This is one of the most surprising of structures in the world, well, you cannot even call it a structure as a matter of fact! Besides, there is a story behind how this path got a very famous name that it bears till date. The reason is that it has emerged as one of the world’s most dangerous and most scary of pathways. One one hand are normal roadways and pedestrian paths for people which are paved so as to provide maximum security and safety to the passersby, while on the other hand is El Caminito del Rey of Spain which stands out as a stark contrast to everything and anything you would have ever seen.
Simply put, there is a gorge named El Chorro in the village of Alora, in the south of Spain. It is very steep and stands as tall resolute walls that deny any convenient passage to people who wish to pass through the area that lies between two waterfalls, the Chorro Falls and the Gaitanejo Falls. It was realized that there needed to be a proper route carved along these walls to enable workers to move between the hydroelectric power plants that harvest electricity on these two waterfalls. The construction of the path began in 1901 when there was pressing need to carry materials for maintenance and supervision of both the hydro power plants.
Though the path was completed in 1905, it was not formally inaugurated till 1921 and then the king of Spain, King Alphonso the Thirteenth crossed this path and to commemorate the royal highness’s walk across the El Caminito del Rey the path was renamed as The King’s Little Path. Over the time the path’s name has been cropped to just Camino del Rey, meaning The King’s Pathway in English. It is one meter wide ( more than three feet) and over three hundred and fifty feet (100 meters) above the river that flows beneath. The path is made of concrete and is supported by steel rails which themselves rest on foundations that are fit into the walls of the El Chorro at an angle of forty five degrees.
Over the years the path has dilapidated so much that many sections of the path have simply broken down and the path has vanished from those places leaving behind large lacuna which add to the dangers of walking along this track. But since this is a famous path, the large spaces are being held together with very thin steel lines as well as fixtures. Since out of the originally installed handrails, very few are still intact, the whole trail is supported by a safety wire. The King’s Little Path or the El Caminito del Rey is today one of the very popular tourist attractions of Spain. The people come and cross this whole one kilometers long path with great zeal and enthusiasm not only because the trail is very narrow but also because crossing it is actually a Herculean task that is just not a faint heart’s cup of tea!
But unfortunately, there were many accidents on this path where many people lost their lives or were so seriously injured in two separate accidents in 1999 and in 2000 that the government was forced to take the extreme step of closing this path for anyone and everyone in the year 2000 on both the entrances to the path. People are not supposed to cross this path and entry is strictly restricted but there still are some adventure-lovers and risk-takers who sneak into the gorge through all sorts of means in order to taste the venture which is no less than a quest for testing one’s endurance because it does not only require lots of courage and patience but also a flair for trekking, climbing and descending without bothering about the steep walls that seem to push the climbers off the road right into the river that flows beneath from a height of almost 100 meters!
The government of Spain has finally undertaken the project of reconstruction and rebuilding of the El Caminito del Rey which is estimated to cost over 8.3 million euros of investment! But the whole point of such a huge investment is to make the path safe with proper handrails, fill up the air gaps with proper steel support and concrete. Advanced protective barriers are being installed and there has been a blue print planned for lighting as well as a visitor’s center. In June of 2011 the regional government of Andalusia and the local government of Malaga have together proposed to complete this work within three years along with the construction of a car parking as well as a museum. All efforts are being put together in this venture to bring about stronger foundations of this path which not only make it fir for travel by people but also retains its flavor of being an adventurous and thrilling experience for those who dare to take the challenge!