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A couple take a selfie with the Tajo de Ronda in the background, on the Caminito del Desfiladero.

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A couple take a selfie with the Tajo de Ronda in the background, on the Caminito del Desfiladero. Migue Fernández
Inland tourism

Visitors delighted as Ronda opens first stage of new gorge walk tourist attraction to the public

There were long queues on the first day of its opening on Saturday with some 1,000 people experiencing the new pathway that takes you to the foot of the town's famous 'New Bridge'. SUR was there too...

Matías Stuber

Ronda

Monday, 15 April 2024

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A huge cypress tree takes pride of place in Ronda's central Plaza María Auxiliadora. There are three restaurants here, and their terraces are all filled with tourists. It is Saturday (13 April) and one can understand Lorca's love for this town. The sun brightens the sky and there is not a cloud in sight. The air is pleasant and smells of blossom. The new Caminito del Desfiladero del Tajo experience begins after being led into what looks like a long chain of rocks. The pathway, 250 metres long and embedded in the rock, allows you to reach the bottom of the gorge and the foot of the town's famous 'New Bridge'. After its official opening by the authorities last Thursday, this is the first day it is open to the public.

Three years have passed since Ronda town hall came up with the idea until the relevant permits could be obtained, funding secured and, finally, the work materialised. In the first 24 hours that the tourist attraction's new website was open some 600 tickets had been sold. The entrance price is five euros per person. Those registered in Ronda can access it for free. By the end of the first day, almost 1,000 people had taken the tour. There is no doubt that the Desfiladero del Tajo pathway has all the ingredients to be a magnet for tourism in the town.

It doesn't take long for the once cool air to warm up. The thermometers start to climb and people start to descend to the entrance area. It is a short walk of about ten minutes to the official starting point and requires a certain amount of strength in the knees. Letting inertia run wild would lead to disaster.

A renovated house serves as a sentry box and entry point. There are long queues in front of the ticket office. Uli, who speaks Spanish with a Germanic accent, is one of the workers who greets visitors when they arrive. "A lot more people are coming than we thought," she said. If you listen, you start to hear a multitude of languages: German, English, Russian, Polish and a few unfamiliar ones.

Each visitor is registered and receives a safety helmet. Putting on the helmet and the hygienic netting underneath gives rise to a few laughs. Most are international tourists, but not all of them. There are, for example, Sebastián Millán and Pepi García. This couple from Guaro had visited Ronda to have their car serviced. "But we had read about it in the press and we were curious," Sebastián pointed out.

New, breathtaking views

What was once a difficult path is now a stepped walkway that eats away at the stone. A metal mesh safety net above protects the walkers because there is the possibility some rocks might fall.

After the first bend, which turns to the right, an imposing image is revealed. It is all a question of perspective. Accustomed to seeing the famous gorge from the top down, feeling the roles have been reversed opens up new and unfamiliar sensations.

Images are always associated with a memory and have a greater impact when they are not yet registered in the brain. The 'New Bridge', the setting of so many things, is now perceived as the great masterpiece of engineering. It rises majestically a hundred metres above the ravine and divides the rocky massif in two. It seems to have been made by the axe of a giant that has gone in very deep. The views are breathtaking and invite you to contemplate them.

As the pathway makes its way down to the bottom of the gorge, the overhanging wall gets closer. The walk is now also a spectacle of light and shadow. For a moment, the sun casts a ray of light on a piece of rock that seems softened by the constant brush with water. There is hardly any wind and the waterfall falls like a horse's tail.

Up above there is a group of eagles crossing the blue sky that fills the gap between the two rock walls. Everything that is and can be now seems superfluous. Ana Sepulveda, who has travelled from San Fernando, said: "The views are breathtaking".

The return journey is along the same path.

Two visitors point out the Tajo de Ronda from the platform of the new route.
Two visitors point out the Tajo de Ronda from the platform of the new route. Migue Fernández

María de la Paz Fernández is the mayor of Ronda and was at the starting point of the trail. When asked by SUR, she said the initial response was very encouraging. "We see that everyone is delighted. It totally changes your perspective of the gorge" she pointed out.

For now, the Camino del Desfiladero del Tajo is only 250 metres long. Some visitors complained and said they expected more. There is a second phase planned to link the current walkway with the Arab baths that goes out to tender next week. Ronda town hall is confident it can be opened by 2026. It would make the full route 750 metres long and allow visitors to walk along the actual foot of the gorge.

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