El Caminito del Rey, The King’s Little Path, is a 7.7km long picturesque trail, close to cities like Malaga, Ronda, Antequera, or Mijas perfect for a one-day hike. Without a doubt, it’s among the most spectacular natural sites in Andalusia. Once, it was one of the most dangerous trails in the world due to its poorly maintained footbridges. But don’t worry, the route is perfectly safe to walk nowadays. Keep reading to discover everything you need to know before your visit El Caminito del Rey so you’ll make the most of the experience – from buying tickets to returning back safely to the parking.
El Caminito del Rey – everything you need to know
El Caminito del Rey is a one-way trail, from north to south. It starts in the municipality of Ardales and finishes in the municipality of Alora. The trail offers quite a unique experience of strolling along walkways hanging over 100 meters up on a sheer cliff face. El Caminito del Rey runs through cliffs, canyons, and a large valley. It crosses Desfiladero de Los Gaitanes, a gorge carved out by the river Guadalhorce, with walls 700 meters high.
History of Caminito del Rey in the province of Malaga
In 1866 the railway line connecting Cordoba and Malaga via the gorge was completed and a hydroelectric station at El Chorro was built shortly afterward. In 1921 a walkway was installed along the gorge, between the waterfalls of Gaitanejo and El Chorro. This solution allowed workers and needed materials to easily get from one end to the other.
The trail was named after King Alfonso XIII who in 1921 inaugurated El Chorro dam and walked along the pathway. “Caminito del Rey” is an abbreviation of “El Camino del Rey” and it’s the same place, so don’t panic if you’ll spot a slightly different name somewhere.
In 2000 the access to Caminito del Rey was closed due to security reasons (poorly maintained footbridges and many fatal accidents). After restoration, in 2015 it was reopened.
El Caminito del Rey tickets
You’ll need to buy tickets in advance to visit Caminito del Rey. Given its popularity, we recommend buying tickets as soon as you know when you’ll be in the area. Particularly if you’re planning your adventure on a weekend when the trail is much busier. You can buy tickets for the Caminito del Rey up to 3 months in advance on the official website. In December we bought our tickets 3 weeks earlier and we were already choosing from leftovers.
Ticket price for Caminito del Rey (March 2022): general ticket: 10€, guided visit: 18€
It looks like soon tickets for return shuttle bus and parking will also be available to buy on the website.
What does the Caminito del Rey hike look like?
Keep in mind that you should arrive at the parking in Ardales at least 30 minutes earlier. Before you reach the place where Caminito officially begins (control cabin/entrance) you’ll need to walk a 1.5km forest path. This path starts in a small tunnel, about 200 meters from El Kiosko Restaurant, near the parking lot. You won’t miss it as it’s clearly visible from the road. Once you’ll walk through it, follow the path until you get to the control cabin.
At the control cabin staff will check your tickets, provide you with a helmet, and check if your shoes are suitable for the hike. You’ll also hear about safety guidelines. After all of that, you’ll finally start the hike through Caminito del Rey.
First, you’ll walk down by the old hydroelectric plant before you get to the first boardwalk hanging onto the wall of the narrow gorge.
The next part of the trail leads through a forest path.
After some time you’ll reach the second boardwalk. Here, you can take a good look at the original path. Scary right? No wonder they decided to create a new one!
Also, don’t forget to take a good look at the other side of the gorge – there you can spot a railway line. Maybe you’ll be lucky to even spot a train as it drives through? At the end of this most exciting part of Caminito del Rey hike, a glass balcony viewpoint is waiting and then… a hanging bridge which can make you feel dizzy (if you don’t like unstable surfaces). The staff guards this bridge to ensure not too many people cross it at the same time. After the bridge, there’s about a 20 minutes walk left to get to another control cabin where you leave your helmet and take a shuttle bus.
