Caminito Del Rey : No Longer The World’s Most Dangerous Hike?
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Caminito Del Rey : No Longer The World’s Most Dangerous Hike?

June 22, 2018. Another day in beautiful southern Spain, and today we splurged. Today we have independence. It’s our 4th of July.  Fireworks, red white & blue astropops, fucking Yankee Doodle Dandy! Why? Because we got our very own rental car. 

All those people that preach, “I love not having a car! I’m not tied down! I don’t waste my money on gas! I can afford two packs of Newports per day because I don’t spend it on car insurance!”

That’s all a crock of shit. Having a vehicle is choice. It’s control. It’s FREEDOM. Oh, my little Nissan Versa back home….I’m so sorry I called you a Shitbox. I didn’t realize how much I missed you until you were gone.

I was in that rental car agency holding back happy tears as the agent slide the Collision Damage Waiver across the counter; as if it was a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation. Today was a day without public buses that smelled like piss, soot & decrepitude. A day without waiting hours for trains that would never come. A day without walking for miles in 98 degree heat with a 25 pound pack.

 

At 8pm, we embarked on our 24 hours of air conditioned luxury. Our Toyota Yaris felt like the Ritz Carlton. We drove ourselves just a short 61 kilometers from the Malaga Airport to El Churro, Spain. Here, in the Andalusian mountains, we’d find El Caminito Del Rey. “The King’s Little Pathway” is a short 3 km hike lining the sheer walls of a narrow gorge along the Guadalhorce river.

 

 

Built in 1905, the walkway was constructed to provide workers from the hydroelectric facilities at Churro Falls and Gaitanejo Falls with a way to cross between the plants.King Alfonso XIII crossed the walkway in 1921 for the inauguration of the dam Conde del Guadalhorce, and that’s how it got it’s present name.

 

Much of the original pathway is preserved under the new boardwalk.

 

 

As of 2006, the walkway was a complete and utter shitshow. There were areas of collapsed concrete; open gaps with 330 foot drops held together with slender steel beams and hope. Yet adrenaline junkies still flocked to Caminito Del Rey, putting theit lives on the line. Literally – on the line – on the single safety wire that ran the length of the path. It became famous for being known as the “world’s most dangerouswalkway.” Here’s a video showing terrifying old path that’s probably going to make your stomach do flips.

 

 

An old section of the trail.

 

Then when people started dying, in 2000 the government closed down the pathway. It remained closed for over a decade, with crazies still attempting the trail, and 4 more deaths occurring during the closure. After 4 years,and €9 million in restoration, Caminito Del Rey reopened to the public, and now we get to hike it.

Maybe.

You have to reserve tickets for the trek, and tickets have been sold out for months. Without tickets, we took our rental up the windy hills to the tiny town of Ardales, and slept in the car next to the starting point. We woke up at sunrise, had a hearty breakfast of stale bread and potato chip dust, and hiked the 5 km to the entrance gate which was only accessible by foot. We arrived to the gate just before 8:00 am, and were the only two there. Along with some Spanish guy selling candied pecans to nobody.

By 8:50 am, just before the gates opened, there were about 30 people behind us eating candied pecans, hoping & waiting for earlybird tickets. There were lots of employees chit-chatting in Spanish. What the fuck were they saying? Why did I give up on 7th grade spanish so early just because I couldn’t roll my R’s ? At 930 they began shuffling stanchions around. IT’S HAPPENING!

 

 

We got tickets! Here we go!

 

 

Caminito Del Rey has seemingly gone from the world’s most dangerous footpath, to the world’s safest. I guess after all the publicity involved in a €9 million restoration, this thing needs to be 112% out of harms way. You’re given helmets to protect your heads. Then you’re given hairnets to protect you from the helmets. It’s like a blooming onion of safety layers. From collapsing rusted metal balance beams to 3-foot wide wooden boardwalks.

 

 

 

Has the facelift stripped away all of the excitement from the pathway? In my opinion, yeah. Of course. Does it still deserve to be on Explorer Mag’s Top 50 Hikes in the World? Maybe? But probably not? That’s not to say it isn’t an incredible hike – because it absolutely is. There’s beautiful wildflowers, there’s jade colored rivers, and you’re walking 330 feet up the side of a cliff through a gorge for Christ’s sake. The pictures really speak for themselves.

 

The first steps into the trek.

 

Views towards the very beginning of the walk.

 

 

The awesome views midway through the gorge.

 

Sure, adrenaline junkies will sneer at the makeover. I feel them. I get it. But realistically, it allows others to enjoy the pathway who otherwise wouldn’t have ever attempted it. Myself included.

 

 

 

There is a decent sized section of walkway that seperates the first and second sections of the cliffside trek. Why are there signs all through this 15 minute intermission telling me I need to keep my helmet on?

 

 

 

 

 

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Welcome to the adventures & misadventures of a solo female traveler. Detailed itineraries, fresh discoveries, photo recaps, and all the storytime so you can live vicariously thru my journals as I weasel my way across the world.

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