09 May 2010
This Saturday we visited another intriguing and spectacular area of Andalucia — the city of El Chorro, and its historic “Caminito del Rey.”
El Chorro, about an hour northeast of Marbella, is a small city that sits at the base of the “Desfiladero de los Gaitanes,” one of the world’s most impressive canyons, with a depth of over 700 meters (2,300 ft). Back in 1901, the King of Spain, wishing to visit the El Chorro electrical installation had a pathway — known as the “Camino del Rey” — constructed along the side of the canyon walls.
The trail wasn’t maintained, and eventually began collapsing in places. Finally, it was permanently closed in the year 2000, after three people died due to collapsing sections and accidents. Several meters of the trailhead were removed to prevent access, but still today, though, people regularly climb a vertical ledge of the wall to access, and traverse the trail.
As you can see from the photos below, the area is simply amazing to visit. The scale of the canyon seems monumental, especially when experienced up close. After having lunch at an fantastic venta, we sat and watched climbers scaling the wall, accessing the trail, and climbing the bridge. Later, we hiked to the point at which people begin to scale the wall; at that point truly appreciating the risk these people take.
We then walked through the cool train tunnel, to access views of the camino from inside the canyon.
And, to really appreciate the danger of this trail, have a look at the following video of someone walking along the camino. You won’t believe your eyes.