At a height of 100 meters above the Guadalhorce River in the Spanish Andalusia meanders the El Caminito del Rey, once one of the most dangerous hiking trails in the world and also called the King’s path.
After a thorough renovation, the walkway is completely safe again and you walk along a nicely constructed (wooden) path along the steep cliffs of the beautiful El Chorro gorge. Are you traveling through Andalucia, you are not affraid of heights and you are in for a nice walk? Then the El Caminito del Rey is definitely recommended. Find here all the practical information you need for this spectacular walk.
The El Caminito del Rey is a walking path of about 3 km long (excluding the access paths), which runs through the beautiful El Chorro gorge.
You would think that the El Caminito del Rey is a landscaped walking path to view this gorge. However, the walking path is not originally a hiking trail, but a path that was specially built in the early 1900s to make the hydropower plants near the Chorro and the Gaitanejo waterfalls more accessible to workers and material.
At that time, the path did not carry the name El Caminito del Rey yet, as we know it today. Only after King Alfonso XIII used the path to walk to Conde del Guadalhorce in 1921 to officially open this dam, the path was renamed the King’s Trail: El Caminito del Rey.
In the course of time the path, partly because it was no longer maintained, unfortunately fell into disrepair and the concrete path slowly crumbled. Despite the fact that the walking path was in a dangerous condition and hardly did not contain any handrails anymore, it did not stop several adventurers from continuing to discover the King’s path.
Even when the path was officially closed in 1992, the start of the walk was demolished and fines up to a maximum of EUR 6,000 were imposed, several daredevils continued to explore “the most dangerous walkway in the world”. Climbing, clambering and balancing on the remaining narrow metal beams and avoiding holes in the concrete path. Unfortunately with a few fatal accidents as a result.
Eventually in 2006, the local government in Andalusia came with the plan to renovate the footpath thoroughly and in 2014 the renovation started. With the help of helicopters and experienced alpinists, the walking path was slowly but surely being refurbished and made safe again, on which it officially opened its doors in March 2015 for visitors.
Now, you can safely do this walk again and enjoy this beautiful piece of nature in the south of Spain. Are you curious about what the path looked like before the renovation? Then check this video.
The El Caminito del Rey is located 62km northwest of Málaga in Andalusia, southern Spain.
The El Caminito del Rey is, including the access paths, 7,7km long and takes about 3-4 hours.
The total time of 3-4 hours may sound long for an 8 kilometer hike, but I can assure you that you will stop regularly on the way to view and to photograph this beautiful piece of nature. Be sure to take your time.
The King’s path, or the El Caminito del Rey, is a linear walk and means that you start at point a and will finish at point b. You can only start the walk from the northern side, from restaurant El Kiosko.
Are you curious what you are going to see along the trail? Then read on.
1. Restaurant El Kiosko
Near restaurant El Kiosko you can park your car, find the shuttle bus stop, use the toilet and you can have something to drink or eat before or after your hike. Here you will also find the two access paths to the El Caminito del Rey. One access path is 2.7km long and starts on the right of restaurant El Kiosko.
The other access path can be found on a 250m walk on your left hand side from restaurant El Kiosko in the direction of the paid parking lot. Here you start the walk with the passage of a pedestrian tunnel.
Both access paths lead you to the official entrance of the El Caminito del Rey. After a final toilet stop and the check of your entrance ticket, you will be provided with an obligatory helmet (including a hairnet for hygiene) and you are ready to go.
2. Gaitanejo Gorge
After you have passed the Gaitanejo Dam, you will go down via a number of stairs towards the direction of the first gorge: the narrow Gaitanejo Gorge.
Especially when the sun is shining exactly through the gorge along the steep rockwalls and once you get down, you are treated to an amazing view on this only 10 meter wide gorge and the start of this beautifully landscaped wooden boardwalk!
3. Marmitas’ of ‘Cambutas
About 50 meters from the start of the boardwalk it is not only worth it to stop and to admire the high rockwalls. Here, you will also find marmitas or cambutas (cooking pots). These are holes which are worn out by erosion and which are clearly visible at the bottom of this part of the gorge. From the small viewpoint you can check-out the “cooking pots” safely from above.
As soon as you leave the Gaitanejo Gorge and turn around the corner, you will look into an enormous open space straight away: Soto. Here, in the middle between the first and second gorge, there is a small lagoon.