El Caminito del Rey animals & plants
A wide variety of flora and fauna inhabits Caminito del Rey. During your walk don’t forget to look up – maybe you’ll be lucky to spot birds like griffon vultures, Egyptian vultures, or golden eagles. On the ground you can look for lizards, foxes, Iberian ibexes, or badgers. Be sure to keep your eyes wide open, and even take binoculars for a better look.
El Caminito del Rey parking lot
The place is really popular and kind of remote without a lot of space to leave the car. You’ll need to buy a parking ticket as there are no free spaces to leave the car in the area. Technically, you can try to leave the car alongside the road for free but it will work only early in the morning when the spots are still available.
El Caminito del Rey return to Ardales
As mentioned before, Caminito del Rey is a one-way trail, so after reaching the end you’ll need to return to the parking lot differently. The easiest and fastest way is to take a shuttle bus – the journey lasts about 15 minutes and costs €1.55 (march 2022). When we used it it was paid only by cash so make sure you’ve got some change with you. Buses run every 30 minutes.
Another option is to park at the south end, take the shuttle bus to the Ardales, walk Caminito, and arrive right back to your car.
You can also try to go by foot but it’s ~9km and almost 2h hours via a rather busy narrow road and we don’t recommend it.
El Caminito del Rey – practical information summary
Most important information that you need to know before visiting Caminito del Rey:
- The trail is not recommended for anyone with a fear of heights
- Bring plenty of water and snacks to eat
- Wear comfortable clothing
- Wear comfortable sturdy footwear such as trainers or walking boots (visitors in flip-flops or high heels won’t pass the main gate)
- In the summer use sunscreen and take a hat to protect yourself from the sun
- In the winter take some warm layers, a winter hat, gloves also may be very useful (it can get really cold while walking in the shades for most of the walk)
- A helmet is mandatory and you can’t take it off (there are cameras along the way and employees in various places who check it)
- Selfie sticks, tripods, etc. are not allowed so leave them in the car
- Toilets are only at the start and finish of the trail
- Only children over 8 years old can enter the trail
- You cannot carry children of any age in arms, or at any stretch
- Unfortunately, you cannot take your dog on the hike
- In case of bad weather, the walk can be temporarily closed
- You should arrive at the parking in Ardales at least 30 minutes earlier
- Reserve earlier hours to avoid troubles with parking & crowds on the trail
- Take some small change for the shuttle bus
Our opinion about Caminito del Rey in Malaga
Time for our honest opinion about the Caminito del Rey. We were very excited about this trail, as we love mountains and have many trails behind us. But although Caminito del Rey is unique and really beautiful none of us found it very exciting. Maybe we’ve seen too many mountains before to fall in love with this trail?
One more thing we really didn’t like was the fact that the trail is popular and because of that full of people. We love silence and enjoying the views without rushing so loud people all around weren’t nice at all. Even though, we were there early in the morning as a first group it was already full of people (by our standards). We just can’t imagine what it must look like in the middle of the day when several groups are mixed together.
Would we recommend seeing Caminito del Rey to you? Absolutely! After all, it’s a place definitely worth seeing.
BONUS – Viewpoint Mirador de Tres Embalses
After completing Caminito del Rey we decided to visit one more place in the area – Mirador de Tres Embalses… and it made a huge impression on us. Probably because it looks a little bit like our beloved Scotland. Anyway, views from this viewpoint are spectacular. Here you can admire a large part of Malaga mountainous region, notably peaks of the Sierra de las Nieves, Sierra de Huma or the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes. Lower you can see three bodies of water fed by the three most important rivers in the area.
How to get to El Caminito del Rey in Malaga?
The easiest and fastest way is by car. It will take you about 60km from Málaga, Mijas, or Ronda or about 50km from Antequera. We recommend leaving a car in one of the parking lots near El Kiosko restaurant.
Another option is to take the train to El Chorro station in Álora.
Where to eat in Caminito del Rey?
Here are your best, high-rated options in Caminito del Rey:
Where to sleep in Caminito del Rey?
Caminito del Rey - Map of places
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