ACTING president Mariano Rajoy hopes to tackle Spain's scariest footpath, the Caminito del Rey, in the next few weeks – a walkway attached to a cliff with a sheer drop of hundreds of metres down one side.
A keen hiker, Rajoy is looking to get there on or before the end of March when the Málaga province mountain trail celebrates its first anniversary of reopening after 15 years in disuse.
The pathway was so dangerous that it was out of bounds – slats missing in the suspended walkway, rotting wood which could give way at any second, and sections with no foot platform at all meaning
visitors would have needed to cling to the rocks up to a quarter of a mile above ground led to the Caminito del Rey being shut in 1999.
Its former state is shown in the photo, and did not stop hikers from tackling the route until they were forced to abandon it just before the millennium.
But extensive repairs, including a perspex barrier between walkers and the drop – which some thrill-seekers believe takes away some of the adventure – means the Caminito was able to open 10 months ago.
Since then, it has seen 300,000 visitors, of whom seven in 10 were Spanish, meaning it is well on the way to recovering the €2.7 million spent on renovations.
This has been enough effort to win the provincial council, or Diputación de Málaga the Tourism Merit in Emerging Destinations Award, presented by Rajoy and his acting minister for industry José Manuel Soria.
Not only has the Caminito seen daily hordes of daring walkers since last March, but hotels and restaurants are now springing up in the area – and the Diputación predicts the economic injection for the Costa del Sol by the first-year anniversary will be around €40m, or nearly 20 times the money spent on repairs.
Rajoy has asked the Diputación chairman to 'find a window in his diary' for him to visit and walk the 7.5 kilometres on the cliff-face.
At its lowest part, the Caminito stands 100 metres above sea-level, meaning Rajoy really will be living on the edge – and not just in his political career.
But the president is fighting-fit and a sports fan – practically every morning, he goes out for a run, and he and his wife Elvira enjoy cycling in their spare time.