select - Mountain Landscapes
Written by Brian Johnston
For millennia, mountains have been admired as places of spiritual renewal, physical challenge, and extraordinary beauty. Here are three cities that, while they couldn’t be more different, are united by their location amongst spectacular mountains, from the highest Himalayas to cliffs that meet the sea.
The last city on the edge of Africa, Cape Town is cut off from the rest of the continent by a great barrier of rugged peaks, whose grand cliffs and wreaths of cloud frame the city beneath. Beyond stretches Cape Peninsula, where Chapman’s Peak Drive – carved out of solid rock along the coast – is one of the most dramatic roads in all Africa, and Boulder Beach is famous for its resident penguin colony. At the peninsula’s southern end, Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve boasts baboons, eland, mountain zebra, bontebok, and springbok. The grand finale to the Cape Peninsula circuit is Table Mountain. The summit can be reached by cable car; there is also a variety of strenuous hiking trails. Whichever way you reach the top, the stunning views over Cape Town will leave you breathless.
One of the world’s most renowned harbour cities is surrounded by dramatic ocean and mountain scenery.
Cape Town’s rugged landscape unfolds in the southwest corner of the African continent, along the Atlantic coast.
HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways flies from Doha to Cape Town four times a week.
The capital of Khorasan Province on the ancient trade route to central Asia, and Iran’s second-largest city, Mashhad’s location between the Binalood and Hezar-Masjed mountain ranges gives it an enviable year-round cool climate, best showcased in its beautiful autumns. This is also the holiest city in Iran (Mashhad’s name means ‘place of the martyr’) as the location of the shrine of Imam Ali bin Musa al Reza, a cousin to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) much revered by Shi’ite Muslims. Some 20 million pilgrims visit every year, among them many Iranian honeymooners hoping for blessings on their marriage. A view over the city and huge shrine complex is best seen from the rocky outcrop known as Kuh-e Sangi to the south, where you can also gaze along the road that eventually leads to Kabul.
Pilgrims and honeymooners alike congregate in vast numbers in this fascinating city at the gateway to central Asia.
Mashhad lies 850 kilometres east of Tehran near the borders of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan.
HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways flies from Doha to Mashhad five times a week.
Sitting in a mighty valley, the Nepalese capital has for decades been a magnet for dropouts, backpackers, trekkers, and mountain-climbers alike. You can see the snows rising in the northwest of the Kathmandu Valley, luring the adventurous with white-water rafting, mountain biking, and trekking. The city itself beckons with markets, temples, and tiny shops, as well as a vibrant cultural and artistic life.
This is the epicentre of the mountainous country, straddled by the world’s tallest peaks.
Nepal’s largest city lies in the Kathmandu Valley at a height of 1,400 metres above sea level, surrounded by four major mountains.
HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has three daily non-stop flights from Doha.