It’s been called ‘The World’s most Dangerous Footpath’ and the ‘One of The World’s Scariest Hikes’.
But after the Caminito del Rey reopened in 2015 following a 4 year restoration project it is now much more of a scenic walk than the terrifying trek of years gone by.
The route is around 7km long and the terrain is made up of pathways through forest and woodland. But the majority of the route is on a very secure wooden platform firmly attached to the steep sides of the El Chorro gorge in the Guadalhorce valley of Malaga.
Still not convinced it’s safe enough??? If my ‘terrified of heights’ husband can do this trek, anyone can.
Getting to the Caminito del Rey
Getting to the Caminito del Rey is easy, around an hour in-land from Malaga by car or by train from Malaga’s Maria Zambrano station to El Chorro.
The train journey is direct, fast and cheap at just €4.85 for a one way ticket taking just 42 minutes direct. Several trains run throughout the day every day so be sure to coincide your train time with the time of your walk.
Tourists and locals have been coming to the area around the Caminito for years, especially in summer time when the turquoise reservoirs offer much needed respite from the hot sun. There are also water sports including a giant inflatable water park on the lake from June to September.
There are plenty quaint little campsites, b&b’s and guest houses in the area known as the Guadalhorce valley. The landscape is unique, breathtaking in fact and its all just so peaceful and calm.
How to book your tickets
Spaces are limited for the Caminito del Rey for safety reasons and they only allow around 50 people every half hour. Slots are released in 3 or 4 month batches and weekends get booked up quickly so there’s no point in just turning up hoping to get a slot. You really must book ahead.
Booking is easy, just go to the calendar on the official site, choose your date and time and select the number of tickets you want. Don’t forget to add the 1.55 euro bus fare, I’ll explain why a bit later. Pay with a credit card and print off the confirmation e-mail to take with you.
We finally did the walk on a sunny but cold Saturday afternoon in December after our previous booking a year earlier was aborted when my daughter woke up covered in chicken pox spots that morning.
By the way, if you can’t make it for any reason, they don’t offer refunds or alternative dates. It’s tough luck basically as we found out after we were a ‘no show’ the first time.
Weather in Ardales, as its in land can be a few degrees cooler in winter than down on the coast and in summer expect it to be hotter, so be sure to check the forecast. On the day of our walk temperatures in Malaga were 16 degrees but only 12 degrees in Ardales that day.
I was glad I threw an extra layer into the boot of the car just before we set off because with the blustery wind it felt much colder.
Arriving at the Caminito del Rey
Before I get on to parking, I should mention that the walk is linear and therefore when you book tickets you must book the 15 minute bus journey back. It only costs an extra €1.55 pp and is well worth it otherwise you are pretty much stranded at the end of the walk if you don’t book it.
You can book the bus at the same time you book your entrance ticket. Once you select your date and time, choose ‘Entrada general + Autobus’, the price you pay per person will be 11.55 euros.
So there are two ways to do this, the most logical thing to do is this…drive to the North entrance, park your car and start the walk through the entrance tunnel. When you finish the walk at the other side hop on the bus outside the train station. This is the South end and it takes you right back to your car where you started.
Or if you give yourself plenty of time before your allotted time slot, park at the south end which is where you will end the walk, take the bus to the north/start that way when you finish the walk at the south end you are back at your car…confused???
We chose the first option as we wanted to grab a bite to eat before starting the walk which was scheduled for 2pm, and knew there were some restaurants at the north entrance. There is a restaurant on the roadside facing the lake called El Kiosko, you can’t miss it.
In fact you should look out for it as next to the restaurant is a little tunnel which you need to go through to start the Caminito del Rey.
We arrived about 12.30pm and ventured upstairs at El Kiosko where they had a huge open fire so we grabbed a table right next to it and ordered. Portions were huge and we found it a bit much before embarking on a 7k hike.
There is a snack bar downstairs and also a grab and go type counter where you can pick up supplies like water, canned drinks, snack bars etc to take with you. There are also toilets downstairs at the entrance to the tunnel.
Allow yourself plenty of time
From this point (the tunnel), you still need to allow yourself 30 minutes before your time slot as this is NOT the start of the Caminito del Rey. It’s a 2.5 km scenic walk through forest to reach the starting point which will take 30 minutes at least.
Once at the starting point there were already loads of people waiting and there are staff to check your tickets, give you helmets and put you in the correct group. There are a lot of people that are part of guided tours which you can also book through the website, the tours are in English and Spanish.
Next they separate people into English and Spanish speakers for a brief safety instruction where the guide told us to allow around 2.5 hours to complete the walk, then you are off on your way.
Almost immediately we came to a stretch of the route where the footpath changes to wooden slats secured on top of steel rods which are pinned into the side of the mountain. There’a a mesh fence and handrail about waist high and most of this is suspended around 100 feet up.
It was only at this point I realised my husband of 12 years or so was actually really terrified of heights, this was real proper fear written all over his face.
