El Caminito del Rey – once known as the most dangerous walking path in the world or even at one time ‘the path of death’, is now a safe, secure and adventurous way to see the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes [Gorge of the Gaitanes]
If you are keen on hiking, rock climbing, or are just keen to see the amazing views from a pathway built onto the rock face of the gorge, then it is time to plan your holiday to Spain, first stop, Malaga.
The Caminito del Rey (The King’s Little Path) named after King Alfonso XIII’s first walk on the original path at the time of the inauguration of the dam in 1912. The path was built not as a tourist attraction but to provide access to the Conde de Guadalhorce dam for the workers, and also provide access for supplies. Building commenced in 1902. After construction was completed, the pathway was no longer a priority and over the years it slowly decayed, the hand rails fell away and the floor of the path, suspended above the 100m gorge, became treacherous with many portions missing.
Tempted by the danger and the challenge, many climbers attempted the gorge and sadly a number lost their lives. After the deaths of two climbers in 1999 and 2000 the local authorities closed off the path, but because of tourist demand eventually a reconstruction plan was instituted and the pathway was totally re-built.
The new pathway, which still offers the more adventurous a heart-stopping walk of 2.9 km along the side of the gorge. There are strict rules for those taking the walk, and so together with the safety features of the new structure you no longer take your life in your hands. In fact today, it is an exciting venue for the whole family, that is, if children are able to walk the distance.
The old path has been retained and is just below the new path, adding interest to your walk. The other high point is walking over the steel suspension bridge across the gorge, and because of its metal mesh floor you can look down and see the river below your feet.
How to get to El Caminito del Rey
To reach El Caminito del Rey you need to head for Malaga. Once in Malaga you can reach El Chorro (the throat of Chorro) area and you need to head for either Ardales or Alhora. You can reach these villages either by train, bus or hire car. If you want to go by train you would have to board the train at the Maria Zambrano station which is the main station in Malaga that connects to other major Spanish cities including the AVE trains. There is only 5 stops from Maria Zambrano station to El Chorro and will take you under and hour to get there. The train leaves at 10 am in the morning to El Chorro. Just keep in mind that the last train leaving El Chorro back to Malaga station leaves at 6 pm, so be sure to give yourself enough time to get back from the Caminito del Rey to the train station. You can also take the train directly from Sevilla to El Chorro at 7:40 am. It’s a hours 2 ride, with the last train leaving back to Sevilla at 5:30 pm.
To reach El Caminito you have a couple of kilometers to hike along the access paths before you get to the official entry point to El Caminito del Rey. So if your children are not old enough to manage this amount of walking, then they are not old enough to accompany you on the path. Bear in mind that after your walk you will have to retrace your steps which means that you will undertake a good 10kms altogether and depending on the speed you walk and how many photo stops you make, you can count on anything from 3 to 5 hours in total.
El Caminito del Rey is open to the public all year but from November to March the pathway is closed at 14:00 so you need to make sure that you are there in plenty of time to complete the walk.
Full information on the two official access routes and much about the path itself can be found on the official El Caminito del Rey website. http://www.caminitodelrey.info