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Mountains: A Photo Essay

By on Jan 4, 2012 in Uncategorized | 11 comments

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Mountains have the power to awe and inspire like no other landscape on earth. They remind us of our own insignificance in the world, they are a challenge to take on and they have an aesthetic, timeless pefection which leaves us weak at the knees. I spent much of last year living at high-altitude, waking up to views of the mountains, climbing them and even skiing down them. Now, living in a part of England which is as flat as a pancake, I miss the challenge and the beauty of mountains; I miss the way they make my soul sing.


Alps, France

First there was France – a brief sojourn in the glorious Alps


Languedoc, France

After living for a while at the foot of the Pyrenees.


My more recent ‘home abroad’ was Ancash in Peru, where the Cordilleras Blancas kept me in their thrall day after day.

Cordilleras Blancas

You can’t go far in Peru before you reach one mountain range or another – Mountains define the country’s history and its present culture – and provide some of the most spectacular landscapes on the planet.


Peruvian boys playing football

From the sparkling villages on the mountains around Cuzco…


Inca trail

…and the soaring peaks of the Sacred Valley


Arequipa, Peru

…to the volcanoes of Arequipa.


Some mountains quite literally overshadow the lives and cultures of entire communities, like Cerro de Potosi in the Bolivian highlands. It is the kind of thing Spanish conquistadores dreamed of: a mountain full of silver. In those bygone colonial years, Potosi became synonymous with wealth, but today miners still work there, extracting silver for very little in return.

Cerro de Potosi

Potosi, one of the highest towns in the world, is a dry and arid place, but further north and lower down lie the mountains of Bolivia’s cloud-forest: lush, green and buzzing with life.


Bolivian cloud-forest

It’s quite amazing that I roused myself from the guesthouse at all when this was the view from my bedroom window. It’s in these mountains that much of Bolivia’s coca production is, a place where small communities defend their identities and unique cultures, largely unnoticed by the rest of the world.


The mountains of Rio de Janeiro are equally verdant, but much better known.

On Sugarloaf Mountain

The view from Sugarloaf Mountain, with the mountains stretching in all directions and growing hazy under the setting sun, is an incomparable sight.


But a northern corner of Chile holds one of my favourite sights of all…

Valle de la luna

…there is something about the sun setting over the snow-capped Andes, the ridged outline of the range mirrored by the rocky desert formations that makes my heart do somersaults.


It ends where it all began: in the Alps.

Italian Alps

Only this time, on the Italian side. I had just left the Andes behind, but the Alps didn’t fail to leave me awestruck all over again.

I have learnt so much from the mountains I’ve seen on my travels – about communities and people as well as about nature. I respect their power, am beguiled by their beauty and savour every memory of reaching the top of a mountain, with all the wonder that moment brings.


What is your favourite landscape? How does it make you feel?



  1. Krista

    4 January 2012

    Post a Reply

    Oh Katy, these are WONDROUS photos! I kept catching my breath and sighing and couldn’t help myself. :-) Thank you for these glorious images and reminders of beauty. xo

    • Katy Stewart

      4 January 2012

      Post a Reply

      Thank you so much, Krista :) I think I caught my breath and sighed in every one of these places!

      • fareeha khawar

        30 October 2014

        Post a Reply

        i love the mountains i wish i spent my few life in the mountains ,, i wanna enjoy the beauty of nature ,, mountains attract me alot …

  2. Erik

    4 January 2012

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    I, too, love Mountains. Thanks so much for sharing these. The Rocky Mountains here in North America are pretty awesome, too.

    • Katy Stewart

      4 January 2012

      Post a Reply

      Thanks, Erik. I’d love to get to the Rocky Mountains someday soon – big travel ambition for me!

  3. Riccardo

    4 January 2012

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    Katy, having hiked all the mountain ranges in the world except Mt Kilimanjaro, I enjoyed your observation, “Mountains have the power to awe and inspire like no other landscape on earth.” Each mountain seems to have its personality, yearning to speak to us in geologicalese, and narrate its own tectonic history.

    When visitin Erik on the Rocky Mountains, you will feel the youth and dynamic vigor of an earth still shaping itself. Go in the winter and ski to your heart’s content, too!

    • Katy Stewart

      4 January 2012

      Post a Reply

      Wow, Riccardo, that’s impressive! I’ve only done the teeniest bit of hiking in the Alps and the Pyrenees and a fair bit in the Northern Andes – everywhere else is still a dream away. You’re right about each mountain having its own personality though – Huascaran in Peru always seemed like a wise old man to me!

  4. jo

    6 January 2012

    Post a Reply

    I cant attach the picture i have (or many pictures i have!!)but Mulanje has to be one of the best mountains too…
    Love this post

    • Katy Stewart

      8 January 2012

      Post a Reply

      Oh, sorry Jo – photos can’t be attached via the comments, but feel free to send it to me!

  5. Elise Walsh

    26 January 2012

    Post a Reply

    I love these photos! Especially the sparking city of Cuzco. But I really love each of these moutains. I am so inspired to plan a trip to any one of these spots now! Thank you for this post :)

    • Katy Stewart

      29 January 2012

      Post a Reply

      Hi Elise, thank you so much for that comment – I’m glad the post has inspired you :)

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