Camino del Rey, El Chorro

The gorge at El Chorro, Andalucia, is a world famous destination for climbing and is perhaps best known for “Camino del Rey” – King’s Path – the precarious and dizzyingly exposed walkway perched high on the side of the gorge.

Only a one hour drive from Malaga we were able to take a trip there last weekend – arriving on Friday night, climbing all day Saturday and Sunday, and getting the flight back home from Malaga around 9.30pm Sunday evening. ¡Perfecto!

Finished in 1905 the walkway was constructed to provide access to the workers who were building the hydroelectric power plants at El Chorro. A railway tunnel also runs through the rock of the gorge, peeking out from time to time. The walkway gained its name after the visit of King Alfonso XIII around 1921. It is built of a thin layer of concrete resting on steel rails, and despite having many holes and being generally in a poor state of repair, seemed to me to be in pretty amazing condition given its age.

There are many climbing routes in the gorge but these are less popular than they once were with the focus of climbers shifting to crags such as Frontales and Las Encantadas outside the gorge. In fact, we travelled through the gorge on Camino del Rey, but our destination was the crag of Los Cotos, at the North end of the gorge. To get to Los Cotos you take the walkway until a path leads down through a tranquil orange grove and easy river crossing, after which a tunnel under the railway takes you to the base of the climbs. I say an easy river crossing, but by the time we made the return trip the river was much higher (I guess some water had been released from the dam above) and the crossing back was more exciting.

A steel wire runs above the walkway, and equipped with a climbing harness this allows you to navigate the walkway “via ferrata” style. There are a couple of steps where the concrete has fallen away and I was glad to be clipped into the wire:

A gap

Thanks to Maggie at Casa Magel for looking after us in El Chorro.

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