Not suitable for those who are scared of heights. / SUR

Four spectacular walkways for thrill-seekers in Malaga province

Thanks to its orography, rural Malaga is home to some routes which are especially attractive for people who want excitement but without putting their safety at risk

JAVIER ALMELLONES

Not suitable for those who are scared of heights. That is the description of some of the most dramatic walking routes in Malaga province these days. Thanks to its spectacular orography, the inland region is home to some thrilling places for visitors who want excitement but without putting their safety at risk. The best-known is the Caminito del Rey, but there are others as well and new projects are also being planned in the Serranía de Ronda in the short and medium term.

1. The Caminito del Rey

This is the most famous example on the list and it has almost certainly served as an inspiration for similar projects in the province. After being restored, the Caminito reopened as a tourist attraction in 2015 and since then it has become one of the most popular in Andalucía. This vertiginous route takes you through the history and nature of the heart of Malaga province, in the area around the Desfildadero de los Gaitanes gorge. The route passes through this impressive karst gorge which is situated between the Guadalhorce, Conde de Guadalhorce and Guadalteba reservoirs, and many of those who do the Caminito also take the opportunity to visit other beauty spots in the area, such as those three reservoirs and villages like Ardales, Álora and Valle de Abdalajís.

The Caminito was restored because in recent decades it had seriously deteriorated and was unusable. It was originally built at the beginning of the last century as a pathway for workers on the Conde del Guadalhorce dam, although its name – meaning The King’s Path – refers to the inauguration of the reservoir by King Alfonso XIII in 1921. Its reopening has been a landmark for tourism in Malaga province, as it has a hanging bridge with a transparent floor between the two walls of the gorge, and it links the various scenic, historical and ecological attractions of this beautiful area.

2. El Saltillo

Since the autumn of 2020, a hanging bridge over the Almanchares river, in Canillas de Aceituno, has been a new landmark on the Gran Senda of Malaga, a long circular walking route through Malaga province which is now 856 kilometres long. The bridge is built of wood and steel and is 64 metres above the river, 52 metres long and 1.2 metres wide. As it is suspended between the two sides of the gorge, it is very attractive for those who enjoy rural and adventure tourism.

This viaduct is the main attraction on the seventh stage of the Great Trail of Malaga, between Cómpeta and Canillas de Aceituno, and improvements have also been carried out to the route through the second of those municipalities. From Canillas it is just over five kilometres to the bridge, which is accessed down a steep dirt path. Those who turn round and make their way back from here will have a hard climb ahead. Those who continue on towards Sedella will also face a technical and physical challenge along a very narrow path.

Just before beginning the descent towards the bridge, you go along a metal walkway which may remind you of the Caminito del Rey, as it is attached to the rock wall and has a security fence for several metres. A little after this, if you don’t follow the official route of this stage of the Grand Trail, you will come to another.

Although this has been known for some time as La Axarquía’s own Caminito del Rey, it has little in common with the one at the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes. Their origins and size are different, and there is no resemblance in terms of tourism. While the walkway between Ardales and Álora was designed as an accessible attraction for all types of visitors, this one is only suitable for people who are used to doing quite difficult walking routes and are accustomed to steep climbs. So, to do the route described here you need both experience and skill. And, it goes without saying, not suffer from vertigo.

3. The path between El Hundidero cave and Los Caballeros dam

This year, a new addition to this club of thrilling walks is expected to open in the village of Montejaque. Although it is situated in the Serranía de Ronda, part of its territory is in the Sierra de Grazalema natural park, and it is currently putting the finishing touches to an ambitious project in the area of its ‘phantom reservoir’. It means that as well as the Caminito del Rey and the walkways and Saltillo bridge in Canillas de Aceituno, those who enjoy exciting routes can look forward to this one in Montejaque, where the Taviznilla path and the walkway over Los Caballeros dam have been restored: the dam was part of a hundred-year-old hydraulic project whose construction involved a major error. Nowadays, it is one of many unique places in Malaga province. There is also the Cueva del Hundidero, a cave which forms part of a spectacular geological system that ends at the Cueva del Gato in the neighbouring municipality of Benaoján.

The walkway is expected to open sometime this year and it will serve to link the dam with the Cueva del Hundidero, which is classified as a natural monument of Andalucía. At the moment, you can only do part of the route, specifically the dam and the path that goes down to the cave.

4. Las Buitreras del Guadiaro

Between the hamlet of El Colmenar and the Buitreras del Guadiaro there is an exciting hike to one of the most spectacular gorges in Malaga province, which has been classified as a natural monument of Andalucía because of its biological and geological importance. After one and a half kilometres along the path that goes to the left you can see a spectacular hanging bridge over the Guadiaro river, but this is just a foretaste of what Las Buitreras has to offer later, with its Los Alemanes bridge. But before getting there, there is a steep climb to the highest part of the route and this rocky enclave. However, the views make it worth the effort.

You can either stop here or at Los Alemanes bridge, although you could also walk carefully around the canyon if you wish. Las Buitreras del Guadiaro is 100 metres high and barely a metre wide in some parts. The karst complex is hugely valuable from a geological point of view because one of its vertical rock walls dates back millions of years, to the Jurassic era.

* Work is also due to begin on another new project called the Camino del Desfiladero del Tajo in Ronda this year. This will involve creating a vertiginous but safe walkway through one of the geological jewels of the province of Malaga.