Hey Babe, Take a Walk on the Wild Side
Itching for a walk on the wild side?
Then a hike on the El Caminito del Rey (King’s little path) is one for you, especially if you like killer scenery, precarious heights, and cool history.
Located in southern Spain, about an hour from Malaga, this former death-defying trail runs along the stunning Guadalhorce River gorge in El Chorro.
Once called “the most dangerous path in the world.” The Caminito spans roughly eight kilometres and takes about three hours to complete. Most of the walk is traversing a three-foot-wide wooden path, suspended 100 meters (300 feet) in the air, bolted to the side of a limestone cliff. “27 deaths and 74 serious injuries” have occurred since the El Caminito was initially built.
When parts of the original terrifying trail crumbled in the eighties, it was closed to the public. But that didn’t stop people from coming. The area is a known mecca for rock climbers and daredevils who would not be deterred. These thrill seekers still found a way in through an iron railway bridge at the sound end of the gorge. When five climbers fell to their death around the millennium, the Government blasted away a chunk of the trail and closed off the path.
The Caminito Today
During the fourteen-year closure, the Government of Spain spent millions of dollars revamping the trail and making it accessible for almost everyone. Today, visitors must wear caskos (helmets) to trek the newly safe and highly engineered route. The new path comprises solid wood planks, galvanized steel supports, and a sturdy cable and steel railing network. The spectacular path runs through cliffs, canyons, and a large valley and has dramatic views every step of the way. The towering walls of Desfiladero (gorge) de los Gaitanes reach 700 metres in places. The area is home to a variety of flora and fauna and animal life. You’ll likely see massive vultures swooping above the gorge’s peaks and hear the Spanish-painted frog’s distinct croak as you wind through the path. Although the path is 100% safe and secure – If heights aren’t your thing – this walk is not for you. This baby will launch vertigo sufferers into the seventh circle of hell.
Note: You must be over eight years of age to walk the Caminito and able-bodied to complete the trail.
- Bring sunscreen and water.
- There are no bathrooms or rubbish bins on the route.
- It’s a one-way trek – from north to south. Once you start, you’re committed.
- There are kiosks at the start and end of the pathway and bathrooms.
- La Garganta Restaurant is a good place to lunch at the trail’s end.
- Dress in layers.
The Caminito was initially built in the early 1900s to facilitate a hydroelectric project to support the boom of Malaga. The project consisted of a dam, a canal and long aqueduct tunnels. In 1921, King Alonso VIII inaugurated the project and walked a portion of the trail. Hence the name. Which is known locally as El Caminito.
You can see the ruins of the workers’ homes along the path. Many of them had large families. These children would walk along their original Caminito to get to school. Every damn day!
Tickets must be purchased in advance. There are a few slots for self-guided tours. Yet most times are reserved for guided tours. The hike is available Tuesday through Sunday and is closed for Christmas and New Year. The trail is also closed for inclement weather (heavy rain). Our guide, “Mariaclimber,” was super knowledgeable and excellent.
Parking is confusing. The walk ends at the south end of the trail. However, it is a one-way path. So, it’s a serious schlepp back to your car. There is a shuttle bus. You will need to take it. It runs every 30 minutes, starting on the hour. It costs 2 Euros, and you must pay in cash—park at the trail’s north end. A small parking lot called: Puerto de la Caminito is the closest parking place—alternatively, park at La Kiosko. FYI, you are 2.7 Km from the ticket gate from La Kiosko and 1.5 Km from the Puerto parking lot. Give yourself lots of time to park and walk. Or to wait for a shuttle bus if you decide to park in one of the other lots. Wherever you park, you’ll still have to walk. There is an ATM at the La Kiosko.
It is absolutely worth it. It’s 10 Euros for a self-guided tour and 18 Euros with a guide. Worth every dime.
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2 thoughts on “El Caminito del Rey – A Walk on the Spanish Wild Side”
absolutely worth it! I could do this hike even more than once and would highly recommend to anyone
Sounds fun. What could possibly go wrong. The survival rate is nice and high!