You can ski on real snow in southern Spain

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Now, I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. The weather here in southern Spain is not all sun, sun and yet more sun. It can get really cold too.

Where Lisa ad I live, that’s a natural feature of our desert-like climate where clear sunny days are followed by clear starry cold nights.

But even daytime temperatures are much lower in some areas. In under a three-hour drive from leaving home, on a warm and sunny day, we can reach an area where winter clothing is the usual wear in autumn/fall, winter and spring. That, along with skis and other necessary equipment for real snow; nothing artificial here.

Yes, southern Spain’s region of Andalucía, includes the country’s Sierra Nevada mountain range that overlaps the border of the provinces of Granada and Almeria, where we live.

The mountains include Mulhacén which, at 3,478 metres/11,411 feet above sea level, is the highest point of continental Spain. In comparison, that is more than three times the height of Snowdon in Wales and 2½ times that of Scotland’s Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest point.

In Spanish, Sierra Nevada means ‘snowy range’ and the area is a popular tourist destination. It is one of Europe’s most southerly ski resorts made possible by high mountain peaks in an area close to the Mediterranean Sea. Just below the mountains is the city of Granada and, not far away, those of Almería and Málaga.

In 1986, Sierra Nevada was named by UNESCO as a Bioshere Reserve, and in 1999, a large area of it was declared a Spanish National Park, owing to the region’s biodiversity and its broad range of mostly floral wildlife and its rich and varied natural landscapes.

Sierra Nevada National Park occupies 86,000 hectares/212,500 acres which, together with another 86,000 hectares of the surrounding Natural Park, make up an area of protected land that measures over 170,000 hectares. Both the ski resort and the Sierra Nevada Astronomic Observatory (at 2,800 metres/9,200 feet) are inside the national park.

ski2ski3The ski resort is open from November until May and has 110km/68 miles of pistes over 1,200 vertical metres/4,000 feet. It is renowned as being a place where you can ski in the morning and enjoy a drink as you sunbathe on the Mediterranean coast in the afternoon. Some are even brave enough to ski in bikinis on the last day of the season in May, known as la bajada en bikini, which is said to be an unmissable day of champagne and near nudity. Anyone for a day’s skiing in May?