The Councty Council began with the second phase of works on the Visitor Centre at El Caminito del Rey, which includes a car park, in this nature site after the refurbishment of the path. The amount of 861,592 euros was set aside for this work thanks to the EU funding through the FEDER. The project was awarded to SANDO building company for six months so it can be finished at the end of August and the Visitor Centre is planned to open during the last three months of this year.
Málaga County Council President Elías Bendodo, and Mayor of Ardales María del Mar González, Deputy Mayor of Álora Sonia Ramos, Mayor of Antequera Manuel Barón and Mayor of VAle de Abdalajís Victor Castillo and the Counct Council representatives Marina Bravo and Francisco Oblaré, County Council Deputy Presidents Ana Mata and Francisco Salado, and the spokesman of Ciudadanos, Gonzalo Sichar, have participated at the event when the first stone of the Visitor Centre was placed. The author of the project, architect Luis Machuca and Manuel Rodriguez, architect who will manage the building.
Mr Elias Bendodo explained that the beginning of works on the Visitor Centre is a new achievement regarding the Caminito del Rey project, which was successfully refurbished thanks to the teamwork of several administrative bodies, which is the reason it became a real brand and one of the best attractions and landmarks in the province in less of two years.
Bendodo underlined that between March 2015 (when refurbishment of the path started) and this February, 550,000 people visited the path and the interest for it, shown by locals, as well as tourists from other parts of Spain and world, is still growing. This is why he congratulated to the company Hermanos Campano for a job well done , considering the sale of tickets and the improvements regarding safety issues along the route, which include landslide protection meshes and screens.
The visitor centre, which is to be open in the last quarter of the year, is going to be built over a surface of 25,000 square metres next to the MA-5403 road, at the access road to the path in Ardales, just in front of the junction that leads to El Chorro and Álora. This building will be 500 square metres large and it will form part of the landscape, as wood is the main material used. It is going to be built next to a hill on the headland above the Count of Guadalhorce's Reservoir.
Two cubic parts of the building have toilets and a cafeteria. The reception is close to the entrance, and it will have the office for administration department.
A shop and a bookshop will be placed next to the reception. In front of it, there will be a space for a conference room or video presentations, where the visitors can find out about their walk along the path and the natural beauty spot Desfiladero de los Gaitanes. Next to this zone which looks over the reservoir, there will be a café-restaurant with a terrace.
As for the car park, it is planned to be done along the plot. The entrance gate is going to be next to the junction of the road MA-5403 from Ardales to El Chorro and one lane is going to stretch around the reservoirs. There will be parking places for 200 vehicles on the western part of the plot, and the rest of it is going to be reserved for coaches and shuttle buses which connect two entrance gates to the path. This way, the visitors can leave their cars here, take their tickets and necessary stuff in the visitor centre, and go by bus to the entrance to the path.
In order to make easier transport to different directions and allow the access to the entrance and exit gates, the County Council has planned to build a roundabout of 32 metres in diameter. Today, this project worth 200,000 euros is being completed.
This phase is necessary as the natural beauty spot has no capacity for the growing number of vehicles which approach the path. This should free the area around this protected nature site, and encourage the use of shuttle buses. All these jobs which form part of the second phase of the Caminito del Rey Project are going to be funded by the EU through FEDER funds.
New Tunnel in the Gorge
Besides, the company which manages the trail is making a 300 m-long tunnel in the area of the Gaitanes Gorge, which can be used in March. The walking surface in the tunnel is made of wood and it will be dimly lit with floor lights.
A boardwalk was elevated some 20 to 50 cm over the ground in the tunnel, as water can come in the cave during certain periods of the year and it can get flooded. This tunnel, which goes from Hoyo Valley to the boardwalks in the Gaitanes Gorge, will form part of the path, though its use will be optional. However it will be rather useful when the weather conditions make impossible the access to the gorge.
Thanks to this tunnel, the visitors will not be affected by the closure of this area and will be able to admire the gorge thanks to two spots wit views of it. These are holes in the rock, through which the bridge and the new boardwalk as well as an impressive arch can be seen. The amount of 150,000 euros was invested in this project.
Improvement of the Access Roads
The County Council President also said that they would continue with improving the signposting and the access roads to the path. For example, two important woks on the road from Ardales to El Chorro and the way to Bobastro have been finished. Moreover, works on the road from Valle de Abdalajís and El Chorro are beginning next week as well as those on different ways in the surroundings.