Obviously, I laughed and told him it was 100% safe and to get on with it as we had another 5km to go, we had come too far to turn back.
The scenery along the route is amazing, my husband missed out on most of it because he could barely look up or down. The vultures, buzzards and eagles circling above are ever present and I wondered if they were there waiting patiently for victims to fall.
As mentioned, the footpath fell into disrepair years ago and was closed in 2000 as it was so dangerous. You can actually see the original path complete with holes, rusty metal poles and huge sections missing right below as you walk the new pathway.
Terrifying to think adrenaline junkies attempted this walk while it was in disrepair despite the €6000 fine not to mention the huge risk involved. Memorials are displayed to acknowledge 4 of the climbers that lost their life….
No fear now though, It is completely safe once again and very well organised from start to finish.
The Walkway of Death
About 2km from the end as the path snakes around a bend it reaches a crucial point where walkers cross from one side of the gorge to the other. The only way to do this is by walking over a suspended bridge about 10 metres in length and hundreds of metres high known as ‘The Walkway of Death’.
I’ve included a video showing a great overview of what to expect!
There are guides either side of the bridge making sure that everyone crosses safely. These guides also give the option for those too scared the option to turn back
I loved this part, it was such a great opportunity to take photos and video from all angles. Suspended mid air between the rock face with absolutely nothing interrupting your view.
The Walkway of Death.
Once safely on the other side and during the final km stretch, the Caminito takes a dramatic path along a very straight and narrow cliff, then finally comes back to solid ground for the final few hundred metres.
There are some information boards explaining how and when it was built and about the restoration, stop and look at them as they helps you appreciate the almost impossible task of its construction.
Getting back to your car
All that is left to do is follow the signs for the El Chorro train station, its easy as its a straight road. Pass the car park and a camp site, then you’ll see the train station on the left with a handy little bar to grab a quick drink.
Next to the station is where you pick up the bus to take you back to the start. There were already people waiting when we arrived and a bus had just pulled in however there was no room for us so we had to wait 30 minutes for the next one.
If you have a little bit of time a fantastic place to grab a bite to eat and a drink is La Garganta Hotel and restaurant right opposite the bus stop. Walk round to the outside terrace for direct views of the Caminito and a well earned drink.
I really wish I had known about this hotel before our visit as it’s the perfect location to the Caminito del Rey to stay over for a night or two and explore the area more. It has so much rustic charm and gorgeous views over the lake and the final stretch of the Caminito del Rey.
I’ve rounded up the best hotels and accommodation ideally located to explore this amazing national park area
The bus was punctual and journey back to the car and north entrance took only about 15 minutes. The bus takes you just past the car park and drops you right at El Kiosko and the entrance tunnel to the start of the route.
All in all the walk took a total us of 2 hours 30 minutes, including the short walk leading to the start of the Caminito del Rey.
If I could summarise, this walk is as close you will ever come to feeling like you are part of a Indiana Jones movie. The clear glass viewing platform, if you dare to step onto it is a reminder of how unnaturally high up you are, even more apparent if you are afraid of heights.
It is unlike any other place you will ever go to and eve though some say it has lost its edge, if you are an adrenaline junkie then I believe you cannot come to the Malaga region and not walk the Caminito del Rey.
Bring plenty water, snacks and sunscreen
Small backpack (large bags are not allowed)
Comfortable clothing and footwear (hiking shoes are best)
Pets are not allowed
There are no toilets along the path
The walk will occasionally close in the event of bad weather – refunds are not offered
Thank you for this review!
I will go there next week with my boyfriend, I think I am like your husband, but I hope I will be able to overcome my fear and enjoy Caminito Del Rey!
We will go there with train and after hike we will have few hours till the train back, is it possible to explore lakes near this place by foot? 🙂
Hi. My friend is actually terrified of heights and almost didn’t go despite having booked it weeks in advance. He is so glad he did it, you will be too I hope and you’ll be super proud of yourself if you do!
If you get the bus back to to the North entrance or starting point then there is a huge beautiful lake to explore, there are some water sports too depending on the time of year. Also many cafes with beautiful views across the lake if you feel like just resting and taking in the scenery.
At the south end, where you will finish the walk, pop into the reception of La Garganta hotel, they will give you some information on other walks around the area and the lake there. There’s plenty to do to fill the rest of your day.
Enjoy and you never know you might get over your fear of heights!
Hi, you mention the train to El Chorro, how far is the walk entrance from there. Phil
The El Chorro train station is at the South end of the Camino walk (where the walk ends), you need to get to the North entrance which is the start. You can pre-book the bus at the same time you get your ticket for the Camino del Rey but i believe you can also just pay the driver when you get there. The bus stop is right outside the train station and runs every 30 minute, it will take you directly to the North entrance (the start) in about 15 or 20 minutes. I think it costs about 1.50€ for the bus journey.
Hi Anna, thank you for your very detailed review of the Caminito del Rey which will help me plan my trip. I hope there will still be spaces available in late July 2019 and plan to book today.
