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World’s weirdest ski resorts

Skiing and snowboarding in strange, unusual and exotic locations, from North Korea to Kosovo

Skiing? In North Korea? Yup. With the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, Skyscanner reveals 11 places you’d be surprised to know had ski resorts, from Cyprus to Sicily, Kosovo to Kashmir. So when you’re bored of the French Alps or Canadian Rockies, get adventurous and sample the snow in places better known for sun, sand (or sandbags!) than they are for ski resorts.

1. Maski Pass, North Korea

Opening in 2013, the Maski Pass Ski Resort in North Korea is the first major ski area in the country. It’s no Whistler, and North Korea doesn’t get the heavenly powder snow of its nearby neighbour Japan, but it does offer nine runs (the longest is an admirable 5km) served by a two-man chairlift, a 120-room hotel with bars and restaurants, and surprisingly for North Korea, an internet connection. NK travel experts, Koryo Tours, offer trips there and although the skiing itself is unlikely to excite hardened snow-lovers, a Maski Pass ski pass is definitely one that adventure skiers will want in their collection. (Read more: Travel and Life in North Korea: 9 secrets of the Hermit Kingdom). Watch video footage of Maski Pass below:

2. Gulmarg, Kashmir

The Himalayan ski resort of Gulmarg, in Indian-administered Kashmir, has become somewhat of a pilgrimage for the adventurous ski set. If the idea of skiing amongst monkeys and machine guns doesn’t appeal, then Kashmir is best avoided; but if it’s adventure you’re after, Gulmarg offers perhaps the finest lift-accessed powder slopes in the world. The Kashmiri curries aren’t bad either. See the amazing Kashmiri snow below! Find flights to Delhi

3. Mzaar, Lebanon

Of the six ski resorts in Lebanon, it’s Mzaar which is the most developed. With 18 lifts and a maximum altitude of 2465m, it’s popular with the cool Beirut crowd who come to ski, party and ‘be seen’ at weekends. But as the video below shows, it’s easy to find empty slopes too! Find flights to Beirut

4. Mount Etna, Sicily

This Italian island in the Mediterranean normally brings to mind sun and sand but you can also ski atop volcanic Mount Etna at one of two ski centres (Rifugio Sapienza and Piano Provenzana). However, skiers better be careful here; when Mount Etna blows her top you don’t want to be anywhere nearby. In previous eruptions the lift infrastructure has been damaged by lava flows so check the volcano forecast before donning your ski boots! Get flights to Palermo

5. Mount Hermon, Israel

On top of sacred Mount Hermon you’ll find Israel’s only ski area. With nearly 28 miles of ski runs, the terrain is ample for intermediates, though apparently lower runs can get clogged with beginner Israelis skiing in jeans. See Israeli snow in action below! Get flights to Tel Aviv

6. Mount Olympus, Cyprus

Another Mediterranean Island where you can ski on the mountain and swim in the sea on the same day, Cyprus has a ski resort as well as its famous beaches. Mount Olympus provides the beautiful setting for skiing here in the Troodos Mountains and though the season is shorter than on the European mainland, the views from the top are well worth the trip. See the Cypriot powder in the vid below! Get flights to Paphos

7. Ben Lomond, Tasmania

There are several resorts on the Australian mainland, but little Tassie also offers all the facilities needed for a great ski trip. Ben Lomond is the best resort on the island and boasts a handful of drag lifts as well as accommodation and eateries. The terrain is not unlike Scotland’s ski areas, but of course, being in the southern hemisphere, Tasmania’s ski season runs from July to September. Get flights to Australia

8. Dizin, Iran

Iran may bring to mind hot weather and accusations of being an Axis of Evil, but the country has huge mountains rising to over 5000m and offers some excellent skiing. There are two main resorts, Dizin and Shemshak, both of which are just two hours from Tehran. Due to strict Islamic laws, some resorts have separate ski lifts for men and women. As the video below shows, Iran can be a powder haven! Get flights to Tehran

9. Yongpyong, South Korea

North Korea was late to the ski party, but for neighbouring South Korea, the Asian ski boom that began in Japan in the ‘80s arrived in South Korea soon after. The country has 12 ski resorts but although winters in the country are very cold, snow is not particularly heavy, so you’re unlikely to get many powder days on a ski trip here. Get flights to Seoul

10. Brezovica, Kosovo

This tiny but proud country is said to have one of the best ski areas in the Balkans: Brezovica. They even have a Facebook page with over 65,000 fans (in comparison, Val D’isere in France, one of the most popular ski resorts in Europe, only has 32,000 fans) so they must be doing something right! Check out the powder in the video below, then book your flights to Pristina!

11. Tiffindell, South Africa

Skiing? In South Africa? Yup. Tiffindell is the country’s only ski resort and plays host to the South African ski and snowboarding championships each year. Established in 1993, the resort is built on Ben Macdhui and has a relatively high elevation of 2810m. Compared to skiing in Europe, things here are basic, but if you’re heading to the area in winter (the Northern Hemisphere’s summer), the chance to say “I’ve skied South Africa” is just too good to miss. Get flights to South Africa

Know any other weird ski areas around the world? Let us know in the comments below!

Kashmir picture ©