Are you thinking of doing the Caminito del Rey? Or are you just looking for new hiking routes in Spain? In both cases, this article will give you all the necessary information related to the Caminito del Rey, a unique excursion located in the inner rock of a canyon, with stretches barely more than a metre wide and with a height of 100 metres above a crystal-clear river. Both the views of the landscape and the exclusive characteristics of its location make the Caminito del Rey a very special destination, different from the rest.

What is the Caminito del Rey?

The Caminito del Rey is a pass located in the natural area of the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, built in the walls of a canyon that has been produced by the erosion of the Guadalhorce river, located between the municipalities of Antequera, Ardales and Alora, cities that are part of the province of Malaga, Andalusia. Its pedestrian walkway attached to the inner wall of the canyon, with stretches less than a metre wide and 105 metres above the Guadalhorce River, make it a unique destination in the world. In 2014 they restored the areas most damaged by the passage of time, building a new walkway and reinforcing the entire existing route. Since its restoration, the Caminito del Rey has gained notoriety among lovers of hiking and natural landscapes, with more than 300,000 visitors a year who decide to complete its routes. In order to avoid overcrowding, the Malaga Provincial Council and the Andalusian Regional Government set up a website to reserve the excursion and to control the number of visitors to the Caminito route.

The history of the Caminito del Rey begins in 1901, when the Sociedad Hidroeléctrica del Chorro needed a passage between the two waterfalls of the reservoir dam. The workers needed a direct route by which they could transport the building materials. Clandestine visits to the area became popular in the 1910s, when the dam was still under construction, due to the great beauty of the site and the beautiful views of the Guadalhorce river. The engineers decided to reform the bridge, which would take its present name when in 1921 King Alfonso XIII inaugurated the reservoir and crossed the bridge on his visit.

How to get to the Caminito del Rey?

You can get to the Caminito del Rey either by train or by road. If you want to opt for public transport, from the city of Malaga, RENFE offers daily departures that stop at the station of El Chorro, a village belonging to the municipality of Alora (Line 67 – approximately 50 minutes – tickets from €3.50 return). The bus is another good option. The Malaga Area Metropolitan Transport Consortium provides multiple services that can take you to the area from different destinations.

If you have a car, you can access the Caminito del Rey from different roads. Leaving from Malaga city, the A-357 road MA-5403 will take you to Ardales in about 50 minutes (60 km). If you are coming from Antequera you should take the A-92 to the A-384 in Campillos or the A-357 and MA-451 which takes you directly to El Chorro (55 km – 55 minutes approximately). Finally, the exit from Ronda via the A-367 to Ardales via the MA-5403 is the most recommended option if you are coming from the province of Cádiz (60 km – 60 minutes approximately).

Once located in the surroundings of the Caminito del Rey there are different accesses to the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes. In Ardales there is a municipal car park near the road where you can park at a cost of 2 euros per day. From the car park there are two trails available that take you to the entrance of the Caminito, one of 1.5 km and the other of 2.7 km. In El Chorro there is another car park, 300 metres from the shuttle bus stop that takes you to the start of the route. In the visitor reception centre is the third car park, also close to the shuttle bus stop. The cost of the shuttle bus is €2.50, and allows you free travel in both directions as many times as needed on the day of the visit. Payment by credit or debit card is not accepted, so it is advisable to carry cash.

Distance and difficulty of the Caminito del Rey

To successfully complete the Caminito del Rey it is recommended to maintain an active lifestyle that allows you to carry out a medium-intensity physical activity. The characteristics of the place, such as ascents, descents, walkways and stairs can complicate the mobility of the hiker, who, although he or she does not have to be a professional athlete to complete the route, it is advisable to have a minimum of experience in the world of hiking. Transit is not recommended for anyone who is not physically fit, who suffers from vertigo or who has heart or respiratory diseases.

The approximate distance to the Caminito del Rey is 8 kilometres: 5 km of access and 3 km door to door of the Valle del Hoyo footbridges. The estimated time to complete the entire route is between 3 and 4 hours. It is a linear route based on descents, although there are also some climbs, in one direction only, starting at the northern access to Ardales and finishing in the southern part in Álora. Both the walkways and its 105-metre-high suspension bridge can create a sense of vertigo and danger for the more apprehensive. It should be noted that the route is completely safe and that the infrastructure has been recently renovated

The Caminito del Rey is open every day of the year from Tuesday to Sunday, except for the public holidays of 24th, 25th, 31st December and 1st January. Opening hours are from 9:00 to 15:00 in the winter months and from 9:00 to 17:00 in the summer. The organisers reserve the right to decide on the closure of the route due to weather conditions. As it is located in an enclave with very scattered weather conditions, the forecast of strong winds and heavy rain may close the Caminito del Rey, with the primary objective of maintaining the safety of those attending.

