El Caminito del Rey – Spain

The wind whips at our faces and before we even set foot onto the bridge, the ranger warns us not to stop along the way.

We cling on to the wire sides of the hanging bridge we are crossing. At 105 metres above the the river flowing below and between the steep rock walls on either side, it feels somewhat precarious but not too terrifying. Which is good because although Carolyn has no fear whatsoever, I am a wimp when it comes to heights.

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Look carefully –  that’s a person on the top of the bridge!

Known as “one of the world’s scariest hikes”, the boardwalk attached to the steep walls of the El Chorro gorge in the province of Málaga, Spain, reopened in 2015 after a €2.7m refurbishment. They have done a fantastic job!

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Originally built over 100 years ago to provide workers access to two hydroelectric plants, the path (aka the King’s Little Pathway) – was closed back in 2000, after the deaths of a number of people. Although dangerously dilapidated this didn’t stop some thrill-seekers ignoring the closure despite a fine of €6,000 for trespassing.

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The path has been rebuilt with secure wooden walkways following the route of the old walkway but a couple of metres above the old walkway.

At the entrance we queue up for our obligatory hard hats (and optional hairnets??). Safety is the watchword and the whole route does indeed feel very safe. Well built, well organised and the walkway has high, secure wire fences all the way .

I felt so secure that it was easy to forget that there is a 100m drop to the floor of the gorge! A few years previously, accompanied by Sue and Rob, Carolyn’s aunt and Uncle, we had stood and watched from the road as some lunatic adrenaline junkies jumped and swung across missing section of the path! I am glad we waited.

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105m above the river below…but there is a fence.

The first section of the walk affords great views of the turquoise water of the Rio Gualdalhorce swirling below.  Home is Villanueva del Trabuco some 70kms away which is where this river rises at Los Cien Canos, another site worth visiting.

The walkways winds around the corners and curves of the rock and All the way we are gripped by sheer scale of the spectacularly steep walls of the gorge. Across the gorge on the opposite wall the trainline weaves its way in an out of tunnels and over viaducts, arguabl, the most impressive train ride we have seen since the Hai Van Pass and China Beach. All around we are surrounded by beautiful mountain and river scenery. Even as we look up there is are some great sights to behold as the Gryphon Vultures that inhabit this area soar on the thermals high above the gorge above

El Caminito del Rey is a very special experience. It doesn’t take a huge amount of time and could be incorporated into most visits to the region. El Torcal is reasonably close by and is also spectacular, but we much preferred El Caminito del Rey

Logistics

We booked online at the official website several months in advance which is advisable as ticked are limited and do get booked up, many by group guided tours (guides are not really necessary)

Tickets cost €10 plus €1.55 for the bus tickets. The walk is not circular so you need to get back to the start. This means walking a very long way back along the main roads in the hot sun or getting the bus which runs every 30 mins. Trust me, the bus is worth every cent.

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