Oct 30, 2015
Conjure up an image of the Costa del Sol and sunshine, sand and sangria no doubt leap to mind. Yet behind the idyllic beaches, bustling towns and tantalising local cuisine lies an altogether more dangerous feature: the Caminito del Rey.
The Caminito del Rey has served to highlight the year-round appeal of the region, which has so much more to it than one might imagine based on the postcards. In fact, a plethora of out-of-season attractions mean that the Costa del Sol is enduringly popular with second home owners looking to use their properties at intervals throughout the year.
Once known as the world's most dangerous walkway, the Caminito del Rey snakes along the cliff-face of the stunning El Chorro Canyon, hundreds of feet above the deep green Guadalhorce River. The trail attracts adrenaline junkies from across the globe; rock climbers at once fear and revere the walkway's tenuous grip on the cliff-face and its fabled state of disrepair.
The walkway was built to provide workers at the hydroelectric power plants at Chorro Falls and Gaitanejo Falls with means to cross between them, to provide for transport of materials, and to facilitate inspection and maintenance of the channel. Construction began in 1901 and was finished in 1905. King Alfonso XIII crossed the walkway in 1921 for the inauguration of the dam Conde del Guadalhorce and it became known by its present name
Such was the poor condition of the walkway that partial closures were in place for over a decade. At certain points, climbers had to balance on a single iron beam, as the entire floor of the walkway had crumbled into the ravine below. Repairs were costly and difficult due to the elevation of the path, including the need for helicopters and specialist alpinists.
Marc Pritchard, Sales and Marketing Director of leading Spanish homebuilder Taylor Wimpey España, was one of those eagerly awaiting the Caminito del Rey's reopening. He comments,
“There's so much more to the Costa del Sol than one at first realises. It's not just about sunshine and beaches – though of course it has both of those in abundance! There are also plenty of fascinating cultural and historical attractions here. So many in fact that visitors are often taken aback by how much there is to do. Several of our second home owners have seen exploring more of the area's attractions as one of their key reasons for buying in the Costa del Sol.”
In June 2011, despite (at that time) Spain's faltering economic circumstances, the governments of Andalusia and Málaga agreed that preserving this part of history was worth the €9 million price tag. The extensive project took several years to complete, but the Caminito del Rey was successfully reopened earlier this year and has already been showcased by Lonely Planet as one of the best new attractions for 2015.
The dizzying path, which is just one metre wide, was originally built to enable workers at the hydroelectric power plants at Chorro Falls and Gaitanejo Falls to cross between the two. When King Alfonso XIII walked the pathway in 1921, it gained its current name, which means 'the King's little pathway.'