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Both the small towns of Chrea and Blida are located approximately seventy kilometers outside of Algiers, Algeria. Not many visitors to Algeria are even aware of this magnificent part of the country. Even though Chrea is mostly known as a ski area and nature reserve, it has also played a role in the literary and revolutionary history of Algeria. Revolutionary author and essayist, Frantz Fanon, was extremely fond of Chrea. His writings and literary works were the inspiration behind anti-colonial liberation movements.
Fanon’s trips to the Chrea ski area were known to be sinister, as a FLN base was secretly located here. Although Frantz Fanon will always be remembered for his masterpiece, “Letter of Resignation to the Resident Minister”, Chrea is remembered and known as a small piece of skiing paradise in Africa.
The Chrea ski area has had a history of turbulence itself. Between the years 1992 and 2002, the slopes of Chrea lay barren and quiet. The stores and hotels that once flourished with visitors and tourists were demolished, and all the joy, excitement and family holiday fun that was synonymous with Chrea, was replaced by armed groups, military vehicles and the brutal leaders of the GIA (Armed Islamic Group). Most of the three thousand residents of Chrea fled the area. The armed groups have now been chased from Chrea, soldiers protect the area and keep a watchful eye on the ski area from towers and barracks that have been constructed on nearby hill tops.
Today the shrieks of laughter and snowball fighting children have returned to the mountain. Skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts crowd the slopes, and sleighs come past every now and then. The ski area is located inside the Chrea National Park, which is one of the smallest national parks in Algeria. But its size is not what lures people to the park, it is the majestic mountain forest landscapes, the undisturbed beauty of nature and the vast variety of wildlife that remained isolated from the public eye for ten years that draws them.
The town of Chrea and the ski area are slowly picking up the pieces, and rebuilding this spectacular holiday hide-away. Locals are beginning to return to the town, good memories and days of happiness have been reunited with the mountain, and the people of Algeria have begun to live and plan for the future again. The Chrea ski area is a wonderful escape from city life, and a rare opportunity to go skiing in Africa.
If you’re travelling here, we recommend that you take a good guidebook. We like the layout and content of the Lonely Planet book. It provides an excellent mix of travel information and practical advice. Click below to purchase. You won’t regret buying it!