Snow in Morocco?

Dalilah Montesino headshot
Dalilah Montesino
April 10, 2024
Ifrane National Forest covered in snow

As the foggy coastline of Rabat receded into the distance, the sloping green mountains of Ifrane, the coldest region in Morocco, came into view. As we drove further inward, the white-washed, mediterranean landscape replaced by cedar forests, I couldn’t help but to be reminded of the lush mountains that surround my college in the Northeast. Before our stop at Ben Smim, a small, nearby village where we stayed the night with a host family, we ventured into a clearing in the forest, where we prepared a homemade lunch around a campfire. Although the weather forecast predicted snow and chilly temperatures for the next few days, our first day was sunny and relatively warm. As we roasted food by the campfire and played hide-and-seek, midday sunlight filtered through the canopy of trees, casting a golden glow upon the meadow.

The next day, I was abruptly awoken by my host mom, who shook me and my roommate awake. The room had become perceptibly colder overnight, and it took every fiber of my being to get up from the warmth of my thick, cozy blankets. Although the weather forecast had predicted snow today, none had fallen in the village yet as I peered out of the windowsill; but in the distance, the peaks of the mountains were visibly white, unlike the day before.  

After visiting a museum dedicated to the conservation of cedar forests in Morocco, we embarked on our hike through the Ifrane National Forest. As we disembarked from the bus, a thick layer of fog blanketed our surroundings., rendering everything invisible. It was as if I had stepped into another world akin to the Arctic tundra. Even with my layers of clothing, the bitterly cold wind pierced through my bones and lashed my cheeks. Eventually, the fog dissipated and we made it to the forest, where we hiked to the top. The cedar trees towered over us like giants, and the forest floor was blanketed with a thin layer of freshly fallen snow that crunched beneath our feet. After what felt like an eternity, we finally made it to the top. The silence was deafening– the only sound that could be heard in the clearing was the song of the branches dancing in the wind. I felt as if I was inside a snow globe that had been shaken, and all the snowflakes had settled to the bottom.

After reaching the top of the mountain, we journeyed onwards to a nomadic Amazigh village in the valley (the Amazigh are the indigenous people of Morocco). As the village came into view, we were welcomed by the barking of dogs and the crowing of chickens. The guide led us to a tent where a flock of sheep stared at us inquisitively, as if they were questioning who these strange intruders were, and whether we were friends or foe. Huddled in cozy blankets as we awaited couscous, the traditional food eaten every Friday, we sipped warm Moroccan mint tea as we thawed from the cold. Thoroughly exhausted by the trek through the mountains, I fell asleep on the carpeted floor, bundled up next to one another in velvet blankets. After our short siesta, we returned to Ben Smim to reconvene with our host families before attending a traditional Amazigh dance performance. 

Before we returned to Rabat, we spent our final morning at a lake that also doubled as an endangered fish sanctuary. Fortunately, the weather was more forgiving to us than the day before, and the greenness of the earth was visible. Though it was still cold, as we walked along the bed of the lake, I noticed that the grass was alive with blossoming wild flowers in different shades of lilac, pale pink, and soft yellow—winter was coming to an end. 

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Dalilah Montesino headshot

Dalilah Montesino

I'm from Miami and I attend Williams College, a small liberal arts college in the middle of nowhere. In my free time, I love journaling, ranting about politics with my friends, and befriending stray cats.

2024 Spring
Home University:
Williams College
Arabic Language/Studies
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