8 minutes | Saturday, November 5th, 2022
El Caminito del Rey (the King’s Little Path) was once considered Spain’s most dangerous hiking trail. The path was closed for over a decade. Today the Caminito del Rey is open and perfectly safe for anyone willing to walk along its 100-meter tall vertical cliffside. I enjoyed one of the best hikes of my life here with my friend Sarah Slattery - (The Travel Expert) It really is a magical 8 kilometres of escape into a stunning landscape.
Pinned along the steep walls of a narrow canyon in El Chorro, in the province of Málaga, lies one of Spain most impressive hiking trails: El Caminito del Rey. The 7.7 kilometer long stretch of platforms, narrow ledges and high bridges meanders through the stunningly beautiful Gorge of the Gaitanes.
El Caminito del Rey (the King’s Little Path) was once considered Spain’s most dangerous hiking trail. The path was even closed for over a decade. But today Caminito del Rey is open and perfectly safe for anyone willing to walk along its 100-meter tall vertical cliffside.
A Brief History of El Caminito del Rey
In 1901, Chorro Hydroelectric Society decided to build two hydraulic stations, a dam and an aqueduct across the gorge. They needed a passage to provide access for workmen and materials, so they started the construction of a pathway.
Because the work was difficult and dangerous, the company brought convicts and sailors from Malaga to do the job. In order to build the road, the workers had to hang from ropes fixed at the top of the gorge. But amazingly enough, only two men died during the construction.
The footpath was built between 1901 and 1905. However, the dam wasn’t finished until much later, in 1921. The original walkway was only 3 feet wide and had only thin steel safety wire for protection.
How Did El Caminito del Rey Get its Name?
The story says that at the opening ceremony, when King Alfonso XIII came to sign off the works, he sat on in his throne above the dam. Impressed with pathway hanging high above the cliff, he decided to walk along it. It’s unclear how far the king really walked, considering the difficulty of the passage. However, ever since that day the trail has been known as El Caminito del Rey.
A New But Still Scary Path
In 2015, after an extensive reconstruction that costed over 9 million dollars, El Caminito del Rey trail reopened for the public. But you can still see thorn fragments of the original Caminito clinging to the gorge, just below the newly cast path.
So if you are still in doubt whether you should attempt this hike, rest assured that no accidents have been reported on this trail since its reopening. Nonetheless, hiking the Caminito del Rey is still a stomach churning business for some people.
Hiking the New Caminito Del Rey Trail
The official starting point of the Camino de Rey starts at Silicon del Rey (the Chair Alfonso XIII) where the King sat during the signing ceremony. A shorter and more popular alternative access road is the one just south of the small tunnel on the MA-444, near El Mirador de Ardales restaurant.
Once you reach the control cabin, the staff will provide you some safety gear, including a helmet. They will also check if your shoes are suited for the hike.
The trail is primarily straight, going down from north to south along the mountains and across some bridges. Many of the tricky places were modified during the restoration, so navigation along the rocks is much easier now. Even so, there are large portions of the road where it you’ll be faced faced with a 300-ft drop when you look through your feet to the El Chorro gorge below.
The trek will take you through the Gaitanejo gorge, the Tajo de las Palomas canyon, then over the Puente del Rey suspension bridge, which is perhaps the scariest part of the hike. If you can overcome the fear that takes hold of your body when you look down, you will see a spectacular landscape all around you.
Caminito del Rey Tickets
- General Entrance Ticket – €10
- Guided Tour – €18
- Age limit – 8 years and older (passport/ID required)
- Parking – €2 per space
Important: The car parking lot is not within walking distance from the starting point to the Caminito del Rey, so you’ll still need to take shuttle bus to the entrance.
Buying Tickets for the Caminito del Rey
Buying your tickets in advance helps a lot, but you can only buy them from the Buying Tickets. Sometimes however, you may not find tickets available for the date that you want to get it. If you don’t find any tickets online, you have three other options:
Buy Your Ticket at the Gate
The next best option to buy tickets for Caminito del Rey is to buy them at the gate. Be advised however that the park sells only 50 tickets per day for those who buy them at the gate. So, you should come early if you want to get in, as people turn up to queue as early as 07:30 am!
Buy a Combo Ticket from the Train Station
If you are staying in Malaga, you can purchase a combination ticket for the train, bus and the entrance to the path. Tickets are available on any of the vending machines at train stations in Malaga. You’ll find information on how to buy the combo ticket right next to the machines. Unfortunately, it’s only in Spanish, but the steps are not hard to follow.
