Caminito del Rey

Also referred to as the “King’s Little Path”, El Caminito del Rey is a 3km long and 1m wide walkway that is situated more than 100m above the Guadalhorce River in Spain. The walkaway is situated along the steep and high walls of the Desfiladero de Los Gaitanes gorge in the small village of El Chorro, close to the town of Ardales in the Spanish province of Malaga. El Caminito del Rey was formerly considered as one of the most dangerous walkways in the world, but at present after extensive restoration, the walkaway is considered to be less dangerous. El Caminito del Rey is also one the most well-known hiking routes in Spain and attracts thousands of visitors every year.

About Caminito Del Rey

The El Caminito del Rey walkway
The El Caminito del Rey walkway pinned along the steep walls of a narrow gorge in El Chorro, near Ardales, in the province of Malaga, Spain. 

The Caminito del Rey hike begins from the Count of Guadalhorce Reservoir and runs through canyons, gorges, tall cliffs, and a large valley, before ending at the El Chorro Dam. This century-old trail is linear and runs in one direction downwards from north to south, with some parts of the trail on mountain paths while the other parts are on suspended walkways. The total 7.7km route that begins from the town of Ardales in the north and exits at Alora in the south takes an average person about 3 to 4 hours to complete. The El Caminito del Rey remains open to public from Tuesday to Sunday throughout the year. It remains closed on Mondays, on Christmas and on New Year Day. 

The end of El Caminito del Rey boardwalk coming out from the gorge.
The end of El Caminito del Rey boardwalk coming out from the gorge.  

There are about seven parts of the total route. These include a visitor reception area at the start that contains the El Kiosko Restaurant, car parking areas, and the final stop of the shuttle bus that runs from the trail’s northern to the southern end. Next, two access areas lead to the control cabin of the Gaitanejo Dam and the actual starting point of the El Caminito Del Rey trail. The longer path that starts from Sillon del Rey is 2.7km long, while the shorter path that starts with a smaller pedestrian tunnel is only 1.5km long. After reaching the walkways, the trail then passes through the Tajo de las Palomas canyon, the Gaitanejo Gorge, the Hoyo valley and the Puente del Rey hanging bridge. Next, the trail enters the Desfiladero de Los Gaitanes gorge via walkways that are suspended more than 100m above the ground. The path then continues to the final stretch boardwalk and to the exit. From here, there is a short 2.1km walk down to the El Chorro railway station.

Brief History

Visitors walking on the Caminito del Ray walkway along steep cliffs in Andalusia, Spain.
Visitors walking on the Caminito del Ray walkway along steep cliffs in Andalusia, Spain. 

The El Caminito Del Rey walkway was originally constructed in the early 1900s when Sociedad Hidroelectrica del Chorro proposed the construction of a trail through the gorges. The walkway was initially built for the maintenance workers to reach the hydroelectric power plants that were situated at the Chorro and Gaitanejo waterfalls as well as to carry the construction materials to the dam sites. The construction of the walkway started in 1901 and ended in 1905. In 1921, the walkway was crossed by Spanish King Alfonso XII on his way for the opening of the Conde del Guadalhorce reservoir, and since then the walkway has been referred to as the “King’s Little Path.”

People crossing the suspension bridge in Royal Trail (El Caminito del Rey) in gorge Chorro, Malaga province. Editorial credit: elRoce / Shutterstock.com.

In due course, the original path that was made of concrete and rested on steel rails deteriorated over time, and in several sections of the trail, the top concrete layer had completely collapsed. As a result, many people lost their lives on the walkway due to fatal accidents. The local government authorities decided to close both the north and south entrances of the El Caminito del Rey walkway. In June 2011, the local government of Malaga and the regional government of Andalusia agreed to share the restoration cost of the El Caminito Del Rey walkway. The extensive restoration work took about 4 years to complete and on March 29, 2015, the renovated safe walkway was reopened.

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