The Caminito del Rey hike is easily the most popular hike in Spain. Should you be exploring the region of Malaga and its province, you will surely want to visit picturesque towns and enjoy a day at the beach. But if you feel the need to get out of town and stretch your legs, the King’s Path (that’s how it is called in English) is guaranteed to fill your memories with incredible vistas and lots of adrenaline.
In this post, I will share all the essential details you need to prepare for your Caminito del Rey hike and how to make the most of it – in all safety!
Where Is El Caminito Del Rey?
El Caminito del Rey is essentially a walking pathway along the towering and steep walls of a narrow gorge in El Chorro, near Ardales in the Malaga province of Spain. Throughout the hike, you will be able to come across views of Desfiladero de Los Gaitanes, a gorge with 700-meter-high (that’s 2,297 feet) walls.
General Information About The Caminito Del Rey
Camino del Rey, also known as the King’s Walk or Pathway in Spain, is an 8-kilometer (about 5 miles) walking trail in Spain that should take about 3-4 hours to complete.
It was formerly known as the most dangerous hike in the world until it had repairs to make it tourist-friendly or, in other words, much safer. The walkway hovers over 100 meters (328 feet) from the ground along the large cliff face.
Despite its reputation, the Caminito del Rey offers breathtaking and picturesque views like no other. As you trek through this thrilling walkway, you will be going through cliffs, canyons, and a large valley.
In addition, you will also be coming across views of the infamous Desfiladero de Los Gaitanes gorge, shaped by the Guadalhorce river, with 700-meter-tall (that short of 3,000 feet!) walls.
What is nature without some wildlife? As you explore the walkway, you may find a wide array of species living in the surrounding area. If luck is on your side, you may be able to catch some wildlife in action, including griffon vultures, Egyptian vultures, golden eagles, wild boars, and even the Iberian ibex.
Is The Caminito Del Rey Dangerous?
Though it was nicknamed the most dangerous hike in the world back in the 1990s, rest assured, its safety measures have been reinforced with the renovations made by the Malaga and Andalusia government in 2015.
The walkway was finally reopened for the public, with reinforced railings with iron mesh, safety helmets, and guidelines were put in place for visitors to enjoy the hike without the fear of its past reputation. On top of the renovations, nowadays only 1100 visitors are allowed per day; and they are required to book their visit in advance.
Those who suffer from vertigo should reconsider before going as the walkway is 100 meters (328 feet) above the ground.
Caminito del Rey deaths and accidents
Due to the lack of maintenance since the 1920s and less-than-robust safety measures, there have been several accidents along the Caminito del Rey. Most of these accidents were due to landslides, weak safety measures, and a compromise in structural integrity where there were holes in the pathway.
There have been at least 5 reported Caminito del Rey deaths from 1993 to 2000. The first reported and known fatality was a 12-year old girl who unknowingly rushed and fell through a hole.
The last and most recent incident was a group of 3 friends who decided to try zip lining on the old and rusty iron cord as it was a popular thing to do for visitors at the time. One of them got stuck midway and had to use their arms to finish zip lining, but two of the other friends decided to join in, and unfortunately, the line wasn’t strong enough to hold the weight together and caused the cord to snap.
The Caminito Del Rey Hike
The entire Caminito del Rey hike only goes one way, which means you will have to take a shuttle bus if you want to go back to where you started. The hike starts in Ardales and finishes in the town of Alora. Officially, the hike starts at the control cabin and the Gaitanejo dam.
Keep in mind there are two trails taking you to the control cabin: The longer trail is about 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles) and starts off from Silicon del Rey, where you can find stone benches, a table, and chairs used by Alfonso XIII. The other path is shorter at only 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles), with a small walkable tunnel just 200 meters before the restaurant, which is located right by the parking lot where you can obviously park your car. This is a good place to grab a bite before the hike, or before you drive back.
Once you reach the control cabin, the staff will provide you some safety gear, including a helmet, and check if your shoes are suited for the hike.
The trail is primarily straight, going down from north to south along the mountains and across suspended walkways.
As you start walking, you will be trekking through the Gaitanejo gorge, the Tajo de las Palomas canyon, and the Puente del Rey suspending bridge. You will start to notice a gradual shift as you get closer to the Hoyo Valley, where you can spot ever-present lush greens.
You will then arrive at the Los Gaitanes gorge through the suspended walkway – the views along the way are simply spectacular. These include a one-hundred-year-old juniper tree, the infamous “fossil beach” crawled with Jurassic-period fossils, and a glass balcony that edges at the walkway for the thrill of a lifetime.
Finally, you will arrive back at the control cabin to return your safety helmets. If you traveled by train, there is a 2.1 km (1.3 miles) walking trail from the control cabin that should take you to El Chorro Station to return to Malaga.
