OCT, 2015

“The World’s Most Dangerous Walkway” – The Caminito Del Rey, Granada, Spain

Dubbed “the world’s most dangerous walkway” due to a number of deaths in the late 1990s, the Caminito Del Rey (in Spanish, “the King’s little walkway”) is a walkway suspended 300 feet high above a gorge in Malaga Province, Spain. Fully restored after mounting pressure on the local government after said deaths, it is now secured with a metal barrier and modern improvements to the path underfoot, making the once perilous crossing properly open to the public to hike.

Offering remarkable views, and the ‘pull factor’ that you’re following in the footsteps of those who have completed the most dangerous walk in the world, it’s easy to get excited about this particular walk. The walkway is somehow stapled to the smooth hard rock face of the gorge – with elements of the original walkway from 100 years ago, such as concrete blocks, old brackets, and lamp fixtures, still present. Supporting beams jut out of the rock beneath the original concrete path (which itself sits beneath the new one) at a 45 degree angle, giving it more strength.

Fully utilitarian in origin, the walkway was first built in the early 1900s to allow manual workers to cross the gorge between two sites at waterfalls either side of the gorge without having to go round. It took four years to complete and was ready for its first footstep in 1905. The ‘King’ in question, Alfonso XIII, crossed the walkway in 1921 and unwittingly gave the until-then-unnamed path its present nickname.

The modern restorations mean you can undertake this roughly eight-kilometre walk without worrying loved ones about your safety – EUR 9 million has been spent on securing the path, making it safe, and offering amenities like a car park and nearby shops. However the thrill, vertigo, and sense of scale all remain – making for a stimulating experience indeed. Trainers or decent walking boots are all that are needed (non-slip recommended – I came on a wet day) although be prepared to trek a 4km section of the 8km through the forest path to get to the start of the actual suspended boardwalks of the Caminito.

The boardwalk itself is about 3 feet wide – just enough room for people to pass but not much more – but which means you can always look pretty much straight down. As you go further, larger and more complete sections of the original walkway can be seen, seemingly preserved in order to remind the tourist of the danger people would put themselves in to complete this trek.

And this is where the walk really comes into its own. Many people have died attempting to cross the path pre-modern renovations, and it’s easy to see why. As you walk along, savouring the view of the gorge and beyond, you find yourself tracing the original route.

“Oh – they’d shuffle along that old concrete beam there…”

“Then there’s a gap – they’d have to jump across…”

“… and there’s an old handhold they would have had to use…”

The original path and its furniture, looking like something out of a runaway mine cart ride but for real, totally encapsulates you. The fact people did this at all speaks volumes – but at my hotel before I set out to do this hike, I learnt that the owner didn’t used to do the walk for kicks at all. He did it because it was simply the quickest way across the gorge (if you didn’t die). He had done it, pre-safety conversions, hundreds of times. On one occasion, he turned back and did it twice because he forgot his cigarettes.

Information on the Caminito Del Rey is widely available online, including the official site which allows you to plan your trip in advance, book tickets, and look up frequently asked questions.

It can be found at www.caminitodelrey.info/en/