From the Gaitanejo Gorge the trail is going down via a number of concrete steps, the Escalera de mantequilla, or also called the Butter Stairs. Once you are down and take a closer look, you can see the entrance of an old cave on the left side underneath the boardwalk. This is a spot which was once used by mountain goat hunters as a hiding place. Allthough you will have to search for them well, because the entrance can be overgrown.
While you continue your way you will come across a kind of crossroad of the trail, where you can choose to go left to follow the old boardwalk or to take a little detour via the tunnel on your right-hand side: the Paso Subterraneo. It does not matter which way you choose, because both paths arrive at the same point again.
5. Las Palomas Cliff
Once you turn around the corner along the boardwalk which is hanging again against the rockwall, you will leave Soto behind and arrive in the second gorge: the Las Palomas Cliff (Doves Cliff).
While walking along the canal, on your left you will have a good view of the constructed railway line where you will regularly see trains passing which are running between Málaga and Córdoba.
A little bit further you will see a concrete bridge which runs across the canal. This is the King’s Bridge (Puente del Rey) and is named after King Alfonso XIII who used the path on the 21st of May 1921. The walkway is not constructed especially for this king, but was build at that time to make it easier to load and unload materials between the two railway tunnels.
From the walkway it is only a short walk to the Hoyo Valley via the wooden boardwalk.
6. Hoyo Valley
After the first and second gorge you will reach the Hoyo Valley. Here you are standing in a totally different landscape: an enormous green valley.
From here the wooden boardwalk temporarily stops and goes on as a walking path with a hard surface. The place where the boardwalk stops is also a perfect place to rest and enjoy the view of the Hoyo Valley.
After this you will walk through a pine forest and the path stretches out at the base of the Almorchón Cliff and along the Ballesteros Cliff, before it takes you to the final part of the trail.
On your way you will see the emereld green river meander through the surprisingly green valley and you will look out on different rock formations. Slowly the path goes up and in front of you two high and thick concrete walls will appear. These are the remains of an old irrigation channel, which was used to generate power for the El Chorro Hydroelectric Power Station.
Here, the path continues through the irrigation channel and as soon as you have reached the end you will already see the final gorge. While walking towards the Gaitenes gorge on your right-hand you will pass an entrance covered with wooden planks. Behind this lies an old service tunnel and is serving as a shelter for bats after a renovation.
A little bit further down a number of wooden stairs and a huge floodgate indicate the start of the final 800m long wooden boardwalk. The floodgate, to the right of the stairs, marks the entrance of the channel and is a kind of second path which was opened in 2017 after a renovation. However, the path in this channel is only accessible in case the hanging wooden boardwalk in the Gaitanes Gorge is not passable due to for example landslides.
When landslides occur it normally was not be possible to finish the walk and it was necessary to close the trail. By building this extra path a closure of the entire walk is not necessary anymore when landslides occur. Now you are able to walk to the end of the trail via this channel, which ends at the aquaduct a little bit further away.
7. Gaitanes Gorge
Once at the top of the stairs you should certainly not forget to take a last look at the enormous Hoyo valley. Then it is time for the last part of the King’s Path and perhaps the most spectacular part of the walk. The wooden footpath here literally hangs against the rock walls and you are certainly 100 meters above the emerald green river that flows underneath you.
During this final 800m walk along the King’s path you are really able to see clearly in which state the old walking path was. It is only located a few meters below the new path and can be seen pretty much the entire walk. If you take a closer look at the rock walls, you can still see all kinds of climbing equipment hanging from the walls. This reminds you that climbers ever risked their lives here while they were braved the not yet renovated path.
Today, however, it is still a place where you can watch (professional) climbers climb the steep cliffs. And even when you are not a professional climber, this last part of the walk contains enough exciting moments for the most of us.
The first one is El Balcón de Cristal, the glass balcony. This viewpoint is equipped with a glass floor and offers a beautiful view of the 100 meter deep gorge below you. After the glass balcony the boardwalk meanders along the steep cliffs of the gorge, which sometimes tower 250 meters above you. After then it is still a short 250 meters walk and gradually the aqueduct and the hanging pedestrian bridge come into view.
8. Avenue Caminito del Rey
Next to the aqueduct, where water is still being pumped through, there is a hanging footbridge: Puente Colgante. Via this high metal bridge you make the crossing to the last part of the walk and indicates the end of the El Caminito del Rey.
