First Sahara desert snow in 40 years captured in photographs

Karim Bouchetata proves it's all about being in the right place at the right time

 Snow on dunes near Ain Sefra, Algeria. Snow was last seen in Ain Sefra, known as 'The Gateway to the Desert,' on 18 February, 1979, when the snow storm lasted just half an hour
Snow on dunes near Ain Sefra, Algeria. Snow was last seen in Ain Sefra, known as 'The Gateway to the Desert,' on 18 February, 1979, when the snow storm lasted just half an hour

An amateur photographer has captured rare and beautiful images of the first snowfall in the Sahara desert for nearly 40 years.

Karim Bouchetata photographed the fleeting scene on Monday in the small Algerian town of Ain Sefra, which lies in the Atlas Mountains on the northern edge of the desert.

In his images a thin layer of snow rests on deep orange dunes, where he said it stayed for about a day, and forms whirling patterns where the slopes are too steep for it to settle. Snow was reportedly last seen in Ain Sefra in 1979, when a half-hour snowstorm stopped traffic.

Mr Bouchetata said: "Everyone was stunned to see snow falling in the desert, it is such a rare occurrence.

"It looked amazing as the snow settled on the sand and made a great set of photos.

What it's like to cycle across the Sahara

"The snow stayed for about a day and has now melted away."

Ain Sefra, founded in 1881 as a French garrison town and known as "The Gateway to the Desert", sees average high temperatures of more than 37C in summer and has notched record lows of -10.2C in winter, though the average hovers around freezing.

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