In the dead of winter, my mind often wonders to
Tucked away near the tiny village of El Chorro in Spain, the Caminito del Rey recently found itself out of commission after several hiking deaths. The limestone cliffs and hidden valley are inaccessible by any other means than this treacherous concrete path. The walkway will open afresh this week after a reported $5 million in repair costs.
Tourists and daredevils from across the globe have flocked to the Caminito del Rey for nearly a century. The path came by its nickname, “the world’s most dangerous walkway,” honestly. The Caminito del Rey was constructed in 1905 as a maintenance trek for moving materials between the hydroelectric power plants of Chorro Falls and Gaitanejo falls. For hiking purposes, the path was inaugurated in 1921 by Spanish King Alfonso XIII, who enjoyed its scenic destination views that rise over 350 above the bottom of a canyon.
Over the years, the path crumbled with entire parts falling into the water below. But deteriorating walkways and completely missing chunks of concrete did little to deter enthusiasm for “The King’s Walkway.” The path remained a must-visit destination for global thrillseekers. For decades, hikers clung to the suspended catwalk and used ropes to cross areas where the concrete had completely disappeared. The path’s rusty support beams did not receive any maintenance repairs since the 1920s.
Unfortunately, several deaths occurred on the Caminito del Rey over the past few decades. 3 people, commemorated in this plague, fell to their deaths in 2000. The path closed in 2011 for some very overdue repairs.
The good news? The Caminito del Rey will reopen this week, thanks to repairs ordered by Prince Felipe (King Alfonso XIII’s great-grandson). The bad news? Hikers who wish to test their limits will find a much safer walkway. After over $5 million in renovations, the concrete path was replaced with wooden slats and glass panels. In addition, handrails have been installed over the entire length of the hike, which takes an average of 3-4 hours to complete.
The question remains whether the Caminito del Rey’s new repairs will increase or decrease the level of tourism for this attraction. Only time will tell, but reservations are encouraged. Only 400 people will be allowed to walk at one time.
This video documents the Caminito del Rey’s repair process.