How to survive the world’s deadliest pathway…
I’m 6’4” but don’t like heights. When I stand on the edge of tall buildings I sometimes get the feeling that I might just decide to walk off! I’ve always been clumsy, as a teenager my brain hadn’t always got the message how much my arms and legs had grown overnight.
Added to this, for the last few days, as result of a possible ear infection, I have felt woozy and my balance has been dodgy . So, to wake up knowing today was Caminito Del Rey day, once dubbed “the most dangerous walk in the world”, wasn’t filling me with eager anticipation.
Getting tickets for the gorge walk can be difficult but it’s something I’d been planning do right from the outset of this trip. Depending on the time of year you have to book weeks in advance, as only about 10% of the tickets are available via on-line booking. That said we saw people just turning up and buying tickets on the day.
SPOILER ALERT – If you’re considering in the future doing the walk yourselves the following may ruin it for you. You should also think carefully about watching one of the many YouTube videos of fearless, unhinged hikers walking the old pathway before you tackle it yourself.
The Camino del Rey was built as a way to transport workers and building materials between the two hydroelectric plants at Guadalhorce Reservoir and the El Chorro Dam. The original path was first made in about 1905, a wooden thing which was low down close to the water, and which washed away whenever the river flooded.
If you could get here by any other means. It would make one hell of a geology field trip…. ” Rocks found in and on the Earth’s crust are sedimentary rocks. They form when sediments, like silt and sand, collect and harden. Over the course of millions of years, this process results in thick layers of sedimentary rock. The Earth’s plates moving can push older layers of rock to the surface while burying others. This is why some rock formations have layers, or strata, that appear as vertical stripes or swirls instead of horizontal layers”.
In 1920 an improved path was constructed of concrete laid on steel rails supported by stanchions built at approximately 45 degrees into the rock face. The idea that workers and locals alike would use the old path as a day-to-day way to get up and down the gorge is just mind boggling.
It deteriorated over the years, and there were numerous sections where part or all of the concrete top had collapsed. The result was large open-air gaps bridged only by narrow steel beams or other supports. Few of the original handrails existed, although a safety wire ran the length of the path.
The same ancient path was being used by climbers and nutters alike up until 1999, despite the fact it was falling apart.
The final straw, our guide told us, was when three climbers died on a zip wire at the highest part of the gorge. The three hooked up to the untested line. With the weight of the three of them, one end of the wire came away from the cliff and dumped them in the gorge below, requiring the gorge to be flooded from the dam above to flush their bodies out.
The local government closed both entrances by dynamiting 30m sections of the old path. Even so, in the four years leading up to 2013, four people died attempting to climb the gorge.
But the old path’s still there for you to marvel at as you try to photograph the entire thing.
The hanging part of the trail is made of stainless-steel supports and wire moorings anchored to the rock face with a deck made from wooden slats on top. Some sections also have glass floor so the visitors can see the gorge and the old boardwalk, which remains there as architectural heritage.
Caminito’s re-opened in March 2015 – after a €2.7million renovation financed by the governments of Malaga and Andalusia. Not a bad investment though as 300,000 visitors came in the first year after it opened at a cost of €10 per head.
There are dozens of Griffin vultures circling overhead on the thermal currents enabling them to glide a couple of hundred feet above you. Their wing spans can be up to 3 metres.
It’s a bit of a worry when you’ve got to risk life and limb – to provide for their lunch!I
Scared, who says I’m scared, this bit is a piece of cake, nothing to it…. Oh god!
Once you’re across the bridge., you’re not there yet. Just a lot of steep steps where you have to look at your feet and you can’t help but notice that there is not a lot under the walkway for quite a while!!!
The construction of the new walkway was completed by a team of specialist mountaineers in an incredibly quick 11 months – Their engineering achievement in this place well it’s……
It’s taken me a couple of days for my hands to stop shaking and knees to stop wobbling. I had been talking up the idea of finding an easy Via Ferrata to do. Well you can forget that. But I am thinking I’ll get a tee shirt printed with in bold letters on the front.
I don’t do heights – EVER
Dave & Lesley
We have nearly new Motorhome for our next adventure a Carthago C-Tourer I149. We love our first Charlie but we expect the Charlie II to keep us warmer in the winter.