Even if you are a little scared of heights, walking the Caminito del Rey is an experience not to be missed. It’s one of the best day trips available in Andalucía and is fast becoming one of the most popular excursions in Spain.
This unique experience is set amongst the amazing natural beauty of a mountain range in Málaga. To be honest, I was a little scared when we first booked our tickets. But as soon as I started the walk I was glad to be there.
I will share all the info I learned about the path and give some insight into what walking the Caminito del Rey is like.
What is the Caminito del Rey?
The Caminito del Rey is a man-made walkway along a steep, narrow gorge in Southern Spain. One hundred metres above the river, a wooden path is securely pinned to the side of the mountain. The path is just 1 metre wide and quite scary in places. However, it is now very safe and well maintained.
Built in the early 1900s, the path was originally an access way for workers to get to the hydroelectric powerplant that sits at the end of the gorge. Also, it was an easy-access way for local people to get from one side of the gorge to the other. The path was made of concrete on steel rails and used by many villagers on a day-to-day basis. In 1921 King Alfonso XIII visited the official opening of the new gorge dam. It is said that the King was amazed by the walkway and its views. From then on, the path was known by its current name, which translates into English “the Kings little walkway” and opened for public access.
Over the years conditions on the path deteriorated. Sadly, in 1999 and 2000 there were two fatal, tragic accidents and the path closed. During the closure, people would somehow still find a way to get in and climb even though it was treacherous. The walk subsequently became known as one of the most dangerous in the World. Mostly only experienced climbers would attempt the walk at this time. As it was necessary to use climbing gear, leap over gaps and balance carefully along broken paths.
In 2011 the local government decided to restore the Caminito del Rey and invested €9 million into the project. It took over 3 years to rebuilt and the walkway reopened in March 2015.
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What is the Caminito del Rey like?
Walking the path is easy but it is a long-distance and some would class it as a hike so you must be prepared and fairly fit. It’s worth noting that to get to the start of the Caminito you have to walk 1.5-2 km from the parking area. There are two options and the quickest route takes you via a long, dark, narrow tunnel that goes through the rock face. It’s perfectly safe but maybe not suitable for those with any fear of small spaces and it’s a good idea to carry a torch.
At the ticket office, you will be given a hair net and hard-hat to wear. Then allowed access in small groups of 20-30 people spaced about 15-30 minutes apart. The Caminito is just under 8km long and goes only in one direction. It should take about 3-4 hours to walk with breaks to take photos, enjoy the views, eat snacks or drink water. It’s a natural attraction and perfect for those who love walking, enjoy hiking nature trails and exploring natural scenery. It’s not suitable for children or the elderly, anyone afraid of heights, prone to dizzy spells or those with mobility issues. There are many steps and a large section in the middle where you walk on the mountainside through a forest path. There are no food, drink or toilet facilities along the route itself.
Is walking the Caminito del Rey scary?
The wooden path is very solid and feels secure with a strong, waist-height fence along the walkway. It’s only 1 metre in width but with access to the Caminito restricted, it doesn’t feel too crowded. Plus everyone is walking in the same direction and there are quite strict rules, so no excuse to act stupidly. There are rope handrails on the cliffside if you feel a little wobbly but it’s worth going to the edge to look down over the fence if you can. Security staff are stationed along the route to keep an eye on everyone and help out if you should need them.
The scariest part of the route for me was towards the end when the path is at its highest. However, even though I felt scared I was quite distracted by the gorgeous views and felt very safe on the walkway. There is a small glass platform at the end which I even managed to step out onto. At the very end of the path, you cross a suspension bridge to gain access to the exit steps on the other side. The bridge crossing was the hardest part as the bridge does move slightly and feels rather exposed. I just walked across as fast as I could at that point and didn’t look down. After, I felt a real sense of accomplishment when I looked back through the gorge at how far and how high I had walked.
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What are the Caminito del Rey views like?
The views on the Caminito del Rey are spectacular. You are entirely surrounded by nature and it’s amazing. You can see no roads, houses or hear any normal day-to-day noises. The only disturbance might come from a train that passes through the gorge 2-3 times per day.
The way the light falls into the gorge is beautiful. Sunlight glistens on the green river water below and creates a golden glow on the rock above. The sheer vastness of the mountainside is breathtaking and mid-way the walk goes around a dense green forest. Look out for roaming wildlife like goats and wild boar who like to forage on the mountainside of the gorge. There are also vultures nesting high above the walkway plus interesting native trees and plants.
Try to spot the old derelict houses that sit in the valley. There was once a thriving community living in the gorge but over time people moved away. There are sections of the original path running underneath the new and its really interesting to imagine locals walking that path for day-to-day use. You can also see how narrow and fragile that old path now looks in comparison.
My top tips for walking the Caminito del Rey
- Wear light layers that can protect you from the sun and wind
- Wear comfortable trainers as it’s a long walk
- Pack a small backpack with water, sunscreen, sunglasses, snacks, camera
- Take time to enjoy the views and take photos
- Always stop where it’s safe and don’t block the walkway
- There are no bins so keep all rubbish with you and dispose of it at the end
- This walk is not really suitable for children under 12 and children under 8 years are not permitted access
- There is a small café at the start and end of the walk
- Make sure you use the toilet at the ticket office as there are no toilets along the walk
- The path is closed on Mondays
- The path might be closed if there is heavy rain or strong winds
Tickets and getting to the Caminito del Rey
It’s best to book tickets for the Caminito del Rey in advance as only a certain number are issued per day. On your ticket is an allocated time slot which you must stick to. Also, the ticket includes insurance cover and should be carried with you at all times. Make sure you allow enough time to walk from the bus and car parking area to be at the ticket gate 30 minutes before your time slot.
There are a few options for getting to the Caminito del Rey, some with ticket entrance included:
With an organised excursion company
We opted for a local guided tour to the Caminito del Rey booked through Get Your Guide. As this was the easier option for travel from our location East of Malaga. There are a few different pick-up points available along the coast or from Malaga city. Our guide was lovely and gave lots of local info during the journey, the coach was nice and comfortable but we did stop multiple times to pick up other people. Tour prices start from €25 and the Get Your Guide booking app was very easy to use.
Using public transport
This option takes a little more planning but there is a great value combination ticket from Malaga that gives you train, bus and Caminito access ticket for €23 without a guide. Get more info on booking this special public transport ticket here. You don’t really need a guide to take you on the walk as you can’t get lost on this hike and there are staff posted along the route if you need help. Make sure you check train times and know where you need to be and at what time.
Or you can drive yourself to the Caminito in El Chorro. This gives you more freedom and the views on the drive are wonderful. From Málaga City, take the A–357 motorway and go towards the MA-5403, through the towns of Cártama, Pizarra, Carratraca, Ardales and head towards the reservoirs of El Chorro. The drive is just over 50 minutes and the road will be narrow and winding in places. Follow signs to the car park, leave your car there and continue on foot, following the signs to the ticket entrance. At the end of the walk, a shuttle bus runs every 30 minutes and will take you back to the car park for €1.55. Don’t forget to book your entrance tickets if you drive yourself. Tickets are just €10 without a guide and can be booked directly from the official Caminito del Rey website.
I hope this info has answered some of your questions about walking the Caminito del Rey in Malaga and inspired you to give it a go! If you have been to this iconic site share your experience with us in the comments box below ↓↓
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