After you have overcome the crossing at the hanging pedestrian bridge, during which you have a last beautiful view of the Gaitenes Gorge and the emerald green river, you start the 2.1 km long descent towards El Chorro.
The first part goes along a number of steps, after which you will finally set foot on solid ground again. You have completed the El Caminito del Rey! Then it is time to hand in your helmet at the drop-off point and you can walk slowly towards the pick-up point for the shuttle bus, to bring you back to El Kiosko.
The El Caminito del Rey is open from Tuesday until Sunday, provided the weather conditions allow and no work takes place. The walking path is closed on all Mondays, 24, 25, 31 December and 1 January.
The first entrance is at 9.30h (09.30am) and the last entrance is between 3 pm and 5 pm (depending on the season). In order to regulate the crowds a bit more, a new group of hikers is admitted every 15-30 minutes.
Per day a maximum of 1,100 entrance tickets is available for the El Caminito del Rey. The walk on the King’s Path is very popular and therefore it is advisable to book your tickets at least 2-3 months in advance.
Here you have to make a choice for a:
- start time;
- Entrada General (standard access) or a Guided Tour (ESP/ENG);
- ticket including or excluding a one way by shuttle bus.
The price for the tickets is: € 10 per person.
The supplement for a guide is: € 8 per person.
The surcharge for the shuttle bus is € 1.55 per person one way.
After your booking you will receive the tickets by e-mail.
The tickets for El Caminito del Rey are sold out. What to do?
Have not you been able to get (a) ticket(s) anymore? Then you can still try to arrive at the start of the walk between 08.30h (08.30am) and 09.00h (09.00am).
Keep in mind that you may not be the only one to try to get a ticket on the day itself!
In case people do not show up, then there is a chance that you can still buy an admission ticket for the El Caminito del Rey at the ticket office and are still able to do the walk.
In addition, there are sometimes people who offer tickets on the spot because, for example, friends or family are unfortunately unable to do the walk or cannot join them. I was fortunate that during the wait at the cash desk a visitor offered her tickets for sale because her family was not able to come along. That is how I was still able to do the walk. Lucky me!
Explain to the seller that you want to be sure that the purchased tickets are real and ask the seller to walk along to the entrance where the entrance tickets are being scanned. If your entrance tickets have been scanned and approved, you can pay the seller properly. Better safe than sorry!
The El Caminito del Rey was known as one of the most dangerous hikes in the world because of the very poor condition of the hiking trails. Parts of the path were missing, were not equipped with handrails and at various places you were even walking above the meters deep gorge without any protection.
In 1992 the local government decided to completely renovate the walkway and to close it for the time being. But despite the closure, high fines and the demolition of the first part of the path, the real daredevils still managed to find the path. Unfortunately, with a number of fatal accidents as a result.
After a complete renovation with the help of helicopters and alpinists, the hiking trail reopened in April 2016 and was safe to walk again. The new walkway consists of about 1.5m wide wooden planks and has fences at the edges. These are exactly high enough to view the canyon safely.
Nice to see is that in a number of places the new walking path has been built over the old walking path. Here you can clearly see in which state the old path was.
As soon as you start the walk you get a helmet and a hairnet (for hygiene). You are required to wear this helmet the entire walk.
You can do:
- the walk on your own (Entrada General) or
- on fixed times under the guidance of a guide (Guided Tour ESP/ENG).
If you choose to do the hike with a guide, the guide will take you along the same hiking trail with a maximum of 25 people. On the way, the guide will tell you, in both Spanish and English, everything about the history, geography and nature of the area.
The paths is almost flat and there are a number of stairs along the way. An extremely good condition is therefore not necessary. However the stairs may be difficult for visitors with reduced mobility.
If you are afraid of heights, the walk can be unpleasant.
At the beginning and at the end, in both the Gaitanejo Gorge and the Gaitanes Gorge, the walking path is located against the rock walls and thus also hangs a few (tens of) meters above the gorge.
Just before the end of the El Caminito del Rey you have to cross a steel hanging bridge between two mountain walls and that can be a tough crossing if you are afraid of heights. You then walk across the gorge and the river, at about 100m altitude, to the last part of the walk.
The Kings Path is not accessible for children under 8 years old. At the start of the walk, an identity card will also be requested.
For safety reasons it is not allowed to take selfie sticks, tripods or an umbrella. This is because the walking path is rather narrow (about 1.5m wide) and otherwise there is not enough space for other walkers to pass.
