The Caminito del Rey is only a 40-minute train ride away from Malaga (50 minutes if you drive) and it’s one of the day trips that you should include in your travel schedule!
You’ll feel a bit Indiana Jones when you cross this incredible path built along the walls of the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, suspended more than 100 meters above the Guadalhorce River. The scenery is breathtaking but if you suffer from vertigo I suggest you limit yourself to just reading the post, better not to risk it!
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The most dangerous route in the world
For years it was considered the most dangerous route in the world, gaining this sad reputation because of the adventurous hikers who lost their lives there; the numerous incidents prompted the authorities to close access in 1999 and 2000 and to establish very high fines for those who entered illegally. Since then an impressive restoration and safety plan has been put in place and finally in 2015 the Caminito del Rey was safely reopened and made accessible. A new walkway runs at the top of the original route and in some sections you can see the original construction (incredibly narrow to hard to cross!)
History of Caminito del Rey in pills
The Caminito del Rey was born in the early 1900s, to allow maintenance of the 2 hydroelectric plants located at 2 ends of the Chorro Gorge. Initially the route was called Los Balcones, and, in fact, it was concrete platforms a few tens of centimeters, small balconies that emerged from the stone walls overlooking the Canion.
The name by which the trail became popular is attributed to King Alfonso XIII who visited the plants in 1921 and officially inaugurated the El Chorro Dam. He walked the path that impressed him so much that he ordered that a commemorative plaque be placed to pay homage to the work of the engineer Rafael Benjumea, creator of the route.
The Caminito de Rey: how to book
The entrance ticket to the Caminito can be bought online, in high attendance periods you need to check the available times in advance. Also know that children under 8 are not allowed.
The cost of the ticket is 10 euros or 18 euros with guided tour (organized in Spanish or In English, in groups of about 25 people); guides are generally locals.
I have opted for entrance and guided tour, it is up to you to choose the option that suits your needs best.
The guide that accompanied us was very helpful to answer all our questions and gave us historical, geological information and made the walk even more interesting, so I would recommend this option.
The Caminito del Rey today, how to get there
It is very important to know that the Caminito is a linear route, not circular, and you can only travel in one direction, from Ardales (North entrance), arriving to the south, El Chorro (Alora).
I went there by train from Maria-Zambrano station to El Chorro station and bought tickets online on the renfe website (A/R ticket cost 10 euros). I advise you to buy only the round trip and check the times for the return because the duration of the walk can vary.
If you’re self-employed and leave Malaga, just take the A-357 to MA-5403, passing through the towns of Cartama, Pizarra, Carratraca and Ardales. It’s about 60 kilometers and you can travel in 50 minutes. In Pizarra you can also take the road to Lyra and continue to El Chorro along the A-343.
You have 2 parking options:
- El Chorro parking: if you park here then you will have to take the bus to Ardales from which the route begins. The advantage is that at the end of the route you will already be close to your car
- Parking of Ardales: this way you can start immediately the walk that will take you to the Access House, the starting point of the Caminito del Rey. You can choose the short walk, 1.5 km, or the longest one, 2.7 km, up to the starting point. Of course at the end of the Way you will have to take the bus to return to your car.
The Caminito del Rey: route and tips
So I bring back the experience of me and Of Fernanda, my travel companion in this adventure.
In the morning we went to the station and took the train from Maria Zambrano to El Chorro departing at 10:06 and the duration of the 40 minute journey. The El Chorro station is small so there is no risk of getting lost, once you leave there was already the bus for which we climbed and in about 25 minutes we arrived at the parking lot of the north area from which you can start the route.
On the way there are no bathrooms so I advise you, once you get off the bus, to go there. There is just one on the outside of the kiosk that is located near the Ardales car park.
At this point there is a small walking route to do, actually 2 options, a short walk from 2.7 km with access point right next to the bathroom, or a shorter one a hundred meters away, from 1.5 km. Nio we opted for the shortest walk because we had booked for 12 o’t so we didn’t want to risk arriving late.
Always consider, as a precautionary measure, that it will take about an hour and a half to get to the caminito access house from the moment you park or arrive by train at El Chorro.
Keep this in mind when booking a visit to the Caminito!
The route is pleasant and not at all tiring, also on arrival at the access cottage there are vending machines of drinks and snacks, so in case you forgot something you have way to do supplies.
We arrived early so we waited a while for the time of our visit to arrive (we had booked for 1pm), while waiting the staff called people for booking time. For those who do not book the guided tour, the timetable is also more flexible so, in case you arrive in advance of the booked time, you will most likely not have to wait and you will be able to walk towards the entrance.
The photos of the Caminito, however stunning, do not make the breathtaking landscape around us at all; During the course the guide also pointed out ammonite fossils, because the walls of the canion that we cross in the past were part of a Jurassic beach with sandy bottom.
After about 40 minutes of walking the guide made us stop in a tree-lined area and with tables to rest a little and mangare something. We took the packed lunch saw the time of the visit and lunching between the gorges of El Chorro is an experience within the experience!
The route ends with the “Puente Colgante”, literally “Suspended Bridge”, which is a bridge supported by metal cables that stretch from one wall to another. As you walk along the bridge you can admire the abyss down, through the floor grid, or to see the vuodo through the grid under your feet which is supported by long braces (105 m high and 35 m long), you can look up and observe the majestic vultures that dominate the sky. During the passage the catwalk tends to swing but don’t worry, it was tested with the weight of 50,000 kg before opening in 2015! Once you reach its end, stop to admire the group of Jurassic limestone rocks arranged in vertical layers that extend towards the water, creating a large column at the entrance to the canyon.
After the Caminito with a little more adrenaline in the veins we walked to the station. We killed time by drinking a “cerveza” in the bar adjacent to the station, bar where you can also buy train tickets.
Not knowing exactly how long the route would last we had bought the last return ticket to Malaga, at 19:54. Actually at 17:30 we were already at the bar so we tried to catch a train in front of the booked one. Do not follow our bad example because the ticket is valid only for the indicated time, the controller however was very kind and did not fine us 😊.