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From North Korea to sunny South Africa via Israel: The world’s most unusual ski resorts revealed

If you want to take your ski holiday completely off-piste, then forget the Rockies, Sierra Nevada mountains or the Alps – try the Middle East.

Or perhaps North Korea.

Here we reveal some of the most unlikely locations for ski resorts.

North Korea 

North Korea’s Masikryong ski resort opened in 2014 to compete with Pyeongchang in South Korea

Pictured is the nation’s Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un, riding ski-less on a ski lift. The resort is said to have been largely deserted since opening 

North Korea’s Masikryong ski resort, which opened in 2014, was the brainchild of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un and is designed to rival Pyeongchang in South Korea.

The dictator is said to have been inspired by a trip to the Swiss Alps.

The resort is located on 4,461ft-high (1,360m) Mount Taehwa, about a three-hour drive from Pyongyang, and offers 70 miles of slopes. 

Despite claims it has 70,000 visitors a year, many of the images that have emerged of the resort depict empty slopes. 


The season in Perisher, New South Wales, this year lasted an astonishing 136 days

The white stuff: Thredbo – a popular ski resort in New South Wales 

Skiing and Australia may seem at first like mutually exclusive concepts to anyone living outside Australia – but the country actually has several well-developed ski resorts.

There’s Perisher in New South Wales, for starters, which this year had a phenomenal season, with snow depths of up to seven feet. The season was the longest in living memory at 136 days, from Friday 31 May to Sunday 13 October.

Other Australian skiing and snowboarding options include Thredbo, also in New South Wales, and Ben Lomond and Mount Mawson in Tasmania.  


 Mount Parnassos, pictured, is home to a big ski resort with 23 runs

Greece is rightly one of the ultimate destinations for a beach holiday. 

But it caters for skiers too. 

Behold Mount Parnassos. At 8,061ft it’s one of Greece’s highest mountains and is home to a rather large ski resort with 23 runs.

You’ll find it towering over the scenery about 120 miles north-west of Athens. 

It’s also possible to ski on the legendary 9,570ft-tall Mount Olympus, home of the gods.   

Mzaar, Lebanon

Mzaar in Lebanon was the vision of Sheikh Salim and is located just an hour from the capital, Beirut

Lebanon actually has six ski resorts, in defiance of the Middle East’s generally scorching temperatures.

Mzaar, located just an hour from Beirut, is the biggest and was the vision of Sheikh Salim.

It’s got natural snow, 100km (62 miles) of terrain and the longest zipline in the Middle East. 

Mauna Kea, Hawaii 

Mauna Kea in Hawaii is only for the most advanced skier or snowboarder as there is no resort, a total absence of lifts and the slopes are steep 

The area is also one of the top spots in the world for astronomy – and sacred to natives

Mauna Kea, meaning ‘White Mountain’, at 13,802ft, is the highest point in Hawaii. And measured from its undersea base of -19,000ft to the summit, it’s actually higher than Everest.

Skiing and snowboarding on this volcanic behemoth are possible, but it tends to attract only advance practitioners as there are no lifts and the slopes are steep.

And apres fans aren’t catered for – there is no resort, so no bars. 

Access to the slopes is via a road that was built to service the world-class astronomy observatories at the summit.

Mauna Kea is sacred to a lot of Hawaiians so there has been a backlash against skiers and boarders using it.  

Mount Hermon, Israel  

Mount Hermon, pictured, straddles the borders of Israel, Syria and Lebanon

This resort, which stretches to a height of 6,690ft, is in a somewhat hair-raising location as it straddles Israel on the one side and Syria and Lebanon on the other.

Occasionally missile attacks force it to close.

It first opened in December 1971 and includes a wide range of ski trails for novice, intermediate, and expert levels. It also offers additional winter family activities such as sledging and Nordic skiing.

The views from the top of 9,232ft-tall Mount Hermon are spectacular. 

South Africa

Tiffindell, pictured, is South Africa’s only ski resort, which musters a not-unimpressive 100 days of snow a year

A Boarder Cross event at Tiffindel, which is located on the south-facing slope of 9,800ft-tall Ben Macdhui 

Going on a safari and skiing in one day is a rare option – but you can do it in South Africa thanks to the resort of Tiffindell, which musters a not-unimpressive 100 days of snow a year.

It’s located on the south-facing slope of 9,800ft-tall Ben Macdhui – the highest peak in the Cape Province – and opened in 1993.

The resort’s website says: ‘In the winter months of June, July and August, the resort comes alive to the sport of skiing. Returning skiers, first-time skiers and non-skiers alike flock to Tiffindell.’ 


Bamyan Ski Club was set up in 2011 by Swiss journalist Christoph Zuercher 

Bamyan is a five-hour drive from Kabul

The province of Bamyan in Afghanistan is famed for its gaping hillside niches that once sheltered ancient Buddha statues that were blown up by the Taliban.

It’s also known for being the country’s only ski area.  

Bamyan Ski Club was set up there in 2011 by Swiss journalist Christoph Zuercher and ski instructor Henriette Bjorge signed up to get more women involved.

She told MailOnline Travel: ‘I went there with a mission to teach skiing and show people how much joy it can bring.’

The town of Bamyan, which has a population of about 100,000 people, is located around a five-hour drive from Kabul, but Bjorge says the roads aren’t safe, so it’s better to travel by air. 

You can follow Bamyan Ski Club and keep up with its progress on Facebook.


Ski Dubai features an 85m (278ft) indoor mountain – and penguins

Temperatures in Dubai are toasty all year round – but skiing is still available, thanks to a remarkable indoor resort. 

Ski Dubai, which opened in 2005, boasts more than 22,000 square metres (236,806 square feet) of ski area and an 85m (278ft) indoor mountain.

Visitors can also hurl themselves down an icy body slide, hurtle along a toboggan run, test their mettle on climbing towers and explore an ice cave.

Plus, there are penguins, which are let out once a day to interact with guests.   

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