“Careful on that one,” my partner shouts from far below “it’s quite wobbly”. Gingerly, I put one foot on the ‘wobbly’ step. I dare not put my whole-body weight onto the creaking metal step sticking out of the crumbling cliff. Looking down, I saw how far I would fall if this old step was to fail me. I questioned as to why we had decided to spontaneously climb down this secret via ferrata during our trip to Ronda.
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Our trip to Ronda in Andalusia had started as most other visits to this famous hillside town start. We walked to the new bridge, took plenty of photos, enjoyed a tasty vegan meal and then went back to the bridge to walk down the gorge.
The best views of the new bridge in Ronda are found from the West side of the bridge. You can see the bridge from dedicated view points above this Spanish monument. Yet to truly appreciate the sheer size of this architectural beauty, you should venture down into the gorge. One of the most fun and adventurous ways to do this is by Ronda’s secret via ferrata
Here is the guide to finding Ronda’s secret via ferrata and going down into the Tajo gorge.
- What is a Via Ferrata?
- How to find the start of the secret Via Ferrata in Ronda
- The view of Ronda Bridge from the Via Ferrata
- What footwear should you wear?
- Is it safe?
- Can I take a guided tour of the Secret Via Ferrata in Ronda?
- Exploring the base of the Tajo canyon beneath the Ronda bridge
- How do I get back into the town of Ronda?
What is a Via Ferrata?
A via ferrata is climbing route which can consist of metal steps, ladders and bridges fixed into the rock. The word via ferrata is an Italian term which means iron path. The word is both a verb and a noun describing the activity and the path itself. Via ferratas started appearing during World War I when troops needed to get through the Dolomite mountains in northeastern Italy. Via ferratas are particular popular in Alpine regions and are known as Kletterstiege in Austria. Yet you can also find them in other parts of Europe such as in Ronda in Spain.
Via ferratas enable hikers to ascend or descend steep rock faces with minimal equipment. Caution and a common-sense assessment of your abilities are recquired at all times. Before attempting a via ferrata assess your surroundings such as the weather.
Adventourous travellers will enjoy exploring a via ferrata!
How to find the start of the secret Via Ferrata in Ronda
From the centre of the town of Ronda you need to walk over the New Bridge. From there, turn right onto Calle Tenorio towards the viewpoint on Maria Auxiliadora square (Mirador de María Auxiliadora). From the Plaza you will see a dusty path heading into the Tajo gorge. Follow the well-kept path which leads to the first dusty viewpoint. A few balancing rocks and a non-descript platform allow visitors to take plenty of insta-worthy photos of the New Bridge in Ronda. This viewpoint is known simply as Mirador puente nuevo de Ronda (view of the new bridge of Ronda).
After admiring the views, look down and see if you can spot a metal railing sticking out of the rocks. Upon further inspection you will see more metal handles hammered into the cliffside. This is the start of Ronda’s secret Via Ferreta. Who knew that in the shadow of the new bridge in Ronda was a Via Ferreta Staircase? A vertical climb next to this Spanish monument. If you have not managed to spot them, they are opposite the large boulder which tourists enjoy posing on.
When we saw the steps, my partner jokes that of course we won’t do it, yet the adventurous part of me felt an unexplainable urge to explore this route. Of course, my adventurous self wholeheartedly puts its trust into a rusty staircase we knew nothing about. Dressed in sandals and a long dress I grin at my partner. He looks partly surprised yet ecstatic. In a very lady-like fashion I begin to tuck my dress into my pants. Let’s take on the secret Via Ferreta by Ronda’s new bridge.
WARNING: we do not recommend attempting a via ferrata in a dress and sandals! Those that do so, do so at their own risk.
Going down Ronda’s secret Via Ferrata
As you begin to go down Ronda’s secret via ferrata, take your time. My partner went first, testing the different rungs of the ladder. The first part is easy. We use the metal cord to ease ourselves onto the first metal steps. It seems sturdy enough. Whilst all the other tourists are using the main dusty paths, we have this vertical path completely to ourselves. Our only companions are bugs and spiders that cling like the railings to the Ronda cliff side.
Happy that most of our climb down into the gorge was in the shade we continue our descent.
Unsure of how far our via ferrata went we just continued downwards. Most of the steps were fairly sturdy. Some however were not. Whether they were groaning after not being used for a while, bending in the heat or whether the dry soil was eroding, a few of the steps were best not lingering upon. My partner would warn me after a particularly wobbly step. Or occasionally he would shout up with “there is a big step between the next two” or “this bit is cool as it goes around the corner”. It was really cool. There were sections which were straight forward ladders. Then there were sections which did curve around the cliff side. All the time we could see the boring path in the distance and the roaring waterfall under the spectacular New bridge of Ronda.
