Caminito del Rey
It is not for the faint hearted or for those with mobility issues but the Caminito del Rey [El Camino del Rey] gives the walker breath-taking views and a taste of history.
Caminito del Rey, meaning the King's Little Path, is a walkway built into the walls of the El Chorro Gorge in Ardales, Málaga.
The walkway was refurbished and reopened four years ago and while this may make it feel safer, which it is, the 100metre drop to the bottom can put you in a head spin.
With sunscreen, water and a picnic in our backpack my husband Paul and I took the four hour meander along the nearly three kilometre path.
Originally built at the turn of the 19th Century, it was created to transports goods and workers between the two power stations at either side of the gorge.
The path gained its name when the king, at the time King Alfonso XIII walked the length of the walkway in 1921, 16 years after it was opened.
The walkway once bestowed the title of ‘world’s most dangerous walkway’ following the death of five people between 1999 and 2000. As a result the walkway closed and remained off limits until March 2015 following an extensive restoration and improvement programme.
These works were estimated to have cost the regional government of Andalusia and the local government of Málaga approximately €9 million.
As you walk through the gorge along the walk you can see some of the old walkway below. Looking at the crumbling path you inevitably will wonder how the walkway was built and who used it.
The legend states that it was built by sailors and prisoners, with sailors being used to climbing up ropes to the crow’s nest and with the life of prisoners not being as valuable as those who had not committed a crime.
The walk took us approximately four hours and you really would not want to rush it, the beauty of the surrounding area with flora and fauna including birds of prey circling overhead is something to be enjoyed at your leisure and not rushed.
You will get an adrenalin hit at certain parts of the walk as you peer into the vast chasm below. Rush that part if your legs start to shake or your head starts to spin, but thankfully ours didn’t.
At various stops on the walkway the number of walkers allowed to pass at any one time is restricted. At these manned points groups of 50 people are allowed through at any one time. This is for safety reasons but it also means you will not be caught up in a queue when fellow walkers take advantage of the coveted photo opportunity overlooking the gorge.
Selfie sticks are banned on the walk so if you do it alone befriend someone and ask them to take your photo, the guides will refuse as they are not permitted to do so.
Booking is essential and with restrictions on the number of people who can be on the walkway at any one time and on any given day I recommend getting your tickets well in advance.
The walk is one way and goes from north to south with a bus being available, at a cost, to take you back to the north side of the walk.
Certain rules must be adhered to such as wearing the helmet you are given on entry at all times, children under eight are not allowed and all children must always be accompanied.
Bring a picnic and something to drink but take note, there are no toilets on the walk.
To ensure the safety of the walkers, the path can be closed during high winds. Trust me, you would not want to be on the walkway during high gusts.
Parking can be tricky so book your slot for early in the day unless you can arrive by bus. The entrance is not very well signposted so be on alert when you are approaching the area. Clue, it is just down from the car park.
Pics by Eyleen and Paul Gomez