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El Caminito del Rey and its role in Local Development

El Caminito del Rey and its role in Local Development

El Caminito del Rey as a Service Trail

The trail known as ‘El Caminito del Rey’ had an important role in a unifying mission of the village El Chorro. This narrow path, which goes along the right side of the gorge – El Defiladero de los Gaitanes (currently it only goes along the railway on the left bank of the Guadalhorce), was used for transport services between a small dam at the beginning of the water canal in Gaitanejo and the hydroelectric precipice El Chorro, placed past the Cliff of El Gran Gaitán.

El General Primo de Rivera recorriendo el Caminito del ReyThis, above all, functional path, very soon after it had been built, started to form part of everyday life of local people from El Chorro and surrounding villages. Besides few houses, the village El Chorro had many caves turned into houses with plenty of inhabitants, which were spread all over different mountains. For instance, in the area of Gaitanejo, where the beginning of the water canal connected to the hydraulic dam was, lived many families. Some of them were directly involved in the canal and hydraulic precipice maintenance, while the others were shepherds or farmers. The creation of the path that was 100 metres above the bottom of the gorge entailed a fast and comfortable access to El Chorro village. The building of the path also advantaged other caves inside the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, like Toro (Bull) Cave, because they got directly connected with the railway and El Chorro.

Workers of El Chorro Dam

In the 1920s, after the dam El Chorro or The Count of Guadalhorce’s Dam, as it was called later on, was built, some of the workers who participated in its construction stayed to live in that area. The trail – El Caminito del Rey was of great help to all of them. Children could go to school that was not far away, women buy essential products, and it was possible for everybody to keep in touch with other villages behind the surrounding mountains.

Visita al Caminito del Rey de los miembros del Congreso de Oceanografía. 21 de mayo de 1935Continuous comings and goings of people of all ages along the trail were common from that moment during the day or night, considering that the way was lightened. Inhabitants from this area used it to meet other people, and still today, they remember very fondly how they  walked along the path Caminito del Rey, on foot, by bicycle or on a horse, when they wanted to cross the Gorge of the Gaitanes. They remember how children used it to go to school, women to grocery shops, and men to a canteen; how sometimes they had to carry parcels and shopping bags across the path, and sometimes they would go over it for pleasure to meet their girlfriends that lived on the other side. This is how the path became the part of these people’s day-to-day pace and got attached to some of the most important moments of their lives.

Damage on the Trail and the Need for its Reconstruction

Little time ago, the trail was highly damaged. Natural circumstances and human actions brought it to a state of deplorable devastation.

El riesgo (11)It was impossible to use El Caminito del Rey and the connection between different villages disappeared as well as a part of the history of the villages from that area.

Repairs on the path El Caminito de Rey

Reconstruction of the trail is not only important because of tourist reasons and because it is an attraction for the visitors who come to the area of El Gaitanes, but also because it is a part of history and memories that belong to the people from this zone.

Therefore, the Málaga County Council in collaboration with the towns that the path goes through – Álora, Antequera and Ardales–, Andalusian Government and a few ministry departments, decided to start reconstruction works on the path. The contract was accepted in February 2014, which means that the works are going to start in 2015.