But failing that I thought it quite a prudent option if i open your eyes to a few more lesser known locations around the globe where you can hit the slopes. Rest assured though that i am not talking about your Bulgaria’s and Macedonia’s. Oh no this list is even more random than that!
First up Japan.
not the weirdest place to go i grant you but very definitely a long way to go.
Some friends of mine went over there a year or two ago and said it was absolutely awesome.
Imagine a place that gets on average 14m of fresh powder a year, where there are over 700 resorts (that’s more than anywhere else in the world) and near empty hot springs to relax in post ski! Sounds pretty irresistible doesn’t it! One of the best locations in the country is Niseko which is a 2 hour flight then two hour drive from Tokyo.
The biggest problem with Japan though is the 12 hour flight from the UK to Tokyo however with the bullet train available you can get to most places pretty quickly. What’s more due to the fear of spirits the locals very rare;y ski off piste through wooded areas so you know you are going to be pretty much on your own. Plus most resorts have night skiing too.
Next up is somewhere many Brits have been to but for a summer holiday rather than looking for the white stuff. If i am honest I didn’t even think you could ski in Portugal, but I guess I am wrong! Although not a vast amount of places to head to, there is in fact only the one resort in Serra da Estrela national park. there is a decent amount of altitude (1,967m) that has 9 different runs with a total of 7.7km of pistes. Even without knowing the difficulty level it is clear it is a resort for weekends or beginners, even more so when you know that there is only one black run available.
The best snow is in February but the season runs from January to April. It gets crazy busy at the weekends but relatively empty during the week and is only 3 hours drive from Lisbon which is accessible by numerous low budget airlines.
How about one of the more weird places to go skiing then. It is the home to many a gap year and start of the trustafarian new age movement where late teens go off to find themselves. I personally associate it with a Friday evening and a few pints or some difficult but incredibly rewarding backpacking. But skiing? In India? Come on surely not!
However it is very easy to forget that many of the hippy hideaways are in the Himalayas and if they aren’t big mountains then I don’t know where else to look. Can you imagine the reaction at the dinner party when you tell everyone you are going skiing in the Himalayas and you are going to ski Everest? If you want to head to one check out Gulmarg. There is awesome off piste potential and the one “managed” piste once you step of the 3980m high gondola.
You can also get off at other points up the slope if you have a crisis of confidence. One of the benefits here is that it covers a really decent sized patch and there are comparatively low numbers of skiers allowing to plough your own furrows.
Gulmarg is an internal flight from Delhi (1.5hrs to Srinagar) and then 60km further on. there are several budget airlines in India to help you out.
Other than this resort there are quite a few other places to go to as well namely: Auli, Kumaon and Kufri.
Remember, if you do go to India to ski you will need a Visa from the Indian High Commission and also check the travel advice from the Foreign Office.
If I was to ask you where the Switzerland of the Middle East where would you say? No I wouldn’t have had a clue either.
But Lebanon is the place to go.
The countries highest resort is Cedars (it also happens to be the furthest away from Beirut too). With 5 lifts, the highest of which going up to 2870m it is absolutely beautiful and relaxed. Surrounded by the an ancient cedar forest and only a few hours from Beirut it is great for both piste and off piste options with weekend passes a snip at £18.
Although not renowned for its winter holidays there is one place to go to if you want some winter action. Tiffindell has the honour of being the sole resort in the country. Although not great for the amount of skiing, a beginners run and the main slope which is a staggering 700m… the main adventure is getting to it. The resort is on the Drakensberg mountain range, just below Lesotho and is 2720m high. Following the long haul flight to Jo’berg you then have to schlep the 800km to the resort. If you can get to Rhodes or Barkley East then grab a shuttle 4×4 up to the slopes. Given the distance, and effort, to get there it is good to know that there are only package deals available. a 3 day trip including passes, meals and kit hire is £380. Not bad I don’t think.
I hope you have a great time exploring these new ideas.
Next week I will take you through some of those other locations as well as another surprise one too.
Remember though, whatever you do you will need the right insurance for your trip and as ever check out ours.