Day 37: Caminito Del Rey & Colomares Castle

Summary

We drove north east to  visit Caminito de Rey and then south east to Colomare Monument. At Caminito de Rey we joined a 8 km guided walk through an  incredible beautiful gorge of the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, where the only walking route was narrow boardwalk hanging midway on sheer cliff more than 100 m above Guadalhorce River.

The visit to Caminito de Rey took up most of the day so by the time we reached our second destination Colomares Castle it was already 5 pm. Colomares Castle was a beautiful/intricate monument in  Benalmádena Pueblo (Old town of Benalmadena). Coincidentally it was closed on Tuesday (every Tuesday) which was the day we arrived at its gate. Fortunately our stay of the night was in the same old town so we defered our visit to Colomares Monument till the next morning.

Route from Ronda to Caminito del Rey & Colomares

Route from Ronda to Caminito del Rey & Colomares

Caminito Del Rey

Caminito Del Rey was about an hour drive from Ronda and the distance was 58 km.  We left Ronda at about 10.00 to give us plentiful of time to reach the meeting point at Caminito De Rey in time for our guided walk at 12.45 pm. The drive was very uneventful until we reached Desfiladero de los Gaitanes area and when its reservoirs came into view.

Scenery during the drive (top), Guadatelba Reservoir (bottom)

Scenery during the drive (top), Guadatelba Reservoir (bottom)

Our destination was the “north parking” but when we arrived it was full. We asked a staff at the kiosk near the entrance for direction to other parking. He told us to drive forward for about 70 m and once we saw Restaurante El Mirador Ardales to look for a left turn up a slope and there would be more parking spaces there.

Map around Caminito del Rey

Map around Caminito del Rey

Based on the given instruction we found the parking very easily and there were already several cars there. Best of all the parking here was free of charge! Once parked we took a walk down the slope and reached Restaurante El Mirador Ardales in a couple of minutes.

Parking near Restaurante El Mirador Ardales

Parking near Restaurante El Mirador Ardales

Soon we walked past “North Parking” and continued walking forward (north). There were two routes that led to the control point/reception area where we were meeting our guide for the guided-walk.  One was a longer route  (2.7 km) starting beside Restaurant El Kiosko which was about  400 m north of “North Parking” and the second route was shorter (1.5 km) and was located midway between “North Parking” and Restaurant El Kiosko.

On the way to start of the shorter route

On the way to start of the shorter route

We were supposed to look for a tunnel which was a shortcut to the other side of the hill. We found the tunnel and it was smaller than we expected. If not for the sign outside the start of the tunnel we would not think that it was the right tunnel.

Tunnel start to the 1.5 km route to the control center

Tunnel start to the 1.5 km route to the control center

It was about noon so the 1.5 km trekking to the control point was hot and dusty. After exiting the end of the tunnel we continued our walk down a path. Occassionally we saw a directional sign so we knew we were going in the right direction. It was assuring to see a couple of people heading in the same direction as us.

Walking to the control point

Walking to the control point

As we walked towards the control point we past through a tunnel in a rock hill. This rock hill had a number of big holes  which looked like natural formation and not human’s work. We also saw a huge cliff wall with what seemed like a semi circle arch craving on its face. This was the Gothic Arch and the “carving” was another natural formation.

Tatoni caves and Gothic Arch

Tatoni caves and Gothic Arch

We reached the control point at 12 noon and there were many visitors already waiting before the control point. There was a small building which housed a male and a female toilets and a couple of vending machines. It was the only building where visitors could sit and hide from the blazing sun but due to the limited space many of us had to stand in the sun.

Last toilet before the guided tour

Last toilet before the guided tour

We showed our tickets to a staff at the control point kiosk and were told to wait till 12.45 pm which was the time-start of our guided walk. Our guided walk did not start on time, but about 10 minutes late. Our guide issued to each of us a wireless audio receiver with a earpiece and a helmet. This would allow us to hear the guide’s instruction and explanation clearly.

Our guide giving us instruction

Our guide giving us instruction

There was about 14 of us in the group. We had all bought our tickets in advance as no tickets were sold at the control point/reception. Tickets could be bought online at Caminito Del Rey website  ( http://www.caminitodelrey.info/ ).

