You know you’re in for a thrill when a related Google search for “Caminito del Rey” suggests “death toll.”
Called the world’s most dangerous trail, Caminito del Rey is a roughly five-mile walkway that clings to the walls of the El Chorro gorge in southern Spain. It closed in 2000 after a number of people fell to their deaths, and it reopened this month after a reported $US5.8 million restoration project.
Reuters photographer Jon Nazca hiked the pathway before it opened to the public. Experience the journey for yourself by scrolling below.
The original path was built between 1901 and 1905 as an access road to two hydroelectric plants.
The locals began taking advantage of the trail on foot, bicycle, and horse. Women crossed to reach shops in the next village, and children used it to get to school.
In 1921, King Alfonso XIII traversed the path on his way to the opening of a nearby dam. Locals named it “El Caminito del Rey,” or the King’s Little Pathway.
The boardwalk hangs 100 meters above the water, providing breathtaking views of Spain’s natural beauty. The full route takes four to five hours to complete.
Time wore on the walkway, however, leaving it pockmarked and decrepit. In 1999 and 2000, several travellers died attempting to cross.
Local authorities shut it down by destroying the entry points. Anyone caught trespassing received a hefty fine of $US6,500.
The ban made the hike only more appealing to daredevils, who would strap on GoPro cameras and upload videos of their jaunts to YouTube.
The government took note of the walkway’s popularity and decided to rebuild it, making the path safer and attracting more tourism dollars to the area.
A reported $US5.8 million later, the new wooden and steel walkways hover just feet above the original route in some areas. The project’s director and head architect, Luis Machuca, told The Guardian that preserving the thrill of the old path was crucial.
Visitors can purchase admission tickets to El Caminito del Rey online, though it is booked through June. An expected 600 people will cross every day.
“It’s not only the view and the surroundings, but the emotion of walking the Caminito del Rey,” Machuca says.
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