El Caminito del Rey
Hiking in Málaga
The Caminito del Rey or The King’s Little Path is a walkway, along the steep walls of a narrow gorge in El Chorro, near Ardales in the province of Málaga, Spain. The Caminito del Rey runs impossibly along the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, which is an impressive three kilometres limestone canyon created by the Guadalhorce river, with heights of up to 300 metres and a width of less than 10 metres.
History of the Caminito del Rey
The Caminito was originally built between 1901 and 1905 and was used to transport material and people between two power stations that were built either side of the El Chorro gorge. In addition to the workers the path was used by children going to school, women to the shops and men to the bar. People would travel on foot, sometimes on horseback or by bicycle. This path was officially opened fifteen years late in 1921 by King Alfonso XIII, who walked its whole length.
Until recently, this almost 8-kilometre path was considered one of the most dangerous in the world and it was closed in 2000, after several people fell to their deaths.
Today the entire route has been carefully restored, earning it the Europa Nostra Award for heritage conservation, and although it’s now much safer, one thing hasn’t changed – the unique experience of strolling along walkways hanging over 100 metres up on a sheer cliff face.
Where does the Caminito del Rey get its name from?
The path gets its name from the Spanish King Alfonso XIII who inaugurated the pathway in 1921. It is literally called The King’s Little Pathway. The King himself strolled the length of it to marvel at the breathtaking & scenic landscape.
How long does it take to walk the path?
The Caminito’s route is not circular, it is one-way and you walk from Ardales in the north to southern Álora. The total length of the Caminito del Rey is 7.7 km, of which 4.8 are access paths and 2.9 are footbridges – which all take approximately three hours to complete. After finishing the route you will need the bus to take the back to your starting point which will add another half an hour.
Do I have to buy tickets?
You do need to buy tickets as spaces are limited to around 50 people every half hour for safety reasons. The slots are released about every 4 months and weekends get booked up quickly.
However booking is easy, just go to the calendar on the official site, choose your date and time and select the number of tickets you want. As it is a linear walk it is worth paying the extra 1.55 euro bus fare, which will take you back to the start.
Best Tours of the El Caminito del Rey?
In addition to a general visit completed at your own leisure, there is also the option of a guided tour to learn more about the region’s history, geography and biodiversity. These are our recommended tours.
Where is the El Caminito del Rey Located?
Located in the centre of the province of Malaga, between the towns of Álora, Antequera and Ardales, where it is one of the most spectacular landscapes in the Malaga mountains.
How to get to the El Caminito del Rey?
By Car: There are two options for parking: the car park of the train station in Álora which is at the exit of the route, or the car park at the Conde del Guadalhorce reservoir in Ardales which is at the entrance.
By Train: There are two trains that leave daily from Malaga’s Maria Zambrano station to El ChorroOne in the morning that goes on to Ronda and the second in the late afternoon and goes to Sevilla Santa Justa. Journey time is 40 minutes and a ticket costs 6€.
Buses run half-hourly from El Chorro train station to the starting point, where there are a couple of restaurants.
At the other end of the caminito there’s another 2.1km to walk from the southern access point back to El Chorro.
Tips for your trip to Caminito
- The Caminito should not be attempted if you are of a nervous disposition or suffer from vertigo!
- You will be provided with a helmet upon entry which must be kept on at all times.
- There are no bathrooms or facilities throughout the entire route.
- Bring water and food with you.
- Children need to be accompanied at all times and must be over 8 years old.
- Access can be closed during high winds – over 35 km/h.
- The walk is linear. You start in the north and end in the south.
- There’s a bus service that connects the two sides. Buses leave every half an hour, with a single ticket costing €1,55. You can buy the bus tickets together with the tickets for the Caminito.
- The bus from the El Chorro side leaves from the first roundabout just before arriving at the train station.
- The bus from the Ardales side leaves from El Sillón del Rey – the King’s chair – a few hundred metres down the road from the Kiosk restaurant.
Visiting El Caminito del Rey
9.30am-5pm Tue-Sun Apr-Oct, to 3pm Nov-Mar
Self-guided/guided visit €10/18