On the website there were three months of tickets available for booking and they were very quick  taken up. We had bought our tickets online three months ago. The ticket for self exploration was €10 per person and for guided-walk was €18 per person. The bus trip for those that required to go back to the start where their cars were parked was €1.55 per person.

Caminito del Ray boardwalk

Caminito del Ray boardwalk

The walkway was first built to provide workers at the hydroelectric power plants at Chorro Falls and Gaitanejo Falls to cross between them, to transport materials and to facilitate inspection and maintenance of the channel.  The name of the walk was given after King Alfonso XII crossed the walkway in 1921 for the inauguration of the dam. Caminito Del Ray meant the “King’s pathway”

Caminito Del Ray cliff walk

Caminito Del Ray cliff walk

The walkway had fallen into disrepair and was partially closed for over a decade. After four years of extensive repairs and renovations, the walkway re-opened in 2015. It has been known in the past as the “world’s most dangerous walkway” following five deaths in 1999 and 2000.  

Caminito Del Rey

Caminito Del Rey

It was amazing to walk on boardwalk that hung 100 m above the rushing river midway up the sheer cliff wall. The cliff walls were fascinating, some rose as high at 600m tall. After two hours of trekking through the gorge we reached the end of our guided walk and baded “goodbye” to our guide goodbye near the exit.

Caminito Del Rey

Caminito Del Rey

Unfortunately it was still not the end of walking for us. We still had to walk for another 1 km to a bus stop where we boarded a bus. It transferred us to a stop at Restaurant El Kiosko. From the restaurant was another 600 m walk to where we had parked our car!

We were so tired and the weather was so hot and we needed a long break before driving off. We went into Restuarante el Mirador which was near our parking. Like the name of the restaurant it did indeed had beautiful view.

Restuarante el Mirador

Restuarante el Mirador

Colomares castle

We left Caminito Del Rey at about 4 pm driving for an hour to Colomares Castle. The distance was 75 km and we arrived outside the monument gate at about 5 pm.

Route to Monument Colomares

Route to Monument Colomares

Colormares castle daily operation time was 10 am to 6 pm. In summer it opened at night too. It was not a huge place so we gave ourselves one hour to explore. When we reached the castle we found a parking pretty near so we parked and walked to the castle gate. The castle gate was closed and we could not find a door that allowed us to get in. We peeked though the gate and saw no human presence anywhere in the castle compound. After searching around the entrance we saw a sign that stated that the castle was close every Tueday. Oh dear today was Tuesday! We would have to come back the next morning at 10 am.

Parking near the entrance of Colomares Castle

Parking near the entrance of Colomares Castle

The next morning we were back at the gate of Colomares Castle. We parked at the same parking where we had parked the evening before and walked to the gate entrance which was only 50 m away. The entrance fee was €2 per person.

Entrance to Colomares Castle

Entrance to Colomares Castle

Colomares Castle was a very beautiful castle in the artistic sense. It was not a castle for “staying” it was a castle built to commerate Christopher Columbus discovery of the new world. The castle structure from a certain angle was that of a ship.

Colomares Castle

Colomares Castle

The castle and its ground was not large so it did not take long to walk through them.  It was definitely very beautiful, a bit of a fairy tale castle. The monument was built by Doctor Esteban Martin y Martin with the help of builders between 1987 to 1994. The castle paid homage to three religions (Christain, Arabic and Jewish) incorporating traces of their architectures into the construction of the castle.  These three religions co-existed in Spain during the period when Colobus made his discovery.

Colomares Castle

Colomares Castle

Benalmadena Pueblo

On the first evening after we found that Colomares Castle was closed we still managed to get a view of the castle from Jardines del Muro. Jardines del Muro was a garden in the old town of Benalmádena Pueblo less than a km away. From the castle gate we drove toward the town for about 400 m to an elevator that would bring us up to the garden.  Unfortunately the parking beside the elevator was full. So we had to drove on. 

Map around Benalmadena Pueblo

Map around Benalmadena Pueblo

We drove into the old town, Benalmádena Pueblo, and looped around looking for a place to park our car. Finally we found a street parking  and it was free. We were not particularly looking for free parking but just somewhere to park before walking to the garden.

