Are you an adventurer who likes to push their own limits to the extreme? If so, have I got something for you? What would you say to walking the walkway that’s only 1 meter (3 feet) wide, has no railings and is pinned on the mountain wall that’s 700 meters (2300 feet) above the river deep within the treacherous Gaitanes Gorge of El Chorro, Spain? Not crazy enough, then imagine that the pathway was built in 1905 and by now it’s fallen apart to a point that there’s often nothing but metal bearing rods left. This deadly trail is known as the most dangerous walkway in the world. This is El Caminito del Rey or The King’s Little Pathway.
El Caminito del Rey Location
El Caminito del Rey (sometimes referred to as Camino del Rey which removes diminutive from it) is located within the Gorge of Gaitanes in Andalucia – the southernmost province of Spain. Being the part of the Subbetica moutain range, the Gorge of Gaitanes (Desfiladero de los Gaitanes in native Spanish) is a beauty spot by itself. The River Guadalhorce carved its way through enormous mass of limestone leaving vertical stone walls reaching as high as 700 meters.
Malaga is the closest city to El Caminito del Rey, with Alora being the closest medium size town. The closest settlement would be the village of Bermejo which is located only about 2.5 kilometers from El Chorro.
You can get to El Caminito del Rey via Guadalhorce reservois which are located to the north of Gaitanes Gorge, or via El Chorro, which is at the dam to the south of Gaitanes Gorge. El Chorro is known as the best rock-climbing area in Europe, however the majestic beauty of the location and extreme adrenaline rush offered by El Caminito del Rey are what attracts most tourists to the area.
Check out the location of El Caminito del Rey on the interactive map below (provided by Google Maps):
History of El Caminito del Rey
The works on what was soon to become the most dangerous walkway in the world started in 1901 when the Gaitanejo Falls and Chorro Falls hydroelectric power plants got to a need of a walkway that would bridge both plants and would allow for transportation of material. It took four years (1905) for the construction workers, who are believed to have been of Asian descent, rather than Spanish, to finalize the walkway.
The inauguration of the walkway did not take place until 1921 when Spanish King Alfonso XIII crossed it and the walkway’s been called The King’s Pathway (or El Caminito del Rey in Spanish) since.
By the beginning of 21st century, El Caminito del Rey has deteriorated to a point that it was highly dangerous to walk on it. Many parts of the walkway had collapsed leaving open holes on an already narrow passage without railings. This has however turned El Caminito del Rey into an extreme vacations attraction and crossing the whole of it was like an adrenaline sport for tourists looking to face danger.
El Caminito del Rey Death Toll
There is a wire pinned into the wall that follows most of the walkway and can be used by people to latch onto as safety precaution, but it was not designated to carry much weight. The walkway was closed off in 2000 after 4 people died on it within a span of two years. Many travellers however find the way to get on El Caminito del Rey and get themselves the rush of walking on the most dangerous pathway in the world.
Check out the video below to see how some adventurers have nerves of steel and walk up and down El Caminito del Rey like there is no abyss below them at all. The person who filmed this video also had one of his hands bound as it was holding the camera, so he only had one hand to use to balance himself off. He also didn’t stop at collapsed areas and just walked across the metal beams like it was a sidewalk on the street. True nerves of steel and an amazing sense of balance. The video gives great perception of how insanely dangerous El Caminito del Rey is:
The total length of El Caminito del Rey is 3 kilometers. He wouldn’t be able to pass the whole 3 kilometers of really damaged pathway in just over 6 minutes, but he definitely did the craziest part of it.
When El Caminito del Rey was built, several additional bridges were built and tunnels carved into the stone of Desfiladero de los Gaitanes which were used to build the railway that connected Malaga and Sevilla/Cordoba. The railway tunnels are off limits to visitors, but it is still possible to get there.
The Future of El Caminito del Rey
Even though access to the most dangerous walkway in the world has been officially removed in 2000, plans are to restore El Caminito del Rey, make it safe so as to avoid fatalities and make it once again available to tourists as one of the main attraction in the area. It is possible that the walkway will be privatized in order to speed up the repair works, however that would result in the attraction being paid for in order to access. We’ll see what future holds for El Caminito del Rey. At present time there are signs warning and deterring from access, but it is still possible to get on it and walk it. You are doing it at your own risk and with full knowledge that you’re breaking the bylaw. However it is unlikely we will see the most dangerous walkway in the world officially reopened to public any sooner than perhaps in 2012.