The El Caminito del Rey can be reached by (rental)car, by train and by bus.
|Ardales||9,5 km||19 min|
|Antequera||48,1 km||42 min|
|Ronda||57,4 km||55 min|
|Málaga||61,1 km||55 min|
|Granada||138 km||101 min|
|Seville||152 km||108 min|
After the walk you take the shuttle bus back to your car.
At the end of the El Caminito del Rey you can find the train station of El Chorro and is accessible from various cities in Andalusia with Renfe, a Spanish railway company.
Tip: try to plan your arrival by train in El Chorro in a way that you do not have to wait too long for the shuttle bus which takes you to the start of the walk.
Málaga Estacion Maria Zambrano – El Chorro: 2 trains a day. Travel time: 42 minutes.
El Chorro – Málaga Estacion Maria Zambrano: 3 trains a day. Travel time: 39-47 minutes.
One way: from € 6,05.
Return: from € 9,70.
Ronda – El Chorro: 1 train a day. Travel time: 72 minutes.
El Chorro – Ronda: 1 train a day. Travel time: 68 minutes.
One way: from € 9,50.
Return: from € 15,20.
Seville Santa Justa – El Chorro: 2 trains a day. Travel time: 112-124 minutes.
El Chorro – Seville Santa Justa: 1 train a day. Travel time: 126 minutes.
One way: from € 20,10.
Return: from € 32,2o.
Seville San Bernardo – El Chorro: 2 trains a day. Travel time: 109-121 minutes.
El Chorro – Seville San Bernardo: 1 train a day. Travel time: 122 minutes.
One way: from € 18,10.
Return: from € 29,00.
From Álora, 14.3 km south of El Chorro, bus M-340 runs between Álora and El Chorro-Caminito del Rey from bus stop Piscina several times a day.
On Sundays, the bus also leaves twice a day to and from El Chorro-El Caminito del Rey from the bus station at the Álora train station. The bus station can be found on Calle Estación D, next to the entrance of the train station.
Price busticket: € 1,55 per person, per one way.
Duration: 25-30 minutes.
At the start of the walk you can park your car at various points. You can:
- Park your car free of charge at various places along the road in the direction of El Kiosko restaurant, or;
- Choose to park your car in the paid parking lot. The costs for parking on the paid parking lot are very reasonable at € 2 per day.
The El Caminito del Rey is a walk from point a to point b and runs from north to south. To get back to the starting point and to your car, a shuttle bus is available.
In 15-20 minutes the bus drives you back to the bus stop (and starting point) at restaurant El Kiosko and leaves every half hour between 09.00-09.30h (09.00-09.30am) and 19.30-20.00h (07.30-08.00pm). The times may vary per day and pick-up point.
A bus ticket costs € 1.55 per single journey and can be added during the booking process of your admission ticket for the El Caminito del Rey. At the end of the walk you will find the bus stop on the left side of the road, between the train station of El Chorro and restaurant Garganta.
Walking back to El Kiosko is not recommended. This because the road is very narrow and therefore not very safe to walk along the side of the road.
Do you have a Málaga City Transport Company bus pass for making multiple trips? Then you will receive a discount on the shuttle bus and you only pay € 0.93 per person, per one way.
During the walk itself there are no facilities such as toilets, waste bins or restaurants where you can buy something to eat or drink. The last toilet facilities can be found at restaurant El Kiosko or just before the ticket office at the start of the walk on the north side.
It is advisable to bring paper tissues and disinfectant hand gel with you. Especially when it is busy at the start of the walk, toilet paper and soap to wash your hands are sometimes not available anymore at the toilets at the entrance.
And take your waste along. Leave nothing but footprints!
At the moment the new visitor center is being finalized. After the opening visitors can go here for questions and information about the area and the hike. In addition, a café, souvenir shop and 200 parking spaces will be realized at the new visitor center. The date of the opening is not known yet.
The nearest airport to the El Caminito del Rey is Málaga. Málaga-Costa del Sol Aeropuerto is located on 64 km and a 56-minute drive away.
There are several airlines that fly to Málaga, such as Vueling.
You can spend the night in Ardales (18 min drive) or El Chorro (17 min drive). Nice places to stay are:
- snacks and/or lunch
Do you dare to walk the El Caminito del Rey?
All times and prices mentioned above are subject to changes.