The King’s Little Pathway. It’s not a name that strikes terror into the hearts of many. And yet, on coming face to face with El Caminito del Rey, you may find your preconceptions – and your knees – quickly start to crumble.
Located only an hour outside of Malaga’s centre, the entrance to this alarming attraction can be found in Gaitanes, a gorge of such grandeur its name has reverberated around rock climbing circles for decades, and at over one hundred years old, its spectacle still impresses even the hardiest of hikers.
Built way back in 1901 as a means for brave workers to lug their loads between the village of El Chorro and the hydroelectric plant at Gaitanejo Falls, this suspended pathway sits at a startling 100 metres above the river bed below. To add even more drama to an already intimidating commute, the pathway’s width rarely extends beyond the 1 metre mark, meaning chance meetings with people coming from the other direction wouldn’t be welcome occurrences. Despite the dangers, the route remained in use and unchanged for decades, being officially christened by its namesake, King Alfonso XIII, in 1921.
Having reopened in the spring of this year – after extensive restoration to patch up some truly petrifying potholes – the pathway is now ready to receive daredevil day-trippers once again. But make no mistake; this isn’t a place for the faint hearted. Even for thrill-seekers, the dizzying heights of El Camino should not be underestimated and anyone with even a touch of vertigo is likely to run a mile from the newly installed see-through glass panels.
There’s plenty to keep you distracted however, as the 3km course winds its way through narrow ravines and out into the stunning Andalusian countryside, proffering panoramic views across aquamarine lakes and majestic mountains – just like the one you’ll be clinging to the side of if you decide to disregard this simple piece of advice: Don’t look down.