As we neared the end of our bendy ascent through the tiny town of El Chorro into the Guadalhorce Valley, I actually saw a chicken cross the road. Sensing the danger of the oncoming vehicle, its pace quickened from a composed srut to a panicked dash in a bid to avoid certain death. The punchline was still unclear, but the chicken had made it safely to the other side, and we could breathe a sigh of relief.
Before the grand re-opening of El Chorro’s El Caminito del Rey earlier this year, such an event could quite plausibly have been the most exciting thing to have ever happened in the town, which is home to roughly 250 inhabitants.
Since its revival, El Caminito del Rey has probably been written about by every blogger and independent news publcation in all of Andalucía.
It’s kind of a big deal, though to describe it as ‘big’ would be quite the understatement; when I finally visited a few weeks ago, I was genuinely astounded. From the moment we ducked into the 80m-long tunnel at the start of a scenic pre-amble, to the imposing drawbridge at the route’s climax, a list of superlative adjectives almost as bottomless as the 105m chasm itself could quite easily have escaped my lips.
It really is awesome – as in, you will actually be in awe when you see it. And by ‘it’, I mean all 7.7km of paths, boardwalks and forest walkways; the whole thing is stupefying from start to finish. See, there I go again.
Even before we get past ticket inspection we are dumbfounded (and again) by the strange, Jurassic-like rock formations across the river Guadalhorce. Once the helmets and hair nets are on (which, by the way, I absolutely rock), we are left to stroll through at our own pace.
Inevitably there is an instant blockade of camera-wielding tourists (myself included) within the first 30 yards, but you can hardly blame them (us) – the scenery is already magnificent and on the other side of the gorge, a tiny, signposted section – more like a ledge actually – of the old Caminito is just about still intact.
The highlights of the trail are the glass balcony and the drawbridge, which definitely gives you that ‘Indiana Jones rope-bridge’ sort of feeling, although this one, thankfully, does not snap as easily as the one in Temple of Doom, and there are no man-eating crocodiles idly waiting with their jaws open in the river 105m below. Still, it’s pretty damn scary. I nervously manage a selfie but don’t have the balls to attatch my phone to my, ahem, coughselfie stickcough, to get that ‘holy-jesus-look-where-the-fuck-I-am’ type shot. Never mind. Life goes on. Without selfies.