The Caminito del Rey is by far the biggest inland tourist attraction in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia. You can find this popular hiking trail an hour’s drive from the city of Málaga. Haven´t you been there yet or you want to go again this spring or summer? We tell you here what you need to know to visit Caminito del Rey.
The once perilous path is far from the hustle and bustle of the coast. The landscape is rugged with gray rocks protruding from dense slopes and in between, there are turquoise reservoirs that glow. A visit to the Caminito del Rey is a wonderful experience in itself. However, the unparalleled beautiful surroundings are the crowning glory. The walk takes you through a beautiful, untouched nature reserve and through the deep gorge of Los Gaitanes.
Spectacular without danger
After a very extensive restoration, the path re-opened in 2015. Before that, it was dangerous to enter. Moreover, after a dozen fatal accidents in recent decades, it was off-limits. Daredevils repeatedly ignored the ban. And tragically fell from a great height over the remains of what was once a path to their doom. Fortunately, the authorities were aware of the trail’s enormous tourist potential. The route was made safe in a very aesthetically pleasing manner and now has more than a thousand visitors daily.
The path remains spectacular even though the danger is no longer. The 7 kilometre-hike takes between three and four hours. Therefore it can be perfectly combined with lunch in one of the local restaurants. El Mirador, El Kiosko, or La Posada del Conde to name a few. Or combine it with a visit to the beautiful village of Alora, to the cave of Ardales, or a walk to the ruins of the Moorish fortress Bobastro. From Parque Ardales you can practise various water sports in the summer on the nearby reservoir or take a pleasant walk around it along the banks.
The Caminito del Rey can only be walked in one direction. At the end, a shuttle service will take you back to the departure point at the parking lot close to the entrance or to the brand new visitors centre. At the entrance of the path, you show your tickets and your ID, receive a helmet, some information and off you go.
From there, the normal forest path soon changes into a path of wooden decking. Further on you can still see the original path next to and below you. Very fascinating because it immediately becomes clear to you where the life-threatening reputation comes from. The water of the river Guadalhorce winds its way to the left of the route. And later right below you, rippling a road from the reservoir Gaitanejo through the gorge towards the reservoir Tajo de la Encantada near the town of El Chorro.
The route takes you through the scenic Valle del Hoyo valley. The valley gets narrower and ends up at the dramatically opposed cliffs of the Los Gaitanes gorge. Further up, everything looks more and more impressive. Deep below you can see the river sparkling in the sun through the cracks in the planks. It becomes breathtaking on the transparent plateau attached to the rock wall at a height of eighty metres. People with a fear of heights should just walk past this. The fact that there is a memorial plaque nearby for three people in their 20s who died here 18 years ago does not immediately reassure. The rusty zipline across the gorge couldn’t hold their weight, and the boys plunged nearly a 100 metres.
A bit further you will see the most famous image of the Caminito del Rey: the suspension bridge with behind it the steel-blue sky and the blue-green water of the reservoir of El Chorro. In the rock face, a fossil of a prehistoric sea creature proves that these rocks formed the seabed millions of years ago. The bridge wobbles in the wind and the steel grid provides an amazing view of the depth below. You will see that the bridge is a popular place for taking selfies. This modern custom even causes some waiting time on normal days before you can make the spectacular crossing. After that, the most beautiful spectacle is over. Then you walk – still enjoying beautiful views – towards the exit where you wait for the bus to take you back to your car. This takes around 15 minutes.
At the beginning of the last century, the path was constructed on this seemingly impossible place to transport items. These were necessary for the construction of the Conde Del Guadalhorce dam and the hydroelectric power stations. In 1921, King Alfonso XIII opened the path, therefore, it was named “the king’s path”. It fell into disuse from the 1950s and continued to decline. However, the route gained a lot of appeal among heroic athletes or overconfident youths. Walking safely along the new path, it seems unimaginable that someone wishes to risk his life on just a few protruding steel beams with here and there a narrow weathered woorden board.
Caminito del Rey shuttle bus
You can book tickets up to three months in advance via Caminitodelrey.info. Book as soon as possible, as countless people already missed out due to the enormous popularity of the path. It’s not possible to buy tickets at the entrance. Entry is €10 per person or €18 including a guide. The path is accessible to children from 8 years of age. Children must bring their ID to prove their age. For the shuttle from the exit back to the parking you can buy a bus ticket online for €2,50. These tickets you can also buy at the bus and allows you to travel freely in both directions as many times as you need on the day of your visit. Take some cash because card payments are not allowed.
Parking at the Caminito del Rey
Since October last year the new visitor centre is open. You will find it along the road MA-5403 Ardales-El Chorro (km 5.5). It has an interpretation centre with touristic information about the surrounding municipalities, the gorge walk and the local flora and fauna. Furthermore there are 240 parking spaces for 2 euros a day (P). You can book parking online or buy the ticket when you arrive (depending on availability). Make sure you park here about an hour before the actual starting time on your ticket. From here the shuttle bus will bring you to the entrance of the Caminito del Rey.
Further down the same road, close to the restaurant El Mirador in Ardales there is another official car park (P1). This one is smaller and parking costs 2 euros for the day. Make sure you park your car at least 45 minutes before the actual starting time indicated on your ticket. From the parking or the restaurant it is a mile walk to the entrance, where you have to report half an hour in advance.
The third option is to park your car at the exit of the Caminito del Rey (P2) in Alora an hour before the starting time indicated on your ticket. The shuttle bus stop is 300 meters away, right on the train platform. The journey takes approximately 15-20 minutes to the stop near El Kiosko Restaurant. Before that it will stop at P1 too.
Opening hours to visit Caminito del Rey
The Caminito del Rey is closed on Mondays. Other days it is open from 9:00 h. until 15:30 h. / 17:20 h. (depending on the season). Note, the path also closes in bad weather or strong winds. Therefore, always check the website or the Facebook page on the day itself for current news and updates. If the path is closed through the website you can select a different date for your visit or get your money back via your personal area on the website.
If you want to get an impression of the path and the surroundings, click here for a virtual visit.