22 February 2016

El Caminito Del Rey | Hiking Spain's Most Dangerous Hiking Trail

I learned about El Caminito Del Rey  through some climbing articles I was reading a couple of years ago. I have been rock climbing on and off  for a couple of years now and being the adrenaline junkie I can be, this was just one of those climber's bucketlist items. Sure, El Caminito Del Rey was touted as Spain's most dangerous hike and that's what made it all that much more attractive. Fast forward a few years later and I totally forgot about this bucketlist item only to have my boyfriend surprise me with a trip. There I was conjuring up all sorts of romantic destinations then be told I would be needing hiking boots. Uh Oh! Thoughts of kisses under the twinkling Effiel Tower quickly dashed as no one ever needed hiking boots to explore the  streets of Paris while scoffing down macaroons faster that smarties.

The time came and we were headed for sunny Spain, as lovely as Paris is, its never guaranteed sunshine to anyone. So a trip to Malaga, Spain's sunniest city was just what the London weather man ordered. If you haven't been to Malaga or Andalucia for that matter then I have 7 reasons why you should visit Andalucia. I learned about our planned activity to El Caminito Del Rel about 2 days before we  were leaving so in my excitement I researched a little only to find out that it had been repaired so I would not be needed any of my climbing gear never the less I was still reeling in excitement of the thought of exploring a dizzying trail on the cliff edges of that were in use since 1921. 

About El Caminito Del Rey

El Caminito del Rey translates to The King's Little Pathway. Its a walking trail pinned along the narrow gorge in El Chorro's in the province or Malaga. The trail runs for about 7 Kilometers,   but depending on where you start can be 5 km. The cliff hanging path is about 3 km. It was as a supply route for a remote mining operations. Following decades of erosion of the original metal frames that formed the path, had left the walkway in a state of disrepair; the recent deaths of 5 climbers finally brought to the trail the refurbishment it so desperately needed. The trail closed off for refurbishment before being re-opened in 2015.

Is  It Dangerous?

Is El Caminito Del  Rey dangerous? For a place that was opened in 1921 with little maintenance, as expected its condition and safety dwindled with each passing year. Like many dangerous climbing routes, you know one slip out and you are seeing the white light. There were many deaths on the original route. The missing parts on the trail and the big gaping holes didn't help much. Spain closed it off for maintenance and restoration and reopened in early last year. Fifteen 15 years after a deadly incident and a 3 million restoration program, it was finally opened to hikers. In answer to the question, it's not as dangerous as it used to be. It's a lot safer now, much of the old paths are still visible and you can see just how mindbogglingly crazy the trail was. Sections of the tail with big holes, metal eaten away by rust, paths that just disappeared or probably fell into the 100 meter deep canyon. 

If it's not dangerous why bother?

Am I glad I was walking the trail after it had been fixed up? Hell yes! Now that I have seen how crazy and probably medicated I would have to be to take it on, I am glad that I didn't have to pay with my life for it to be fixed up either. Safer doesn't also mean less scary. There are some parts that still had me saying my hail Marys and I am not even Catholic. Towards the end of the Trail there is a metal mesh bridge. Unless you start your trail for this side I would save this for last. This bridge was dancing with the wind about as we crossed it. I thought it was going to break! Holding on to my boyfriend for dear life but when we got to the end, guess what, I wanted to go on it again! As we were the last people to  cross before closing for the day, that wasn't going to happen. Not like the rest of the trail is a breeze, but this part is the thing nightmares are made of for anyone afraid of heights.  These days the trail is safe but very exciting and is a unique experience full of amazing sights.

How Much Is it?

The tickets are FREE to walk El Caminito del Rey, but may soon be chargeable at 10€. Tickets are released for online reservation in monthly batches on the official website. All tickets are now for the Ardales and North entrance.

What You Need To Pack When Visiting El Caminito Del Rey?

Walking shoes are a must. Yes, I saw people in trainers but I would highly recommend sensible walking/hiking shoes. Always check the weather before heading there. Also A MUST is your passport. You may not be allowed to go there without it. I guess just for safety in who they would have to contact if you did anything stupid that would cause you to meet your maker. You should also also consider packing some food/snacks, water, sun cream, sunglasses and some mosquito repellent.

Safety Equipment Required?

You should pack a pair of walking shoes and sensible clothing depending on what time and season you visit, they will supply you with a helmet. Yes, it doesn't do much for looking cute as you walk around but if any loose stones fall over, your head is safe. As it is sunny much of the time there you should also consider sun glasses, sun block and mosquito replant. Also note that there are no bathrooms throughout the entire route.

How Do I Book? 

We got our hotel to call up and book for us. The whole walk takes about 2 hours without too much rest. We arrived late and were the last people to walk on it before they closed. They also have people walking the trail with walkie talkies to make sure no one is left on the trail when it closes for the day so camping out there is out of the question unless you hide in the woods. Even if you try , they will only send out a search party as they know who has completed the walk and passed through the exit points. Some times they only accept a number of people a day so be sure to enquire early.

How Do I get there?

We flew in from London to Malaga. We based ourselves in Ardales, I posted pictures recently and will post more on our stay shortly. Ardales is an Andalucian village with typically white washed buildings and is 20 minutes drive from El Caminito Del Rey. You can stay here or base yourself in El Chorro as there are a few hotels there too but not many as they are small towns. For more detail on the trail, when it opens and how to book check out the main El Camino Tourist Site Page.

If you are coming from Malaga, the drive is about 2.5 hours. You can also take a train from Malaga which stops in El Chorro. There are two trains that leave daily from Malaga's Maria Zambrano station to El Chorro - Caminito del Rey. The first leaves at 10.05 - destination Ronda - and the second at 16.48 - destination Sevilla Santa Justa. Journey time is 40 minutes and a ticket costs 6€. There are three trains that return from El Chorro back to M├ílaga. Leaving at 9.33, 15.03 and 18.03 from El Chorro. When you finish your walk you can take the bus back to the starting point. These buses leave every 30 minutes. Also be sure you check the time for the last bus if you are starting your walk in the late afternoon.

Hiking Shoes - Keen //  Leggings - ASOS //  Top and Jean Shirt - H&M

The start of the walk in El Chorro with beautiful scenery from the small town where we parked the car for the day.

A short cut straight through the mountain to walk to the start of the trail.

Registration and collection of helmets. When you figure out a way to make helmets look cute, let me know.

See the little people? Perspective on just how big this place is.

Old and new trail above. Below the added a new glass platform. As if the trail and its soaring heights were not scary enough they added a glass platform.

The dancing bridge! This bridge dances with the wind as you cross which adds an element of yet more fun if you thought the newly restored trail was too tame.

Old and new trail.

El Chorro, Spain
El Chorro - Poema De Roca
El Chorro, Spain
El Chorro, Spain
El Chorro, Spain
El Chorro, Spain

Make sure you do not miss the last bus otherwise you will be waiting a while to get back to where you parked your car. So check the times of the last bus before starting your walk. We caught the bus back to where we are started the walk (top pictures and below.)

Back in time to see the colours of the sunset.

Video of our Walk on the Kings Little Pathway - El Caminito del Rey

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  1. This looks absolutely amazing! Your photos are gorgeous, I want to hop on a plane to Spain tonight to see it for myself!

    xx, Caitlin

    1. Thank you Caitlin.You should definitely see this place. Such a treat for the eyes.

  2. lovely photos they are beautiful