Caminito del Rey Before and After Renovation
When the Caminito del Rey walkway was built from 1901 to 1905, the pathway was only 3 feet wide, with only thin, steel safety wire to protect hikers. It was previously used as a connecting path to two El Chorro hydroelectric plants. However, over the years, its structural integrity weakened and got compromised due to lack of usage, which led to a shutdown by the local councils back in 2000 – especially following 5 Caminito del Rey deaths between 1993 and 2000.
Eventually, the Malaga and Andalusia governments financed a staggering 2.7 million euro for renovation works back in 2015 to improve and reinforce the pathway’s integrity and safety measures.
The renovation consisted of an entirely new and wider path with steel and wired gates for visitors to trek through and was built above the original pathway. The staff will usually group walkers to 30-40 people per access.
Though Caminito del Rey has been fully renovated with upgraded safety measures, there are still some sections where you need to be extra cautious by going slow, minding your step, and follow the guide.
Practical Information For Your Caminito Del Rey Hike
How to get to the Caminito del Rey
El Caminito del Rey is reasonably accessible as there are two ways you can get there.
The easiest way to get to the Caminito del Rey is by car from Malaga. You can drive to either Ardales along road A-357. Once there, you need to exit and go towards El Chorro. It’s about a 50-minute journey. Once you get to the roundabout, follow the signs towards the Caminito del Rey Acceso Norte (North Entrance). You can park your car in the lot by the Restaurante El Kiosko, where you’ll also find the tunnel that leads to the beginning of the trail.
Another option is to take the Malaga-Seville train and get of at El-Chorro – Caminito del Rey station. At the time of writing, there are three daily departures from Malaga Maria Zambrano station to El Chorro – one at 8:58 am; one at 1:21 pm and one at 5:19 pm.
There are four daily departures from El Chorro to Malaga Maria Zambrano station. Trains depart at 9:23 am; 10:41 am; 1:51 pm and 9:07 pm. The ride takes about 40 minutes.
Train tickets cost €7 one-way and can be booked here.
Once you get to the station, you can hop on the shuttle bus that takes you to the beginning of the trail. The shuttle runs every 30 minutes from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm in the winter months, and 8:00 pm in the summer months. It costs about €2 one way.
Caminito Del Rey Opening Hours
Caminito del Rey is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm (though opening hours may vary depending on the season). It is closed on Mondays, and on special occasions, including January 1st, December 24th, 25th, and the 31st.
Caminito del Rey tickets
In order to get access to the Caminito del Rey, you need to get Caminito del Rey tickets in advance.This is because the walkway only allows 1100 visitors a day for safety reasons. You must have your Caminito del Rey tickets with you at all times throughout the hike, from the entrance to the exit.
Caminito del Rey tickets are €10; whereas if you want to join a guided group it costs €18. Tickets can be purchased on the official site. If tickets are sold out, you can try getting them on the same day of your visit in Álora or Ardales. Alternatively, you can join a guided tour (more about Caminito del Rey tours below).
Best Caminito Del Rey tours
If you’d rather join a guided tour to walk your Caminito del Rey hike, you can count on several options.
Of course, you can get a guide directly at the site, booking via the official website. In this case, you will have to make your way there independently. Alternatively, there are other good options.
If you prefer a private tour, click here.
For Caminito del Rey tours departing from El Chorro and that include the shuttle bus to the entrance, click here.
Caminito Del Rey Hike Safety Tips
Walking El Caminito del Rey is an absolute must when you visit Malaga, and it will give you a real adrenaline rush. With that in mind, and to ensure you make the most out of your experience and stay safe, here are some helpful tips on getting your way around the infamous walkway.
Ensure you’re wearing appropriate clothing and footwear. This may include hiking shoes, hiking insoles, sneakers with good-grip soles, a raincoat for cold seasons, and a sun hat or cap during hotter times of the year.
Prepare for the season. For hot summers, please use sunscreen to prevent sunburns from the scorching sun and a raincoat during the winter (umbrellas are prohibited throughout the walkway).
Use the toilet before you begin the hike. When nature calls at the starting point, listen to it. There will be no restrooms available throughout the hike.
Ensure your children are over 8 years old and are under your supervision. Trekking through the walkway with your loved ones will be an unforgettable experience. Still, although the path is safeguarded by the railing and a metal mesh, you must watch your step as well as your children’s.
As long as you follow these tips and the instructions told by the Caminito del Rey staff and guides, you should be good to go!
Can you visit Caminito del Rey with children?
Yes, as long as they are over 8 years old and are accompanied and supervised by parents. Please be advised that you are not allowed to carry your children in your arms for safety reasons.
Looking for more hikes in Spain? These posts may come in handy:
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- The Best Hikes In The Pyrenees
- The Best Hikes In Sierra Nevada
- The Best Hikes In Garrotxa
- The Best Hikes In Tenerife
- The Best Hikes In Lanzarote
- The Best Hikes In Gran Canaria