The one thing you need to know about the Caminito del Rey is that you really need to know about it.
It is one of the absolute must-do activities if you are thinking of spending any time in Inland Málaga. Take a walk on the adventurous side of life and take on this spectacular walkway that has become one of the jewels of Andalucia.
What is the Caminito del Rey?
The Caminito del Rey is a restored walkway once used by the workers at the hydroelectric power plants at the El Chorro and El Gaitenejo Falls as way of easily transport materials from one plant to the other. It was crowned the Caminito del Rey after King Alfonso XIII crossed the walkway in 1921, giving the passage it's name literally translated as the 'King's little Pathway.'
The Camino is known by most as the "world's most dangerous walkway" after five people died attempting the walk in 1999 and 2000. After these incidents, the walkway closed for over a decade for restorations and was re-opened in 2015 to the public.
Let's break down the Camino
There are two ways of doing the Caminito del Rey. There is the North-South route and the South-North route. When I went I took the North-South route (your ticket will tell you which way you're going to do it).
We parked at the top, right by where trusty Google Maps told us where the North Entrance was. There is very busy looking restaurant and access to some of the swimmable parts of the lakes which are just the most dreamy shade of turquoise blue you have ever seen. From here there is a sign pointing under a bridge stating 'Caminito del Rey: 2,7km'. This sign takes you through a beautiful scenic forest route to the official start of the Camino. It's a shady path where you'll see the beautiful waters peeping trough the tree trunks and feel like you've been transported to some magical land. This trail takes around 40 minutes depending on your walking pace.
When you get the official start of the Caminito del Rey you are given a helmet that must be warn throughout and this is where you hand over your tickets. The walks are done in groups and leave every 30 minutes or so.
The Caminito del Rey itself is split into three sections. First, a 1,5km boardwalk that snakes along the mountains and through the valley. Following the first wooden boardwalk is a scenic 1,4km walk through the Hoyo Valley, a great opportunity to check out the picturesque flora and fauna all explained on boards dotted along the path.
The final stage of the Camino is another 1,5km boardwalk and the most iconic part of the walk, the hanging bridge with a pretty epic view through the gorge.
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From here it's a 1km walk down to the bus stop, all sign posted. As the walk is linear and not circular, you will need to find a way of getting back to your vehicle after finishing the Camino. The best way is to catch the regular bus that goes back and forth to both ends of the Camino all day long. It's 1.50euros per person, so make sure you bring some change!
How difficult is it?
There are a couple of sections with steps and slight uphill climbs but all in all, the trail is pretty flat. You don't have to be a sportsman to take on the Caminito del Rey. And although the trail is long-ish, over 7km in total, you are too busy being in awe at the stunning scenery to notice that your feet are starting to tire.
Booking a ticket
You need to book your trip as far in advance as possible as tickets sell out really fast. You can purchase you ticket here. Tickets cost 10euros each (that doesn't include your bus fare) and make sure you print it out and take it with you on the day.
How do I get there?
The best ways of getting to the Caminito is by car. If you type in to Google maps, 'Caminito del Rey Acceso Norte, Ardales', the map will take you straight to the North Entrance and restaurant where there is plenty on parking all up the road.
Tips and advice
- Take plenty of water with you.
- If it's forecasted to be a sunny day, don't forget to bring sun protection.
- Pack some form of snack for the walk. This could be fruit, nuts or some sort of cereal bar; great for keeping your energy up.
- Bring your swimming gear with you. A dip in the lakes is a fantastic way to refresh your body and cool down after you've finished the walk.