Spain’s El Caminito del Rey, or Camino del Rey, is often considered one of the world’s scariest hiking trails. It’s a narrow pathway (only three feet wide) that clings to the side of a mountain over 300 feet above the Guadalhorce river.
Made of concrete attached with steel to the gorge, it was originally built as a way for workers to cross between the hydroelectric power plants at Chorro Falls and Gaitanejo Falls. After decades of neglect, it fell into disrepair. Portions of the three km trail had fallen away, leaving gaping open-air holes to navigate across.
Which became part of its allure. Supposedly there was some safety wire, but as a writer noted about the trail on Spain-Holiday.com, “The safety wire is thin and of dubious strength. An Italian climber fell in March 2013 after the wire snapped.”
Something I found a little confusing was that apparently it was officially closed by the government in 2000 after several hikers lost their lives in both 1999 and 2000. However, even though it’s supposedly been off limits the last 15 years, hikers still tackled it. Evidently this area of Spain is known for its mountain climbing. El Caminito del Rey appealed to adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers who sought to navigate the treacherous trail. (6,000 euro fines be damned, I guess. That’s the amount I read that would be levied against trespassers. Not sure if that’s true or not. I am gathering my information from online and we all know that isn’t always necessarily the most trustworthy…)
At any rate, there had long been plans to restore Camino del Rey and improve its safety, but money posed a problem. The regional government of Andalusia and the local government of Málaga eventually shared the restoration costs. Now, after being closed for 15 years, it’s officially reopened.
The renovated Caminito del Rey will be made of wood panels with metal anchors drilled into the wall.
One of the most interesting features is represented by the occasional glass floors above the Gorge of Gaitanes at 100 meters above the river.
BEFORE & AFTER PHOTOS
I don’t think I have a fear of heights, but I’m not going to lie. The Before Pic (the top one) gives me pause. (As do a few of the other photos, like the one above showing part of the collapsed walkway. Uh uh. No thanks.)
MYTHS ABOUT EL CAMINITO DEL REY
I didn’t find a lot of ghost stories associated with the trail, but I’m thinking because of the inordinate amount of deaths that have occurred on it surely there must be some tales.
I did find this mention on an article about the trail from Spain-holiday.com that was sort of chilling though:
It’s said that a young and beautiful English woman threw herself to her death from the Balconcillo. The exceptionally beautiful, blonde-haired woman is said to have ridden her white horse along the Camino before launching herself off the bridge.
Still, paranormal activity or not, this trail looks creepy to me. At least before they fixed it up. Perhaps the renovations take some of the chill out of it. (Unless you’re afraid of exercise. Then this might be scary. The official website states in the FAQs that depending on which way you come to the trail, you might find some steep terrain to navigate to get to it.)
HOW TO GET THERE
El Caminito del Rey has an official website with all the information you’ll need to know about how to get there: Caminitodelrey.info/en.
NOTES OF IMPORTANCE
- Only 600 people a day will be allowed on El Caminito del Rey.
- You must book in advance via their Booking Portal.
- The trail will be free for the first six months of its re-opening (April – September 2015). However, on the Andalucia.com site they noted reservations are full through the end of June 2015. This will be one of those things you’ll want to book far in advance and as soon as you’ve made up your mind to do it.