Europe Features Photo Essays Portugal

Photographing Above The Clouds | Serra da Estrela, Portugal

By Leonardo Domingos

When someone asks you to travel to a place that you’ve never been before, what do you say?

For some time, I had a goal in my mind to conquer the highest peak in Continental Portugal; Serra da Estrela. After having a chat with my friend Daniel – a fellow adventure photographer from Lisbon – we decided that now was the time. Our vision was to travel and document Portugal’s secret landscapes and hidden corners. One day, he called me and said that he had found a cool campervan. So that was that, we were on our way.

Four photographers in one campervan, packed for a full weekend of adventures and sleepless nights in sub zero temperatures.

It was nighttime when we arrived at our riverside camp spot, and it was already freezing. We decided that it was too cold to camp, so we slept in the van and prepared ourselves for a very early morning. We had a plan, but after failing to catch the sunrise due to a heavily clouded sky, we went to explore instead. The conditions were against us. It was snowing and freezing with an outside temperature of -3 degrees celsius, which might not seem that cold but I live by the beach… We explored the mountain summit until the sun came up, watching as all our surroundings emerged through the clouds. At one point I was the highest person in Portugal, then with a fresh pair of socks we endured a long day documenting and exploring the amazing landscapes that nature provided us.

At golden hour we cruised down an icy road on longboards, then as night descended we began our journey down the mountain, stopping to admire the views of our surroundings. Our final day was spent driving around the incredible mountain roads, looking for waterfalls and hidden spots.

We were there for three beautiful days and two cold nights, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. As I stood admiring nature’s beauty, I realised something. I realised that most people – and really I mean photographers – wake up early to catch the sunrise, they shoot and then they leave. Most of us are so concerned with content for social media and personal portfolios, that we forget to enjoy real life; Planet Earth and all its beauty is the best portfolio that you will ever have. Social media has changed a lot of lives – including my own – but one thing it cannot and should not change is our love and appreciation for the things that makes our work possible. We should be grateful for what nature has for us.

I was so thankful to experience a place like this with such great people. There’s so much more to see and explore in Portugal, and this is only the beginning.

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Follow Leo on Instagram for more of his beautiful photography.

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