The view of Ronda Bridge from the Via Ferrata
The view of the New Bridge in Ronda from the via ferrrata was certainly not one that most tourists see during their visit! It was an incredible feeling scaling the cliff side. It makes you appreciate how difficult it must have been to build the New bridge and how tall the New bridge in Ronda really is. Adventurous travellers will love this view of Ronda’s new bridge from the secret via ferratta.
Is it safe to ascend the Secret Via Ferrata in Ronda?
As with many adventurous outdoor activities you know that there is a certain risk involved. I myself am someone who is not keen on heights and if that sounds like you too, I would simply advise just focusing on your next step. If there is a more difficult section just keep calm and don’t look down. Some of the gaps between the steps were large and I was grateful that I was tall enough to step down to some of them.
What should you wear on the Secret Via Ferrata in Ronda?
At the bottom of the via ferrata in Ronda there is a sign. It simply said ‘equipmentos’. I assume that was referring to wearing harnesses and using carabiners which should be used when attempting this via ferreta in Ronda. Wearing a long dress and sandals is most probably not advised as suitable climbing gear…
Can I take a guided tour on this Via Ferrata?
If you do not fancy tackling this via ferrata in Ronda by yourself, we later discovered that there are several tours available. These tours will also equip you with the right gear for the via ferrata…
Exploring the base of the Tajo canyon beneath the Ronda bridge
Hot from your climb down the via ferrata, the cool turquoise waters of the river Guadolevin will invite you to continue downwards. We followed an over-grown dirt path to the bottom of the gorge. A few trees tried to block us, but we overcame the leafy obstacles. The last few steps to the bottom of the gorge are aided by a handy rope and another ladder. Yet is it worth climbing down the via ferrata in Ronda to explore the Tajo Gorge?
The base of the gorge is a secret tropical paradise. Whitewashed stones next to clear, cool waters. No one else was here.
We kicked ourselves that we had not brought swimming gear. Yet we still enjoyed the crystal waters. My hands were filthy from the ladder and dirt path. I washed away all the dust and let out a happy sigh. We looked up and could see the New bridge. It towered so high above us that we could no longer see the many tourists snapping away. Sadly, we had too little time to spend too long in this secret place. We scaled some of the rocks admiring the little rock pools and gurgling waterfalls. The water was so clear and so beautiful. Sun light danced upon the ripples without a care in the world.
Worried about catching our bus to Malaga, I headed back up the dirt path with our rucksack and camera gear. Yet for the more adventurous, those who still have energy or those who have more time make sure you continue to the waterfall pool. Alex raced across to get close to the Ronda waterfall. He clambered over more rocks and streams. He shuffled over tricky sections, anxious not to get his shoes wet, to reach the bottom of the Ronda waterfall. From afar the waterfall looks impressive but from up close you see how tall this water feature is. The waterfall is not overpowering like the waterfalls in northern Thailand during the monsoon season. This waterfall is a majestic beauty. It cascades into the turquoise pool beneath with grace. What a wonderful place this would be to swim on a hot summer’s day.
Getting back up into the town of Ronda
You will probably not want to go back up to the town of Ronda the same way you came down. Carry on back up the dirt path until you reach the base of the base of the secret via ferrata. I decided that whilst it had been an incredible experience to scale down the cliff on the Ronda via ferrata I would ascend using the more well-trodden tourist path. Carry on up the dirt path. After a few minutes, you will see another path heading downwards which is much less overgrown. Carry on straight and a few minutes you will reach the remains of an old gate. I stood in the shade of the gate and looked back out at the view.
The entire gorge and the New bridge were bathed in the afternoon sun. The scene looked like something out of Lord of the Rings. Maybe Rivendale was inspired by this spot?
What I also noticed were little metal steps sticking out of the Andalusian hill. I was happy we had not seen this beforehand as we would never have attempted the via ferrata! Seemingly hundreds of black rods were dotted onto a vertical cliff. Surely, no one would go on such a route without the proper equipment!
I waited at this incredible view point for Alex to catch me up. He came panting up the hill side after a while. His eyes were greedy for the bottle of luke warm water I held outstretched for him. Once he had caught his breath I pointed to the via ferreta.
“We did that” I said. He smiled and gave me a sweaty hug. “Yes, we did” he replied and grinned.
After our adventure we had to run back up into the town. Whilst we really wanted a vegan ice cream we had to hurry to catch our bus to Malaga. We had thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Ronda though and finding the via ferrata in Ronda was one of the highlights of our trip in Andalusia. Visting Ronda is one of the top things to do in Spain!
If you are adventurous, love a good adrenaline rush and are looking for a unique experience in Ronda try the secret Via Ferrata. At the first view point look out for the metal steps on the cliff side. It does not take long to complete and takes you almost completely down to the base of the gorge. Most of the steps are very secure. Of course, we would recommend sturdy shoes and a good head for heights. A harness would help too… This hike is best done in the afternoon when you can see the New bridge in Ronda illuminated by the Andalusican sun.
Would you try the secret via ferrata in Ronda?
Would you dare to climb down the secret via feratta in Ronda? Let us know in the comments below!