It was a 400 m walk to Jardines de Muro. The walk was very pleasant especially when the weather was less hot now. The village had retained the ambience of a sleepy white Andalusian village.  It was 280 m above sea level. The old village/town was a maze of narrow cobble streets and whitewashed houses.

The streets of Benalmadena Pueblo

The streets of Benalmadena Pueblo

Near the garden, Jardines del Muro was a small church, Iglesia de Santo Domingo de Guzmán. It was the oldest church in the municipality of Benalmadena. Near the church was the elevator exit, the same elevator that we were trying to use earlier on but had to abandon as we could not find a place in the vicinity to park our car.

Iglesia de Santo Domingo de Guzmán

Iglesia de Santo Domingo de Guzmán

We reached the garden at about 5.30 pm and started our exploration. We were at the garden not to enjoy to flowers or the landscaping, we were there because this garden was located at a high vantage viewpoint from which we could see most of the coast. The panoramic view of the coast and Colomares Castle was indeed lovely. Colomares castle looked interesting, it did not looked like a typical castle, it looked very ornamented.

View of the coast and Colomares Castle from the garden

View of the coast and Colomares Castle from the garden

Looking at the google map we found that the place we parked our was just 120 m from our “stay” in the old town. Great! we needed not go searching for another parking place so we left our car there overnight.

In the evening near to 8 pm, we went in search of a restaurant listed with “5 stars” rating on google map. We walked to one that was nearest to our “stay”. Unfortunately we were turned away as we did not have advance booking and the restaurant were fully booked! We went on to the second one and it was the same “story” and the third one told us that they had places for 10 pm dinner which was too late for us.

We gave up looking for “5 stars” rating restaurant and went into a restaurant that seemed to look nice and had empty tables.

Dinner at El Parador

Dinner at El Parador

At Restaurante El Parador we sat at its outdoor area to have our dinner and watch the people go by. Though it did not have “5-stars” rating we were okay with its food and desert. The bill came up to €27.20.

Our stay

Our “stay” at Benalmádena Pueblo was “La Posada Hotel” which we booked on booking.com. The cost of a double room with breakfast was €62 per night. There was no parking on site but we understood from our host that there were parkings in the vicinity at a charge. 

We managed to find free street parking (co-ordinate : 36.595848, -4.572674) just 120 m from La Posada Hotel. Fantastic we grabbed our overnight bags and walked towards our “stay”. La Posada Hotel was two streets down. It was located on a delightful pedestrian street with white houses with flowered balconies on both sides. 

La Posada Hotel entrance

La Posada Hotel entrance

We reached the opened entrance of La Posada Hotel and walked in. There was nobody at the reception counter and we could not check in. We saw a sign on the counter and stated on it was to go to another hotel, Hotel La Fonda de Benalmádena for check-in process. Oh Dear! Hotel La Fonda de Benalmádena was 160 m from Hotel Posada! On the sign there was not even a phone number to call.

It was so annoying! We earlier had walked past “Hotel La Fonda de Benalmadena” on our way from Jardines del Muro to our car. If we had been informed upfront via email we would have went into “Hotel La Fonda de Benalmadena” to pick up our key!

It was weird to have the hotel door entrance opened wide and no hotel staff around at all.  The courtyard was cool and clean and our double room was on the 2nd level. We wonder if we were the only people in the hotel?

La Posada Hotel courtyard

La Posada Hotel courtyard

Our room was quite nice and clean. It has a balcony that looked out into the pretty pedestrian street below. It was definitely a cosy room. Our room at La Posada Hotel

Our room at La Posada HotelThe ensuite toilet was big and clean.

Ensuite Toilet

Ensuite Toilet

The next day we had our breakfast in the dining room on the first level. The breakfast was typical Spanish breakfast. Quite nice.

Nice breakfast at La Posada

Nice breakfast at La Posada

We liked La Posada for its quiet location on a lovely pedestrian street and its proximity to nearby cafes and restaurants.  We liked the room, the free street parking nearby and breakfast. Our only issue was that the reception was not manned and there was no contact number to request for assistance. When we found that our TV remote controller was not working as it did not have any battery inside we had nobody to turn to for help so we could not watch any TV programme for the whole stay!

Accommodations: BENALMADENA PUEBLO

Booking.com

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