Exhilarating and Breathtaking, if Caminito del Rey is not yet on your “ Must do before I die “ list, you definitely must add it
Every place has a story tell and every trip is a story in itself. The reason why this trip became a story in itself is concealed in the history of this mountainous area in the south of Spain. Probably it began millions of years ago when the African tectonic plate started to push against the Eurasian plate transforming what must have been a flat sea bottom into an incredible spectacular mountainous area. But the story goes across time, today being written by all the people visiting the Caminito. One of the people trying to add something to this story is me.
My visit to Caminito del Rey was a struck of luck. First of all, because you have to buy the tickets months in advance and let’s face it, I never know what I am going to do months from now and besides, I resent the idea of planning. Secondly, soon after that, the world shut down due to Coronavirus and no travelling was possible. In a way, Corona made it possible to find tickets and be able to buy them a few days before so maybe, it was fate after all.
Loyal to my principle that I should approach every place without expectations I did not search for information about Caminito. Don’t get me wrong, I knew about the hanging path above the gorge, that was the reason I wanted to see that place after all. But, I tried to keep my imagination on hold not create any images in my head on how it might look like. For those who do plan and research, this sounds like craziness, but you should just try it one time, see how it goes and how it feels like.
In the heart of Malaga province, roughly shaped mountains with pointy peaks are trying to reach for the sky. There, along a deep carved gorge by waters and winds, the hanging path of Caminito del Rey can be found. Although it is recent, only 100 years old, its history goes back to neolithic times, when people living in the numerous caves found in the area used this gorge to cross the mountains. Looking around I understood why the early humans were choosing this place. It looked like entering a fantastic kingdom protected by high vertical walls and it made me think about the fantastical world of Avatar. Maybe I have too much of an imagination.
It is a fantastic world in which the traveller feels overwhelmed because leaving behind the fantastic world of Avatar walking on that narrow path and seeing yourself above the abyss you find yourself thinking about Lord of the rings and feels like crossing the mountains of Mordor. A sunny Mordor with mountains looking like made out of gold under the touch of the sun. In those moments I was thinking that if I were ever looking for a treasure this could be one for sure
Caminito begins by passing through Desfiladeros de Los Gigantes or The Giant`s Gorge, as the name implies this passage is the entrance to a magical world…At least this is how I felt it. The stone giants are guarding the entrance and when I walked that path hanging above the abyss it felt like those giants are looking down on me trying to figure out what do I want, why did I travel all the way.
Caminito del Rey, Malaga, Spain by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
When I was saying that those giants were guarding the entrance to a magical world I was right. After passing the stunning and mesmerizing Giants Gorge a beautiful valley opened. Surrounded by mountains it looked like a world within the world. Although a bit disappointed that no more hanging path the beauty of that valley compensated in full. It looked a bit surreal and if it weren’t for the railroad on the left side of the valley I would have thought that maybe I was dreaming. I almost wanted to be on the train passing through this valley, I was wondering how it might look like to see it from a moving train. This is not impossible to do. The route passing through the valley is Malaga – Cordoba or Malaga – Seville. The railway was built at the end of the 19th century before the dam and predates Caminito. Considering the surroundings it must have been difficult and truly hard work to build it considering the technology available back then.
After a not very long walk through the valley, it begins to narrow down, and soon I saw how the mountains were facing each other like two rams ready to knock their heads any second. The path climbed again and the walk above the abyss resumed. Desfiladero de Los Gigantes was breathtaking but it turns out that El Chorro Gorge wasn`t any less either. I was in awe. It was incredible! I could see on the other side of the gorge the tunnel carved for the railway. I took so many pictures trying to find the perfect angle but I failed. In the end, I gave up and tried to feel, breathe all sensations I was feeling that very moment. I wanted to absorb the surroundings in a hope that maybe it could become part of me so if I ever feel like reliving the moment to be able to reach it inside me. Many words can be used to describe what I felt back then but sensations and feelings are hard to describe.
Looking down it should have been scary, still 100 meters bellow, but I haven`t felt scary at all. It felt like being alive. Maybe this is the effect of the abyss or I should call it the paradox of the abyss. Probably this is the explanation of why danger is so addictive. We feel alive only in the presence of danger. Kind of weird, but this is human nature. In my imagination, Caminito became a sort of hero’s initiation path. A path towards discovery, but in my case, a path towards discovering the hidden beauty of Spain. I can say I had my revelation, I was looking for some answers as well and meeting with nature helped.
Caminito is two km of pure emotion and adrenaline rush. At the end of it, you might discover a side of yourself that you did not know before. When the trail finished I wanted to embrace the mountain but it was too big to be able to just cover it with my arms. Physically it might have been impossible but emotionally, well that is a different story. It was such an avalanche that I am sure it was able to embrace the mountain when I was saying goodbye.
When reaching the connecting bridge at the end of El Chorro Gorge sadly I realized that this is the last stop of this amazing trail. The almost vertical walls seem to just rise from the waters like some pillars trying to reach for the sky. There were mixed feelings when I realized that this is it. There is no turning back. I did it, but would I be able to return and do it again. I did not felt like wanting to go away, just not yet.
There was such sadness when I was walking towards the bus station. Kept looking back, with a sigh. Then I remembered The moor last sigh, hmmm…so this is how Boabdil, the last Moorish king of Granada, must have felt when he had to say goodbye to it..forever…But you know what…Granda is next, so, I should get back on the road…