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Summer tickets for 'Spain's scariest hike' selling out fast
IF YOU'RE a daredevil with a head for heights, hiking along the treacherous Caminito del Rey in the province of Málaga is the ultimate challenge this summer – but tickets are selling out fast.
The management put 100,000 tickets on sale a month ago for dates in July, August and September, at daily slots of roughly 30 minutes apart and have already shifted between half and two-thirds of these.
Between 200 and 450 a day are still available, with 'free entry' tickets at €10 a head for those who want to explore in their own time being snapped up the fastest, ahead of the €18 tickets for guided tours, which run in parallel format in Spanish and English.
Nestled between the three towns of Álora, Antequera and Ardales but mostly in the first of these, the stunning, dramatic river Guadalhorce canyon is the site of what was once described as the most dangerous footpath in Spain – but having reopened in March 2015 to tourists after extensive works, it now no longer holds this dubious honour.
It is in fact pretty safe, but does not exactly feel that way for anyone with vertigo – although for those who are not bothered about being up high, the views are spectacular and the rock formations are mind-blowing.
An eight-kilometre track through three canyons of the Los Gaitanes abyss, the name of the Caminito del Rey translates as 'King's Walkway', but it nearly became the 'President's Walkway' when former national leader Mariano Rajoy, a keen rambler, announced plans to give it a go once it reopened.
He is not known to have done so yet, but probably due to lack of time since he has only been out of office since last June and spent the summer starting work in his old job as a property registrar.
The walkway in question is literally suspended in the air – a wooden footbridge along the side of the cliff, albeit with a transparent safety screen on the side of the drop to prevent visitors falling off if they trip over, given that a plunge off this popular path would be practically impossible to survive.
It is about a metre (3'3”) wide, and hangs above a sheer drop of 105 metres (over 344 feet), and takes around three to four hours to cover.
Over 1.2 million tourists, six in 10 of whom are foreign, and 116 nationalities have visited the Caminito del Rey since it reopened four years ago.
It is only shut to visitors on Mondays, with weekends and bank holidays being the busiest times and no more than 1,100 hikers allowed per day, and slots are available from 09.30 to 17.00.
According to the management, last year, 6,000 tickets flew off the shelves in the first 24 hours after they were put on sale for the summer months, and a similar figure over the following two days.
For this reason, they advise booking as far in advance as possible, especially for those who want to opt for the more comfortable times of day during the hottest part of the year – before noon, given that the sweltering heat which kicks in at around 13.00 or 14.00 reaches a peak by 17.00 or 18.00 and does not start to cool down until about 19.00 or 20.00 at the earliest.
More information about the route, including ticket-buying, can be found on Caminitodelrey.info, and is available in Spanish, English, French or German.
The photograph showing the hanging walkway was taken by the Costa del Sol tourist board.
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