Forget the Alps. We round up the more unusual places to ski

Hitting the slopes this winter? Then have you considered the pistes of Algeria, Pakistan or Iran? Didn't think so. But perhaps you should - some of the best skiing can be found in the unlikeliest of places.

1) Masikryong, North Korea
North Korea’s first luxury ski resort has had its fair share of hurdles to overcome, namely the absence of snow, the crushing poverty of its citizens and restrictions on foreign tourists. But putting these major issues to one side, the resort grants brave visitors the unique opportunity to enjoy 110km (70 miles) of deserted piste – of course with giant screens broadcasting government propaganda from every direction.

The North Korean resort is struggling to pull in the numbersThe North Korean resort is struggling to pull in the numbers
Creative Commons / Uri Tours

2) Mauna Kea, Hawaii
That's right, you can ski in Hawaii. Mauna Kea – which translates as 'white mountain' – may not have lifts, trail maps or any ski resort facilities, but at nearly 4,270m (14,000ft) it does occasionally get sizeable snowfalls between December and February making it ideal for hours of backcountry skiing. And where else can you have après-ski drinks on the beach? Life can't get any better than this.

Après-ski drinks on the beach? Only in HawaiiAprès-ski drinks on the beach? Only in Hawaii

3) Bamiyan, Afghanistan
With no skis, lifts or marked runs, it’s probably best you don’t tell your mum you’re going skiing in Bamiyan. Being Afghanistan, the Foreign Office might try to dissuade you as well. But with adventurous tours on offer, and the annual Afghan Ski Challenge enticing the competitive explorer, more people are finding the riches of the Afghani slopes.

A boy tackles the Bamiyan slopes in AfghanistanA boy tackles the Bamiyan slopes in Afghanistan
Creative Commons / Afghanistan Matters

4) Malam Jabba, Pakistan
Blown up by the Taliban in 2006, Pakistan’s Malam Jabba ski resort reopened in 2011 – and now it’s better than ever. Take that fundamentalism. Perched some 2,804m (9,200ft) up in the Karakoram mountain range, Malam Jabba is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and plans are afoot for a new hotel, cable car and piste. And all within 314km (195 miles) of Islamabad.

Malam Jabba has reopened after being blown up by the TalibanMalam Jabba has reopened after being blown up by the Taliban
Creative Commons / Hassan Mohiudin

5) Dizin, Iran
While relations between Iran and the West begin to thaw, the same can’t be said for Iran’s ski slopes, which have seen record snowfall in recent years. That’s great news for skiers planning a trip to Dizin, which, at 2,650m (8,694ft), is the largest and most developed ski resort in Iran. Ideal for adventurous travellers, it’s only two hours’ drive from the capital, Tehran.

Fresh powder and retro ski lifts at Iran's premier resort, DizinFresh powder and retro lifts at Iran's premier ski resort, Dizin
Creative Commons / MartijnMunneke

6) Chrea, Algeria
In its 1980s heyday, this resort in the Djurdjura Mountains attracted skiers from across Algeria. But when the Armed Islamic Group commandeered the slopes in 1992, that golden era came to a crashing end. Happily, the militants left in 2002 and since then skiers have tentatively returned to the pistes, which meander through gorgeous Alpine forests few would associate with Algeria.

An Alpine vista view people expect to see in AlgeriaAn Alpine vista few people expect to see in Algeria
Creative Commons / magnanime77

7) Tiffindell, South Africa
In South Africa, it’s feasible to go on safari and ski all in one day. That’s thanks to Tiffindell, the country’s only ski resort, which, more importantly, is also home to South Africa’s highest boozer. Guaranteeing 100 days of snow annually, Tiffindel nestles some 2,720m (8,924ft) up Ben Macdui in the Eastern Cape. Après-ski comes courtesy of Ice Station 2720, the loftiest pub in South Africa.

From savanna to slopes in one day, South AfricaFrom savanna to slopes in one day, South Africa
Ingram Publishing & blende 64 / Thinkstock

8) Mt Hermon, Israel
Mt Hermon straddles one of the world's most contested borders, with Israel on one side, and Syria and Lebanon on the other. But with 14 pistes including two black runs, as well as sledding and other wintery activities available, the resort is very popular with locals and offers some great skiing for all levels. The views at the top are pretty special too – just ignore the Israeli Defence Forces' heavily patrolled observation post and blocked-off minefields.

Syria is just on the other side of the mountainSyria is just on the other side of the mountain
Creative Commons / Leon G

9) Oukaïmden, Morocco
Think Morocco and what comes to mind? Marrakech’s sultry souks? Eassaouira’s windswept beaches? Oukaïmden’s powdery pistes? Okay, probably not the latter, but despite being on the road less travelled, Oukaïmden is home to some serious slopes, which begin some 3,265m (10,711ft) up in the Atlas Mountains. The pistes are accessed via North Africa’s highest lift and, less conventionally, local donkeys.

Beyond the ramparts of Marrakech lie powdery ski slopesBeyond the ramparts of Marrakech lie powdery ski slopes
Fafou / Thinkstock

10) Mt Etna, Sicily
The thought of skiing on an active volcano that billows smoke from its central crater on a weekly basis may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for thrillseekers sampling the powder at the Mt Etna Nicolosi resort is a must. Daredevils really searching for something out of the ordinary can visit in the summer months, when the snow is replaced by solidified volcanic lava.

