El Caminito del Rey (The King’s Little Pathway) is a walkway, pinned along the steep walls of a narrow gorge in El Chorro, near Ardales in the province of Málaga, Spain. Construction began in 1901 and was finished in 1905.
The original path, constructed of concrete supported by steel rails, deteriorated over the years – the concrete collapsed and left large gaps bridged only by narrow steel beams. Few of the original handrails existed, although a safety wire ran the length of the path. Several people lost their lives on the walkway and, after two fatal accidents in 1999 and 2000, the local government closed both entrances. Thrill-seekers continued to visit and four people died before a new safer path was completed in 2015.
The Caminito del Rey official website offers advance tickets for general (self-guided) admission and also guided tours. Unless you’re someone who loves walking slowly in a large group, such as Italians seem to prefer, then avoid the guided tour. We had to wait ages for the website to update and include June dates – so you need to check regularly and book as soon as tickets become available.
Entrada general + Autobús is 11,55€ – always include the bus as the walk is one direction and the bus will take you back to your car. You can easily park at the end or at the visitor centre. Parking at the start is more difficult. We opted to park at the end and take the bus to the start and I’d recommend that option. If you park at the visitor centre, you’d need to wait for two buses; one to take you to the start and one back from the end.
We drove from Seville (about 2.5 hours) in a rental car – the sat nav took us to an in-paved road and a blocked-by-barrier entrance. There isn’t any signposting to help you find where to go. I entered the following co-ordinates for the Visitor Centre from the website: 36.914411,-4.806910 – that took us to the visitor centre where we then turned left (signpost said El Chorro) and followed a winding road until we reached a parking area. After that we had to walk up a hill to the train station and bus pick up point.
The bus ride to the start took about 15 minutes. We were dropped at the entrance to a tunnel that lead to a 3km picturesque path through the woods and alongside a lake.
Even though we parked at 3pm, we were still ten minutes late for our 4pm ticket slot – they didn’t seem to mind, but it’s worth planning ahead. If you arrive late, your best plan is to park at the entrance and take the bus back at the end of the walk.
A group was ahead of us and they had already been issued their green safety helmets and guide radios with earpieces.
As self-guided walkers, we were issued white helmets, which we wore proudly as we passed the slow-moving greens through the entrance.
The path is spectacular and wasn’t busy until we caught up with another group of green hats.
About half way through, the path was interrupted by a regular path along the cliffs and through some woodland.
The second half was even more spectacular.
There were quite a few stairs to climb in the second half. The path ends with another rotary barrier, but there was still a bit of a walk from there to where we parked our car. I checked the Health app on my iPhone when we reached the car.
It was easily a two-hour walk and I can imagine it would be a struggle if the temperature was over 28 degrees. There are benches where you can sit and have a rest. Bring water and visit the bathroom at the entrance as there are no facilities on the walk.
I absolutely recommend that you visit the Caminito del Rey – it really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! I’ve pasted more photos at the end of this article.