Work on the spectacular footpath is under way. CARLOS MORET
The restoration of the ‘Caminito del Rey’, otherwise known as the King’s Path and located at the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes gorge in El Chorro has now begun. The first piece of the project was put into place by a climbing expert at a special ceremony this week and, if all goes according to schedule, in February next year this famous landmark will once again be one of the greatest tourist attractions in Europe for lovers of nature and outdoors pursuits.
Ninety-two years have gone by since King Alfonso XIII first walked the Caminito in 1929 to attend the inauguration of the Conde de Guadalhorce reservoir.
At this week’s ceremony, the president of the Malaga provincial government, Elías Bendodo, handed over the ‘first stone’ of the project (which was actually a piece of wood) to mark the symbolic start of the project. The works are expected to take ten months to complete, including a period during which they will have to be suspended in order not to disturb nesting birds in the area.
Parts of the original walkway are to be left in place, while other stretches across the rock, situated between the municipalities of Álora, Ardales and Antequera, will have to be replaced. The Caminito del Rey runs at a height of 100 metres over the Guadalhorce river.
The project is to be be carried out by the Malaga firm Sando and the plans are similar in some ways to those that were proposed by the previous government three years ago. However, this project is on a smaller scale and the cost has been reduced from over eight million euros to just over three million. The provincial government has already allocated the sum of 2,239,000 euros from next year’s budget towards the financing of the project.
The works are going to be very complicated. A team of highly specialised workers will have to be used, hanging from the rock to put the wood into place along the four kilometres of rock face, as well as the metal of the bridge. Along some stretches, the floor will be made of glass panels to give a view of the gorge below. The materials will be transported to the climbers by helicopter. This is an unusual method of working, but the Caminito del Rey is a very unusual walkway.
After numerous delays, there is a great deal of satisfaction from the authorities and the public alike that this project is finally coming to fruition. “Today we are taking a definitive step towards the Caminito de Rey being used again,” said Elías Bendodo. “It will no longer be something which is prohibited and dangerous, and will become something that people can enjoy.” In early 2015 people will once again be able to walk the ‘King’s Path’.