Important! You can only buy the combo tickets on the same day you are going. The vending machines are open from 6:00 am to 09:15 am every day, except Monday (when the Caminito del Rey is closed.)
There are 100 tickets available each day (70 for self guided tours and 30 for guided tours.) The combo ticket prices are: €23/ person without a guide and €31/person for a guided tour.
Get Your Guide
If none of the above options work, you still have can book a trip to Caminito del Rey from Get Your Guide. Here are a few tours that you may like:
Visiting with a Guide
We did the Caminito del Rey hike as part of a press trip to Malaga, so we were in a group, but they offer guided tours at the site as well. Going on a guided tour is a big advantage because they give you a lot of information about Caminito del Ray and its history. Ideally, you should hire a guide that will pick you up at your hotel and take you back afterwards. That is a lot more expensive, but it saves you a lot of hassle.
Visiting on Your Own
You can also hike the Caminito del Rey on your own, if you want to save some money. There is a lot of information about its history online, so you can familiarize yourself with it before coming. If you want to take your car here, there are some things you need to know. First of all, there are two parking lots. You can park either in the north parking lot, which is closer to the entrance, or if that one is full, you park in the south parking lot and take the bus back to the north parking lot. From the north parking lot it’s a 1.5 km tunnel that leads to the entrance. It’s a long way to get here and you’ll waste a lot of time to find parking. To get to the entrance and the booking office you’ll have to walk for 1.5 km. The hike goes in one direction only. That means you’ll have to take a shuttle bus if you want to go back to where you started.
Torremolinos - Torremolinos has always been a big holiday spot for the Irish with 9km of sandy beaches to stretch out and a lively mix of European-friendly and super-authentic Spanish dining and socialising to get stuck into. I returned to see what Torremolinos has to offer these days and was pleasantly surprised. I stayed at the the Melia Costa del Sol which is a great location overlooking the beach. The Level at the hotel is a very popular option with Irish holidaymakers offering lots of extra perks and an adult only rooftop pool with the level lounge serving lots of delicious food and drinks throughout the day. I met with GM Orlando Perez who gave me lots of top tips and info on what's happening at the hotel and all about the Torremolinos 2030 initiative.
Sitting pretty right on Bajondillo Beach, the 4-star Melia Costa del Sol puts you right in one of the best spots in the Costa, in the perennially popular resort of Torremolinos. This hotel is a favourite with couples (it's a recommended adult hotel) and earns its four-stars with great rooms and lots of facilities and extras.
Like many of the hotels on Spain’s famous Costa del Sol – the ‘Sunshine Coast’ – Melia Costa del Sol is big, with 540 rooms, most with excellent sea views onto a deep-blue Mediterranean. You’ll know you’re in a top-quality hotel as soon as you check into your room. Classic rooms and Deluxe rooms are well equipped with large beds, 32 or 43 inch LCD TV and free Wifi plus a balcony for enjoying the view. Guests in Executive Junior Suites, Master Suites or The Level can make the most of Nespresso machine, dock station/speaker with Bluetooth, free WiFi, and 55 inch flat-screen TV offering international channels. The balconies are large and as well-furnished as the rooms. Rooms are available as twins, doubles, junior suites, partially adapted rooms. Elsewhere in the hotel you can work on your fitness in the gym (free of charge) or relax in a steam bath, sauna or with massage therapies or spa treatments at the Thalasso Spa (additional charges applicable). Otherwise, you can lounge by the outdoor pool. If you want to look your best, book into the beauty salon for some pampering.
For drinks head to the central bar, specialising in cocktails with a sea view and live music to complete the scene. A buffet restaurant offers Mediterranean and international cuisines alongside regional specialities. The La Proa Gastrobar is an a la carte restaurant with creative Mediterranean cuisine. For The Level and other offers visit - Melia Costa del Sol
Casa de los Navajas - Torremolinos
In the early 20th century Spain’s medieval Moorish-style architecture (Mudéjar) was back in fashion. For a great example of this neo-Mudéjar design climb the steps to this bold mansion, which sit next to the beach at Playamar and was built by the wealthy local businessman Antonio Navajas: It’s like the Great Gatsby meets the Alhambra. Now, almost century after it was built the house has been renovated and is open to the public. Get a good look at the mosaics on the facade, and the furniture and fittings that fuse the Spanish renaissance with art deco.The second floor of the house was designed as a terrace and coastal lookout with sublime views of the Mediterranean.
For more information visit - www.spain.info