Have you heard of El Caminito Del Rey? Well, if you are spending anytime in or near Malaga, El Caminito Del Rey is a must do.
El Caminito Del Rey is an 8 kilometer or so path that wanders through a gorge (called the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes) carved out by the Guadalhorce river. The walls of the gorge are some 300 meters high and parts of El Caminito Del Rey are suspended (well, maybe pinned is a better word but I’m no engineer) about 100 meters up from those walls.
The walkway was originally built between 1901 and 1905 as a one meter wide path to allow workers to bring supplies to a hydroelectric power plant. (The plant is no longer functioning.) In 1921, King Alfonso XIII decided to take a stroll on a small part of the pathway while inaugurating a dam. However, he didn’t walk very far (scaredy-cat), giving the walkway its present name (which roughly translates as The King’s Little Pathway).
Over the years, the pathway deteriorated to the point where there were gaping holes in the path. There was also no handrail but, never fear, there was a cable you could clip on to in case you slipped (although apparently nobody maintained it and it was not at all clear how well the cable would work if you truly needed it).
The sorry condition of the path didn’t stop adrenaline junkies from walking the trail — in fact, it was probably a prime attraction for that very reason — and several people fell to their death while making the trek. Thus, the Caminito Del Rey became known as the world’s most dangerous walk.
Unfortunately for the nickname and fortunately for those that walk the path today, the path was restored in 2011 and is no longer dangerous (although it still looks pretty scary). Now, there is a nice solidly constructed (and plenty wide) path, everyone must walk in the same direction (thankfully, mostly downhill), and you even get a silly safety helmet (complete with a disposable hair net for reasons unknown) that I’m quite confident would be of absolutely no use in an emergency.
There are even critters to be seen on the trail. A large breeding population of Griffon Vultures can often be spotted soaring overhead (we saw tons of them). And, there are wild goats.
Unfortunately, we found it impossible to book a ticket to do this on our own and had to book an organized tour from Malaga. Oddly, the tour guide readily admitted that he knew most of us booked the tour only because we couldn’t buy tickets any other way, so it apparently is a known problem.
Nonetheless, El Caminito Del Rey is well worth doing. And, truly, not really all that scary.