Breathtaking beauty in Canada

PUBLISHED: 17:58 17 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:22 20 February 2013

Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada

Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada

Chris Ambrose heads for Lake Louise in the Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada, to check out some pure natural beauty

Chris Ambrose heads for Lake Louise in the Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada, to check out some pure natural beauty

A few tired footsteps later and the trees broke away to reveal a vast, mountainous cauldron. I found myself squinting at the sight before me, but no longer was this a result of sleep deprivation from another long night under canvas, but because of the narrow beams of sunlight that were piercing intermittently through the blanket of clouds and reflecting off the lake and into my eyes.

The discomfort of camping was quickly washed further from my mind with every calming wave that lapped over the shoreline pebbles that lay glistening by my feet. Located at the southern end of The Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Lake Louise is one of the most iconic views in Canada, and invariably the centre-piece for travel guide and tourist brochure cover photographs. It only takes the briefest of moments to understand why.

From my experience there are few places that live up to their pictorial representation, but this two-kilometre lake in the heart of the Rocky Mountains is certainly one that does. Infact had it not been for the creases in the cover of my guide book as a result of weeks of page-flicking abuse I could have found little to distinguish the printed view with the landscape before me.

I spent the next 30 minutes slowly meandering around the lakes perimeter, weaving through the numerous other eager-eyed visitors who were braving the early morning chill to capture this view at its quietist and most natural.

The lakeside path was lined with confused expressions as they were caught between the magnificence of the view and the determination to capture it at its best angle. To be honest there was little point in spending too long deliberating this, because as long as you avoided the lakeside hotel - whose rooms command a price that would cause the average traveller to shed a tear - there are few photographic directions that can do anything else but make your friends and family back home grimace with envy.

In the distance a solitary rower cut silently through the turquoise water, causing ripples that gradually cut further into the near-perfect reflection of the snow-capped mountains above. The occasional rumble as fresh rock falls tumbled down the opposite side of the lake served to keep onlookers out of the trance that this type of setting can inflict.

I returned to the hire car awash with a sense of calm that only a place with such stunning natural beauty can dictate. As I switched up the fan on the dashboard vents to warm my ice-chilled fingers I couldnt help but feel a rush of excitement by the thought that this was just the beginning, knowing that The Icefields Parkway - with all its mountainous trails and views - stretched on for another 200 kilometres. I could see I was going to need another photo memory card.

Flights from London to Calgary start from 520 return (

Campsites along the Icefields Parkway open from mid-May, and cost around $25 per night, which includes a plot, a fire pit and permit, wood, and access to washing facilities.

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