Think skiing and you probably think of Italy, France and Austria. But there’s a whole world of skiing out there in places you just wouldn’t associate with snowy mountain adventure at all.
And while many of the most obscure ski areas don’t boast the high-class facilities of some of Europe’s top Alpine ski resorts – or, in some cases, any facilities at all – if you’re prepared to rough it, and perhaps climb up a mountain instead of using a ski-lift, there’s some fantastic skiing to be had in the most unlikely of places.
Here are 8 of the weirdest:
1. Malam Jabba, Pakistan
Pakistan’s only ski resort, in the stunning Swat Valley perched 9,200ft up the Karakorum mountain range, was destroyed by the Taliban, but is now partially reconstructed. Two 800m ski runs have been reopened, with chairlifts, and while the resort hotels are still under construction, there is other hotel accommodation in the area.
2. Faqra, Lebanon
This ski resort is less than an hour from the Lebanese capital of Beirut. There are four ski lifts and 7km of pistes between the elevations of 1,735 and 1,975m, and slopes are ideal for intermediate skiers, with 4km of red runs.
3. Dizin, Iran
Dizin is in Iran’s Alborz mountain range, about 70km from Tehran. It’s Iran’s biggest ski resort, and is one of the 40 highest ski resorts in the world, with a lift that climbs 3,600m.
The ski season is longer than the European season, stretching from mid-November to May, and the resort offers a variety of ski lifts to its powder snow slopes, including chair lifts and gondolas, plus hotels, cottages, restaurants, villas and private apartments.
4. Bamyan, Afghanistan
The Bamyan ski resort is 100 miles west of Kabul, in the Hindu Kush where there are peaks up to 5,000m.
There are few foreign visitors, and no ski lift, so you have to be prepared to hike up a mountain for a two-minute ski down through stunning scenery. The Afghan Ski Challenge ski race is held at the resort, and potential competitors should note that in the rules for the race it states ‘No weapons allowed’.
5. Gulmarg, Kashmir, India
A mecca for off-piste skiers, Gulmarg has just one gondola which climbs to around 4,000m, 200m below the summit of Mt Apharwat. Some of the bowls off the summit have straight 1,200m vertical descents.
And the area boasts the heftiest powder snowfalls in the Himalayas.
6. Ski Dubai, Dubai
If you’ve ever fancied combining skiing with high-class shopping, Ski Dubai is where it’s at.
The complex, in the impressive Mall of the Emirates, offers 3,000 sq m of man-made slopes in the desert to ski, snowboard or toboggan.
7. Afri-Ski, Lesotho
It’s actually possible to ski in sub-Saharan Africa at Lesotho's Afri-Ski. It has two pistes with man-made snow in the Maluti Mountain range, 3,222m above sea level.
While the resort, which has accommodation ranging from backpacker-style hostels to luxury cabins, doesn’t offer the most thrilling skiing in the world, the stunning African scenery more than makes up for it.
8. Alps Ski Resort, South Korea
Believe it or not, there’s a booming ski scene in South Korea, and the country is hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics. If you want to sample Korean skiing, try the Alps Ski Resort, which is perched in a picturesque setting on the summit of the Jinburyeong plateau in Gangwon province.
The resort offers 9.4km of skiing on eight runs for skiers of all abilities, and there are five lifts to elevations of 200m and 450 m.