El Caminito del Rey or The King’s Little Path, often regarded as the most dangerous walkway in the world, is located along the walls of El Chorro, a gorge in southern Spain near the village of Álora. Construction of the walkway was started in 1901 when it became apparent that workers at the hydroelectric power plants at Chorro Falls and Gaitanejo Falls needed a mean to cross between the falls, to provide for transport of materials, and for the inspection and maintenance of the channel. The walkway was completed in 1905, but the inauguration did not take place until 1921 when Spanish King Alfonso XIII crossed it and the walkway’s been called The King’s Pathway since.
The walkway is one meter (3 feet and 3 inches) in width, and rises over 100 meters (350 feet) above the river below. Constructed of concrete resting on steel rails supported by stanchions at around 45 degrees into the rock face, it is currently in a highly deteriorated state and there are numerous sections where part or all of the concrete top has collapsed. The result is large open air gaps that are bridged only by narrow steel beams or other support fixtures. Very few of the original handrails exist but a safety-wire runs the length of the path. This has however turned El Caminito del Rey into an extreme vacations attraction and crossing the whole is an adventure sport for tourists. The walkway is over 3 kilometers long.
After several fatal accidents, the local government closed the path in 2000. But there are still daring hikers who manage to get around the barriers and make their way across the gorge.
Work is now due to start on an 8.3 million euros project to make the pathway safe again and attract more tourists to the area. It will take three years to re-construct and will see the pathway completely rebuilt with hand rails, protective barriers, lighting and a visitors centre.
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