Caminito del Rey; ‘The Kings Pathway‘, traverses an immense gorge near Malaga in southern Spain. Named for the time a king walked it’s heights and once known as the most dangerous walkway in the world, it was closed in 2000 due to people dying while attempting to walk its crumbling, deteriorated precipice. Absolute madmen and women kept going there to illegally attempt the walk while it was closed, some dying in the process, until funding and refurbishment saw it open to the public once again in 2015 to enthusiastic support from hikers and climbers the world over.
I’m neither a hiker or a climber. Neither is Mrs. R&R. Caminito del Rey had captivated me years ago when I saw this video and couldn’t believe people were so willing to put themselves in such precarious situations. So when I heard it was refurbished and apparently safe, I set an alarm for the day they started selling tickets.
You need to get to Spain, preferably Málaga like we did as it’s the closest city to use as a base. You can also go to Seville but Málaga is closer.
Caminito del Rey is a one-way track beginning just outside of Ardales and ending in El Chorro, but you need to get to El Chorro to begin.
From Estación de Málaga María Zambrano you take the Málaga to El Chorro train, which is €12.70 and takes 42 minutes. We booked tickets on the day with no trouble. When you arrive at El Chorro there is a shuttle bus down the hill from the station which takes you to the start of the track near Ardales. This bus costs €1.55 and takes around 30 minutes.
I think you can get buses direct from Málaga to Ardales, although the info is limited, but to reach the entrance to Caminito del Rey still requires a 12km taxi ride. Get the train to El Chorro and use the shuttle bus.
Once you finish the walk you can get straight on the train back to Málaga or Seville. It’s worth noting here that trains don’t service these routes often, maybe two or three times a day, so go to the Renfe website before you travel and make sure you know your travel times.
Renting a car for this trip would be a good idea if you are planning to stay overnight in the area or continue on from there.
Check out the excellent Caminito del Rey website for more detailed info.
MASSIVE HINT – You can book Caminito del Rey tickets to enter the path from 09:00 but the first train from Málaga doesn’t depart until 10:00. Look at trains before you book your pathway tickets and if you are taking the first train don’t book tickets before 12:00!
You can find accommodation in El Chorro or Ardales but most people stay in Málaga or Seville and make a day trip to Caminito del Ray as we did. There aren’t any hostels I can find but you can book bnb’s in Ardales from €20 per night and hotels in both towns from €45 per night for a double room.
Be mindful of where you book accommodation in these towns as they are very small, you might find yourself staying in the countryside relying on taxis if you don’t have a car.
Although the website says booking is essential, in reality they are much more flexible. We couldn’t make our early time-slot but we sent them an email and they assured us we would be accepted at any time that day. In fact when we arrived some of the other guests hadn’t booked tickets at all and were able to buy them in person on-site. This is not to say you shouldn’t book ahead, as there will be a upper entry limit per day. Definitely book ahead. It would be a massive inconvenience to be turned away at the gate for some reason.
Even though you pre-book, your time-slot might not mean much once you get there as there is a limit to how many people can be on the path at once. Groups of roughly 15-20 people are ushered to the gate, given helmets, explained the rules, and depart as a group in 15 minute intervals. You might only have to wait 15 minutes so it’s not an issue.
Tickets are a measly €10 per adult; awesome value for the experience and the work that has gone into the project. They could easily charge twice as much and most other places would, which goes to show the kind of organisation you’re dealing with here.
The walk itself is a combination of beautiful forest and cliff-side boardwalks, beginning with stunning views and ending with dizzying heights. You spend about one to two hours (depending on your pace) walking through a forest along the river before you reach the boardwalk, and another hour on the 3km long boardwalk itself.
It’s worth it. There’s something special about walking on the side of a sheer cliff, 100m above a river, but Caminito del Rey is made even more special by being built on top of the old path; the visible remnants a reminder of those who came before and those who fell. As you walk you can see the dilapidated concrete and iron through the slats of new wood and imagine how terrifying it would have been to cross only a few years ago. There’s viewing platforms to make the knees wobble a little, a suspension bridge and some gut wrenching cliff-mounted stairs, but the main attraction here is the incredible scenery made possible only by this path.
The one slightly underwhelming aspect is that the new path is so…safe. Strong handrails run the entire length and some sections are entirely caged, taking away all but the faintest sense of danger and any thrill for the adrenaline junkie. Helmets protect from the possibility of falling rocks, but otherwise the experience was tamer than expected (although more spectacular to be fair). This isn’t a criticism of the re-build, they’ve done an unbelievable job and if it wasn’t so super safe we wouldn’t be visiting this gorgeous part of Spain at all. Maybe next time I’ll sky-dive to the start to get my kicks…
With journey time, transfers, wait time and the walk itself; plan a full day to visit Caminito del Rey. Take plenty of food and at least two litres of water per person. We visited at the start of July and it was 38°C, so prepare for the season, take adequate protection from the sun and seek shade often for rests. The walk is not difficult at all, anyone could manage it, but the heat is punishing in summer. Snacks and water are available at both ends of the path, and the café at the El Chorro train station serves cold beer.
Caminito del Rey;
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