Famous El Caminito del Rey footpath opens this Easter
It’s a bit like being Indiana Jones. You’re on a narrow path that clings to the side of a cliff, staring at a river hundreds of metres below you. The drop is deep and the sight amazing – maybe even a little scary. But unlike Indie, you have nothing to fear: this is the El Caminito del Rey footpath, and its restoration means you can cross the deep gorge without fear. That is, if you’re not afraid of heights.
A famous footpath for thrill-seekers
The El Caminito del Rey footpath has a reputation for testing your nerves. Most famously, it has a narrow walkway that clings to the rock face high above the river, right at the point where the gorge empties into the El Churro dam. To keep you on edge, the engineers have installed a special section of glass floor so you can look down to see just how high up you are. And if that isn’t enough, at the end of the path there’s a wire suspension bridge which leads you across the gorge at a dizzying height.
But the El Caminito del Rey footpath isn’t just worth the walk because of all the thrills. Al large part of the 7.7 kilometres long path is on land. It leads you to see all the beauties of the Andalusian countryside, amongst which a pine tree forest, birds of prey and wild flowers. But if the views of the valleys and mountains aren’t enough, there’s also plenty of history to discover. Along the route you can see the occasional abandoned piece of industrial machinery and other materials, remind of the regions industrial heritage. And at one point along the route, archaeology has revealed a 25-centimetre ammonite fossil in the rock face. All in all, the El Caminito del Rey footpath offers much, much more than just one vertigo-inducing suspension bridge.
Although the path is now named after the visit of the Spanish king in 1921, it was originally built for the people who worked on the dam and nearby hydroelectric scheme. It seems the locals were fearless, as it soon became the main route for access between the El Chorro village and the outlying houses used by shepherds and dam construction workers. Over ten years ago the foot path was closed because of safety concerns. But its popularity and unique location drove the government to restore the El Caminito del Rey footpath ever since.
But what makes the site so beautiful has at the same time been the biggest problem for the El Caminito del Rey restoration project: its remote and inaccessible location. It had engineers hanging from ropes installing parts of the footpath in steel and wood, not unlike how the path was probably made about a hundred years ago. In bit more of a modern fashion, helicopters were used to bring supplies to the building sites instead of donkeys and sand barges. The result can be experienced from Easter onwards, when the Caminito del Rey footpath finally opens to the public.
When living in Marbella, it’s definitely something to put on your to-do list. Apparantly, once you have walked the Caminito del Rey footpath once, you’ll keep coming back for more. Are you up for the challenge?
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Image via Gabi