The opening of the newly reformed Caminito del Rey, also known as El Camino del Rey, has been one of the most anticipated events in recent years.
The new pathway has been making headlines across the world, with Lonely Planet recently nominating a walk along the Caminito as one of the hottest things to do in 2015.
The Caminito was originally built between 1901 and 1905 and was used to transport material and people between two power stations that were built either side of the El Chorro gorge. It wasn't until the early 1920s that it was officially opened by King Alfonso XIII who walked its whole length and gave it its name. Since that time, the Camino has become one of the wonders of Spain.
The El Chorro Gorge (La Garganta del Chorro) is an amazing place, with huge walls of rock as high as 400m along its three-kilometre length. “El Chorro” can be loosely translated as the "spurt," which is exactly what the water used to do when travelling through the gorge’s narrow ravine. The height difference between the two man-made reservoirs at either end of the gorge provided a unique opportunity to develop hydroelectric energy. An almost revolutionary concept at the time.
Electrical genius notwithstanding, the real attraction has always been the concrete catwalk, El Caminito del Rey, which threads the length of the gorge hanging precipitously halfway up its side. The original structure was said to be built by sailors who were used to climbing ropes and working while suspended above a void. Unconfirmed reports have also stated that prisoners, who were condemned to death, carried out some of the more dangerous tasks.
The path was built using sand and cement, and held in place by metal brackets. A simple iron railing was put in place along this decidedly non-frills path. The Caminito slowly fell into disrepair over the years and was officially closed in 2000 after several people fell to their deaths.
This danger became the stuff of legends and attracted climbers and adrenaline junkies from all over the world, with many people referring to the Caminito as the ‘world’s most dangerous pathway.’
The government spoke of reforming the Camino for years. In late 2013, these plans finally came to fruition. The local authorities and the city of Malaga are sharing the total €5.5m renovation cost. €2.2m have been used for the new construction of the new Caminito, the rest is destined for additional services in the area, roads, parking and bus facilities. It promises to be one of the largest attractions in Andalusia, if not the whole of Spain. Tickets
Tickets have to be reserved online and can be done so on the official Caminito del Rey website. For the first six months, entrance was free. After this six-month period, the entrance fee is €10 per person. Guided tours are also available.
The maximum number of people allowed on the Caminito at one time is four hundred. Groups of up to fifty people are allowed through the initial control points, with slots allocated every half hour. A maximum of 1,100 people per day is allowed to walk the Caminito.Opening Times and Dates
The initial opening times are listed below.
1 April to 30 October: 10.00 to 17.00
1 November to 31 March: 10.00 to 14.00
Closed 24, 25, 31 December and 1 January.This route follows the river downstream and takes about 4 hours. The route starts just off the MA-444 access road that winds around the Ardales lakes. There are several ways you can get to the start of the Caminito from here. You need to get to the other side of the mountain.
The old Caminito has been left as intact as possible with the new path built just above it. It's made up of predominantly wood panels that have supports drilled into the rock face. The one-metre wide path offers several spectacular glass floor sections and culminates with a hanging bridge that crosses above the Balconcillo de los Gaitanes. Not for the faint-hearted, the bridge is suspended more than 100m off the Gaintanes gorge.