You might have heard of hiking the Caminito del Rey, a walking/hiking track in the Andalusia region in the South of Spain. There might be travel guides, where this hike is described as one of the most challenging in the world because it used to be. However, the path wasn’t maintained as it didn’t have a use plan anymore and therefore the hike became more and more dangerous over time, with even deaths as a result.
However, the path has been fully renovated and reopened in 2015. This means it is now accessible to everyone and it even is quite an easy walk. The great thing is, most of the old path is still visible.
First of all, you need to buy a ticket well in advance as they tend to sell out. We bought a ticket almost the moment we booked our flight and were lucky to still find a spot during the Christmas break. You can book your entry slot here. Tickets are €10 per person.
The hike is 7,7km from the start to the endpoint. You can only start the hike at the North end of the trail, as it is a one-way hike. At the end of the trail, you can take a shuttle bus back to the parking lot at the North (Ardales). Another option is to park/arrive by train at the South end (El Chorro) and take the shuttle before you start. The boardwalk along the cliffs is 2,7km in total. As said before, you’ll not only hike the boardwalk, so keep this in mind. There are different Georges with open areas and great views in between. In total, you’ll need 3 to 4 hours for the whole experience.
Most importantly, so I’ll mention it again: buy your tickets upfront. Also, bring your ID card that goes with the ticket. Next to that, you have to wear proper shoes (sneakers are fine). Along the trail, there are no toilets or food stalls, so make sure you’ll have something to eat and drink with you. Especially in the summer months, it can be really hot and you’ll need some water. And be prepared, helmets are handed to you at the start and are mandatory.
During our trip to Andalusia, we rented a car for the whole trip. I can fully recommend this! You can drive to the car park in the North. From there, it is still a 1-hour walk to the entrance, so make sure you’ll make it on time to the start. A visitor centre will open. So from then on, you’ll be able to park at the visitors centre, from where a shuttle will bring you to the start of the trail.
By train: When you are going on a day trip from Malaga, you’ll best take the train. There is only one train per day going to El Chorro, which would be your arrival station. There are only 2 trains back, so make sure you plan the time on your ticket and your trains well. Check out the timetables here.
As pictures say more than words – below you’ll find a photographic overview of the hike. Would you be up for it?
As you can see, the views on the hike towards the starting points are quite scenic as well. There were two routes from the parking lot towards the entrance of which one is around 1,5km and one covers 3km. You’ll walk through some woods and open areas that reward you with these views. So, don’t be afraid this is just a ‘must do’ part of the trail as it is quite pretty.
And.. we’re off! After the entrance, where you receive your helmets, you’ll just follow the boardwalk to the Georges and you’ll enjoy great views. The water is pretty and the scenery is stunning. As you can see, you’ll hike the trail with some other people and you might have to wait as crossing others can be quite hard.
I wasn’t too bothered with the amount of public though, as I feel the amount of tickets they sell makes sense and will make sure the paths don’t get overcrowded.
Next to walking the boardwalk along the cliffs and in the Georges, you’ll also pass enough open spaces that leave you with a different perspective on the area every time.
Some of the old and original paths of the trail are still there, as you can see with this bridge. When you see it, you’ll feel relieved you don’t have to cross this bridge.
This is a sneak peek of the other type of trial you’ll have to walk. As you can see, paths are well maintained. It slightly elevates on some occasions, but I would classify the walk as easy.
During the final bit of the hike, you’ll follow the boardwalk again. A bridge (more decent than the old one, I promise) will lead you to the other end of the gorge, where the train station El Chorro is located. Sometimes, you’ll have to queue here for a bit as the bridge is a bit wobbly and cannot be accessed with several people at the same time.
I’m not sure how I should describe my own opinion on the hike. I liked it, the views are stunning and the boardwalk is well maintained the hike through the gorges is a special experience.
I never in my life would have dared to do the hike without this well-maintained path. However, it feels more like a tourist attraction than like a day hike – and in my opinion, it is slightly too tourist. However, I would recommend it when you have some time to spend in Andalusia or a long weekend in Malaga when you want to get out of the city for a different activity.