The early morning sun is a blinding ray of light through the narrow gorge as we walk along the boardwalks clinging to the side of the vertical cliff. Many metres below our feet, the Guadalhorce river rushes on, slowly digging deeper into the canyon.
The track alters between tight gaps and stunning views. And the old, abandoned track is sometimes visible: broken, bad and dangerous and a reminder of a time not so long ago, where people lost their lives on the World’s Most Dangerous Walkway. The Caminito del Rey.
Today, it’s safe and easy to do The Caminito del Rey. It was extensively restored in 2015 and you’re equipped with a helmet and hairnet when entering. Because when you’re busy minding the view, you’re not always paying attention to the razorsharp cliffs at your head.
As for difficulty, it’s probably the easiest walk to do in the nature park of Desfiladero de los Gaitanes an hour’s drive Northwest of Malaga in the South of Spain. My 66 year old mother with 2 bad knees was ready to do the 7,5 km walk again when it ended. That just proves, that you don’t need an athlete’s physique do get this amazing experience. All you need is an appetite for adventure.
The 3-hour walk has very few stairs and leads level through the canyon. As the boardwalk is hugging the steep walls of the canyon, you’re awarded with one awesome vista after another, whether it’s looking into the abyss below your feet at the glass-floored lookout point, squinting at the sun when you exit the shadowy gorge and step into the sunlight or admiring the scenery. It’s magical journey, that takes you back to your favourite Indiana Jones or old Western movies.
It’s the Guadalhorce river, that has dug out this amazing canyon in a span of millions of years. In some places, the canyon is only 10 metres wide. In other spots it’s more than 700 metres deep. The original boardwalk was constructed back in 1905 and functioned as a service path between the hydroelectric power plants at Chorro and Gaitanejo falls. King Alfonso XIII himself crossed the walkway in 1921 for the inauguration of the dam Conde del Guadalhorce and hence forward it became known by its present name: Caminito del Rey, The King’s little Pathway.
It’s a mere 10€ fee to do the tour, and if you’re considering how much bang you get for the buck, it’s a bargain! You have to buy the tickets online, which can be a bit confusing, as there are lots of options and it’s in Spanish. Choose the “Entrada General” option, the desired dates and times of your visit and number of tickets. I recommend to buy the combined ticket and bus ticket. You’ll need that one to get back to you car, as the walk is one-way. For some reason you need to enter your passport number to book the tickets. And bring your passport and credit card with you on the trip.
I recommend you park the car near the Northern Entrance at the Guadalhorce reservoir. There are many good restaurants here with great views of the waters, where you can enjoy a lunch after the hike. Take into consideration the 15 minutes walking time from your car to the Northern entrance, so you’ll get there in good time. Dont want to miss your window of opportunity, right?
When you’ve done the walk and exit at the Southern Entrance, head up the road where a bus service runs continuously almost every half hour and brings you back to the Guadalhorce reservoir. Here, let the impressions settle over nice meal on a sun-soaked terrace.
Don’t know if you’re up for it? You can actually take a Virtual Boardwalk through Google Maps. You can start at the beginning or jump to some of the really fun stuff. And don’t worry: they’re done fixing the walkway when you get there! And if you’re looking for a place to stay near the Caminito del Rey and in driving distance from Seville, Cordoba, Granada and Malaga, check out the family owned Andalucia Vacation, that has 4 properties nearby the pueblo blanco town Álora.
- Caminito del Rey official website
- Caminito del Rey on Wikipedia
- Track description (in Spanish) and GPS information in Wikiloc
- Video of Caminito del Rey on mountainbike