The Caminito Del Rey is a world-famous walk, sections of which are suspended 100m above ground along the Desfiladero (gorge) de los Gaitanes in Malaga, Spain. Since seeing a TV programme about this incredible walk, it’s been on our bucket list, and we finally ticked it off this autumn. The easy 7.7km walk can only be done in one direction from north to south, and to manage visitor numbers (even more important in these social-distancing times), you must book a timed entry slot. I booked tickets online, which cost approximately 12 euros per person including the shuttle bus transfer. I also recommend following the Caminito Del Rey on Facebook or Twitter to keep up to date with any changes, as they do close it at short notice if the weather is unsuitable on the day.
It’s possible to do the walk as a day trip by train from Malaga city to El Chorro, or as part of an organised tour. However, we wanted to do it independently, and drove from Murcia to the province of Malaga in approximately 4 hours, allowing sufficient time to get to the start of the walk to make our slot – it’s recommended you allow about an hour from arriving at El Chorro, to the time slot on your ticket. We parked at El Chorro station, validated our tickets at the small booth outside the station car park, and caught the shuttle bus (which runs every 30 minutes) to the starting point at Ardales where it drops you by the El Kiosko café. From there, it’s a short walk (clearly marked) down the road towards the ‘small tunnel’ carved into the rock, proceed through the tunnel and from there it’s a very pleasant and scenic 15-20-minute walk along the forest path to get to the walk control point by the hydro-electric dam. Here we checked in, and got our mandatory hard-hats (complete with a hygienic hair-net). There are also toilets here at the control point if required – there are none along the actual route itself.
At our allotted time, we were allowed through the gates to the first section of the walk – in single file along the suspended walkway that hugs the right hand side of the spectacular steep sided wall of the gorge on either side of the Guadalhorce river below. Along the way there are points of interest and informational signs, but the experience of walking along the gorge walkway itself is thrilling. You do need a head for heights, but the walkway is very safe, and only closes if the weather is forecast to be wet or windy. The construction of this new walkway was completed in 2015. Below some sections, you will see the original walkway, which was used as a maintenance service path for hydro-electric engineers to access the Conde Del Guadalhorce reservoir, one of the five dams that make up the hydroelectric system in this area. This original path was completed in 1921, with the occasion of the last stone being laid marked by a visit from King Alfonso XIII, and thus the path was named El Caminito Del Rey (The King’s Little Path) in his honour.
After completing the first gorge section, the walk opens out into an easy, level forest path that follows the course of the river below. Further signs provide information about the flora, fauna and geology of the valley.
Presently you enter the second gorge section of the walk, along another suspended walkway. This is still spectacular, with a couple of interesting sections, one with a glass floored balcony suspended out over the river below, and one with a suspension bridge across the gorge to the other side. Only one or two people are allowed on these sections at any one time for safety so you may have to wait a few minutes for your turn! Also look out for eagles soaring above the mountain tops.
Eventually you reach the final section of the walk and pass through the exit gate, where it is an easy walk downhill and back to the village of El Chorro where you started from. There are a couple of bars and café’s in the village, including one at the station, to offer refreshments. A fantastic walk, beautiful weather, and stunning scenery all combined to make a truly memorable day.
Information and booking: “www.caminitodelrey.info”:http://www.caminitodelrey.info/en/