To know all the accesses and sections of the route in depth you can access this link of the official website of the Caminito del Rey.

Where do I buy the Caminito del Rey ticket?

To buy a ticket for the Caminito del Rey you can access the official ticket sales platform . Once you have selected the day and time available, you will be able to determine the number of tickets you wish to purchase (maximum 10 tickets per person). With your purchase you will have to access your profile to personalise each entry before downloading or printing them. No ticket exchanges or refunds are allowed. The exchange of tickets due to weather closures is subject to the availability of the new requested date. The purchase of a ticket includes civil liability insurance that will cover the visitor for any contingency occurring during the visit, provided that this has not been caused by non-compliance with the established rules or by the sole fault of the visitor.

General admission is €10, while the guided tour with a quality-certified guide costs €18. Guided tours can be in both Spanish and English. There is also the possibility of doing the excursion in a group, also with a certified guide and with a maximum number of 30 people. In any case, it is important to respect punctuality, being 30 minutes before the time of the visit in the access area, behind the control booths.

Basic equipment to do the Caminito del Rey

To successfully complete the Caminito del Rey we recommend you to wear comfortable shoes. If possible, opt for shoes suitable for hiking, with good grip and good traction on uneven terrain. Avoid shoes with a flat sole that are prone to slipping. As far as clothing is concerned, the best option will be equipment that allows you total freedom of movement, allowing you to move without restrictions along all the sections of the Caminito del Rey. In the colder months of the year select thermal garments that retain body heat and add an extra layer of protection with a windbreaker jacket that doesn’t add excessive weight to your kit. Before starting the route, the organisers will provide you with a protective helmet that you will have to wear for safety reasons. At the end of the tour you must return the helmet.

Carry some food in your backpack, such as fruit, chocolate, energy bars or nuts. You can also take a sandwich with you if you plan to have breakfast. It should be noted that the Caminito del Rey is located in a natural area where you cannot make fires and there are no litter bins, so it is advisable to carry a plastic bag in your backpack to store all the waste you produce during the excursion. There are no food preparation facilities on the walkway sections. Due to the dimensions of the passage, which is no more than 1.5 metres wide, it is not possible to make a stop that would interrupt the flow of the visit. Don’t forget to take sunscreen with you.

If you need to buy basic equipment to do the Caminito del Rey you can access the Deporvillage website.

Surroundings of the Caminito del Rey

If at this point you have already decided to do the Caminito del Rey, we are going to recommend different places that you can see on the same day of the excursion and get a complete and unique experience. The first recommendation is to visit the prehistoric cave of Ardales, where numerous finds from 3,500 years ago have been preserved. The cultural legacy of the Palaeolithic period is reflected in the different paintings and engravings on its walls, tools carved from flint and the remains of bones that are still preserved today. Another place of interest is the necropolis of Las Aguilillas, a burial site made up of seven structures excavated in the sand and linked by a corridor that leads to the main chamber. It is estimated that the necropolis was built in 2100 BC. Finally, the Mozarabic basilica and the ruins of Bobastro are an example for understanding the first centuries of the formation of Al-Andalus, in the 9th century.

If you are looking for a place to eat before or after the Caminito del Rey, El Kiosko restaurant is located at one of the entrances to the path, less than 3 kilometres from the start of the hike. The shuttle bus service can get you from one point to the other in about 20 minutes. The restaurant, apart from offering a wide variety of traditional Malaga cuisine, also has various rural accommodations if you prefer to stay overnight during your visit to the Caminito del Rey.

Interesting facts about Caminito del Rey

  • Children under 8 years of age are not allowed to enter.
  • There are no toilets on the entire route. Toilets are only in the entrance and exit area.
  • The entry of pets is forbidden.
  • Smoking is not allowed.
  • Access with crutches or walking sticks is also not allowed.
  • The Caminito del Rey is guarded by security personnel.
  • The organisers recommend being at the entrance 30 minutes before the start time.
  • If you have booked a guided tour, the official guide will be waiting for you at the entrance area.
  • There is a candidacy for the inscription of the Caminito del Rey as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The Caminito del Rey has been the setting for films such as Colonel Von Ryan (1965 – starring Frank Sinatra and Raffaella Carrà) and The Bridge of San Luis Rey (2004 – starring Robert de Niro).
  • The stage finish of the Vuelta a España passed through the Caminito del Rey in the 2015 and 2018 editions.

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