11) Afriski, Lesotho
Chances are you've probably never even heard of Lesotho. This tiny kingdom within the borders of South Africa is actually a great, little-known skiing spot from June to August. Located in the Maluti Mountains some 3,322m (10,900ft) above sea level, the sweeping African scenery alone makes a skiing trip there worth it. The resort is small but its remote feel and uncrowded slopes will appeal to adventure seekers. Did we mention it also has a 'bumboarding' slope?

Sweeping African scenery in LesothoEnjoy the sweeping African scenery in Lesotho
Creative Commons / DI Jones

12) Ben Lomond, Tasmania, Australia
Forget sunshine and shrimps on the sizzler, Australia’s most southern state seduces with sparkling snows, thrill-seeking schussing and scenic summit runs. As it’s the southern hemisphere, the season starts in July and skims through until September, with snow cannons on standby should snowfall stutter. As part of Ben Lomond National Park, skiing Tasmania is more postcard pretty than off-piste powder.

The slopes are not the only stars at Ben Lomond in TasmaniaThe slopes are not the only stars at Ben Lomond in Tasmania
Ben Lomond Snow Sports Facebook

13) Mzaar, Lebanon
Snow may not spring to mind when you think about the Middle East, but Lebanon actually has some wonderful ski resorts, most notably Mzaar. At the powder-perfect heights of 2,465m (8,087ft), it was the vision of Sheikh Salim that turned Mzaar into a modern mountainside mecca. With over 80km (50 miles) of groomed goodness to get through, the Alps will have to wait another season.

The views from Lebanon's Mzaar stretch over BeirutThe views from Lebanon's Mzaar stretch over Beirut
Creative Commons / rabiem22

14) Troodos, Cyprus
Possibly your only opportunity to slide down Aphrodite and be dragged along by Zeus, the skiing at Troodos in Cyprus certainly runs with the mythology theme. In what is Europe’s most southerly ski resort, lifts and trails across Mt Olympus are named after Greek gods (think: Hermes and Hera), even if in reality, the snow reliability is a little less pious.

The runs of Mount Olympus in Cyprus are named after Greek godsThe runs of Mount Olympus in Cyprus are named after Greek gods

15) Gulmarg, India
If the idea of skiing amongst monkeys and machine guns doesn’t appeal, then Gulmarg is not for you. But if it’s adventure you’re after, this resort in Indian-administered Kashmir boasts some of the finest powder skiing in the world. The ungroomed Himalayan slopes do not have the same polish and infrastructure as most well-known resorts, but the wild, backcountry, off-piste skiing more than makes up for it. Best for experienced, advanced skiers and boarders.

Gulmarg offers some of the best adventure skiing on untouched slopesAdventure skiing on India's untouched slopes
Creative Commons / Peter

16) Jahorina, Bosnia and Herzegovina
It’s 30 years since Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympics, but the once preened pistes of Jahorina were destroyed during the Bosnian War of the 1990s. Now rebuilt, and with plush new six-packs whirling snow lovers to 12,000km (7,456 miles) of slopes, it’s open for business again. Stay on the marked runs though as mine clearing is still taking place off-piste.

30 years since the Sarajevo Winter Olympics, Jahorina is back in businessJahorina is back in business after the horrors of the Bosnian War
Creative Commons / Ratko Bozovic

17) Mt Olympus, Greece
Greece’s highest peak is known to most as the home of the Twelve Olympian Gods and the throne of Zeus himself, but Mt Olympus’s newest claim to fame is as the country’s most remote ski resort. Those intent on breaking new ground should trek to the Vrisopoules ski area (1,820m/5,970ft), operated by the Greek military and open to the public each Sunday during winter. For a more leisurely ski session with a similar sense of mythology, try the larger, more mainstream resort located on sacred Mt Parnassos.

In mythology, Olympus is the throne of ZeusIn mythology, Olympus is the throne of Zeus
cenkertekin / Thinkstock

18) Cerro Castor, Argentina
Cerro Castor, in the city of Ushuaia, is a long-term favourite of Argentine skiers and boasts the claim to fame of being the most southerly ski resort in the world. The year-round icy conditions mean the resort benefits from the longest ski season in South America, and it’s possible to ski at just 200m (660ft) above sea level.

Cerro Castor is the most southerly ski resort in the worldCerro Castor is the most southerly ski resort in the world
Creative Commons / Ana Elise Ferrari

19) Union Glacier, Antarctica
There’s no ski resort in the world that can hold a candle to Union Glacier. Forget lifts, lines and lanes, this is authentic ski-touring, offering skiers the chance to traverse miles of rugged, isolated, snow-capped terrain. Visitors sleep in specialised tents during the evenings and spend days exploring the surroundings with guides. Don't get too far ahead of yourself however, this skiing paradise comes at a cost: $27,500 (£17,300) to be precise. 

Antarctica could be the ultimate skiing destinationAntarctica could be the ultimate skiing destination
Adventure Network International

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