Feel to see: a special route along El Caminito del Rey for blind people
Dozens of people with visual impairment have come to the path for the first time, and followed the route, unique of its kind, which was designed for them.
They could experience the path and its history, geological features and the surrounding nature through their other senses, such as touch, hearing, smell and taste.
The aim of the visit, which is in its trial phase, was to break down barriers, and it can become a 'short-term reality' according to the company in charge of managing El Caminito del Rey.
A unique sensory experience has been offered on El Caminito del Rey : perceive the path beyond the vision. A group of people with severe visual impairment has visited the path today to find out about its geological features, history, culture and nature through a route which was specially designed for people with these characteristic for the first time ever.
Ten blind people or people with severe visual impairment, members of ONCE Málaga (Spanish association for the blind), who were walking with a sighted companion at all time, as dogs are not allowed to the path, had experienced the path in a unique way through four senses.
'The feeling one can have at an altitude of 105 metres is incredible, and the fact that a blind person can fee the sway of a hanging bridge, for example, is unbelievable', says Francisco Campano, manager of El Caminito del Rey path.
'Designing of a tourist and cultural offers adapted to the blind or people with visual impairment is basic for breaking down barriers, stimulating social values and encouraging cultural identity', said Pedro Cantalejo, archaeologist and head of protocol in the case of visitors with visual impairment who come to El Caminito del Rey He also added that they offered a sensory experience in a way that oral descriptions of the surrounding nature and history of the path were followed by the actions which stimulated the senses of touch, hearing, smell and taste.
Sense of Touch
A scale model of the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes gorge was used so the group could touch the path they are going to walk along. The history was in their hands. They found out the details about different stages in the history of the path. Prehistoric pottery, flint tools, arrows' points, or bone punches, are some of the objects used by the first inhabitants in the area. Of course, they knew which was the industrial importance of this site after they could touch the big crank of the reservoir's gate in the area known as Hoyo Valley or 'Valle del Hoyo' and the walls of the canal.
Moreover, Pedro Cantalejo talked about geological features of this place, and used some real examples of chalky rocks, sandstone or fossils, which they could take and touch. The plants that exist in the area were also included in the event, as the group could touch the bark of some trees like pine, juniper, palmetto and carob trees.
Sounds at the Path
Listen to see. Through the sense of hearing, the visitors with visual impairment could hear the sound of water that flows through the canyons. They could also hear birds, such as choughs and tits singing.
Taste of the Heights
This unique feeling of using the sense of taste along the path consisted in trying carob powder, a tree which was planted here in the 13th century and that can be seen in the valley, between the two parts of the boardwalks. Its taste was similar to cocoa, according to the visitors.
Smells along the Path
The group was given information followed by multisensory experience as the visitors could listen to the guide talking about the plant life in this beauty spot and touch the plants, as well as hear the leaves of the species that live along the path at the same time.
'This proposal should help tourism for people with visual impairment. Our intention is to offer this kind of visits in future in the short term', says Francisco Campano. He also explained that this kind of visits was going through a trial period. He added: 'an important issue which we are working on at the moment is the training of guides and professionals who work at the path so they can assist this kind of groups'.
This proposal has opened new possibilities for tourism, supplying people with some kind of vision loss with the same tourist and cultural offer as the rest of people in the province of Málaga.
Digits Related to El Caminito del Rey
Since the path was rebuilt and opened at the end of March in 2015, more than 600,000 people walked along it and it received 1,100 visits a day. More than 85,000 tourists have come to this nature site since the beginning of year from all over Spain and the world.
Important Information Regarding El Caminito del Rey
El Caminito del Rey is a curvy way, which goes over the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes gorge along the boardwalks which are fixed to the walls at an altitude of 100 m. It consists of 8 km -long route, which goes along the trail which is 1 m wide for round 3 km.
One of its most famous parts is the hanging bridge, a walkway which is 105 m high. This linear path takes 4 hours to be crossed. In order to get to this hidden place in the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes Natural Beauty Spot (in the towns of Ardales, Álora ann Antequera), visitors must come to the north access in Ardales.
El Caminito del Rey is more than a dizzy trail, as it witnessed the industrial history of Málaga and it is also a trip through nature that is typical for the inland of the province. King Alfonso XIII visited the path in 1921 in order to open the works on the large Hydroelectric Power Station in El Chorro, which was the reason this trail was named after him.
The refurbishment of this nature site has turned the Province of Málaga in one of the favourite destinations for toe who want to go away for a weekend, enjoy active tourism and hiking, and it became a stimulus for the area.