I am travelling with a bunch of teens and want to know if the water activities on the lake need to be pre-booked, and if so how do I go about that from the UK?
hi Jillian. Thanks for your message. I hope you managed to get booked since July is not that popular with locals as it will be very hot. You will enjoy walking the Caminito del Rey it’s such an amazing thing to do.
Regarding water sports, I’m not aware of a facility to pre book, you can literally turn up, rent a kayak or peddle boat and off you go. Usually from June to September there is a huge inflatable water park out on the lake opposite to the entrance of the Camino del Rey tunnel. It’s a fantastic way to cool off and your bunch of teens will love it. It’s about 10 euros for an hour which is usually long enough.
Have a fantastic trip.
First saw this when on a day trip out around 8/9 years ago. The guide was pointing out the railway and telling how it featured in the film Von Ryan’s Express, they briefly mentioned the footpath saying it was closed as being dangerous. Looked it up on the internet when we got home viewed the video on YouTube and said I would like to walk it if it was ever restored. Got my chance last year and whilst some may consider it fairly tame compared to some walks (and would not disagree) it really is an excellent day out. I also am not a fan of heights even if I did use to work with a team running outdoor pursuits and mountain walking courses but never I felt nervous – perhaps it was the magnificent scenery that kept my mind off it. My wife for years has allowed herself to be dragged around various events supporting me said she had enjoyed it – now that is an endorsement.
Thanks for your comment Frank. I totally agree and know loads of people that are scared of heights and have plucked up the courage to do the Camino, all of whom said they were so glad they did it. My husband and father-in-law to name two. The scenery and surroundings, as you say are enough to take your mind off how high up you are. I do hope your wife enjoyed this one too, it really is a great day out!!
Anna we have booked for next Friday. I have a real fear of heights but love photography. Hoping the love of this will help me achieve this walk. After reading your blog we have booked the hotel for the night before. We will head up on Thursday and enjoy the area.
Looking forward to a great day out.
How did you enjoy it Margaret? Hope you had great weather and a fantastic stay.
Thank you for the detailed information which really helped with planning our trip. We managed to book the hotel at El Chorro which I didn’t know about. Originally we were due to return back to Ronda after our walk and the trains are very infrequent and finish early. The Garganta hotel has made our travel so much easier, staying there will make life so much more simple. We travel next week; Malaga, Ronda and then the Caminito. Fabulous.
That’s great to hear Michelle. It’s a fab hotel and makes everything about the walk so much easier since it’s right at the finish.
I’ glad you found my post useful in planning your trip and wish you a lovely stay in and around Malaga.
Thank you for this review I’ve just booked for me & my sister for January and although I’m scared., thanks for giving me a bit of courage. …
Alison. I know loads of people who put off doing this for many years and absolutely all of them have said how glad they were that they finally did it. I’m sure you’ll feel exactly the same. Just remember the bar at the hotel Garganta at the finish has great wine and beer, that will be enough to get you through it!
Thanks for reading and commenting 😉
I’m just wondering if it’s possible to start from the South Side cause we will be catching the train and walk back instead of catching the bus? Or we have a Tarjeta Transbordo can we use it on the bus?
hi Liz. When it first opened you could start at either the North or South side, unfortunately now you can only start at the North. So you would have to take the bus to the North side to start your walk. I believe you will have to buy the bus ticket, it’s about around €1.50 per person.
Thanks for the great article.
As soon as covid clears, this is going on my bucket List!
We took the train from Malaga and selected the option to include the guided tour – I would recommend this option to augment the audio guide once we can get into groups again. A must for any visit to Malaga.
Great to hear, glad you enjoyed it.
Brilliant blog, reading it has inspired us to book the walk. However I can’t see any option on the website to add the bus tickets. Am I missing something?!
Thanks Emily. You can add the tickets at the end of the booking process if I’m not mistaken, alternatively just wait at the bus stop when you finish your walk and as long as there are seats available you can pay the driver direct.
May I ask if it was easy to find corresponding train times to get there and back?
The trains run a few times a day, you can book at Renfe direct.
Hi Anna, I’ll be going on the walk tomorrow and though I do have mild vertigo I’m hoping the views will take my mind off that! The only tickets available were those without guides so I guess I’ll read up beforehand or after 🙂 Regarding the shuttle bus to take you back, there wasn’t the option to do this on the (hopeless) website, do you know if I can just pay the driver? Thanks for a great article!
Sorry for the huge delay in replying Ben! Hope you managed to pay the driver and take the bus, the website is pretty hopeless, I have to agree!
HI Anna we are looking to do this walk in May. We are staying at the Gran Miramar Hotel in the centre of Malaga – do you know approximately what the cost of a taxi would be to take us there for this walk. Alternatively do you know if there are excursions that pick up from points in the city. Thank you
I don’t know Diane. You can download the Uber app when you arrive and get a price for an Uber, alternatively you can get the train from Malaga as per my post.
Hello Anna! Can I stop at the North entrance by car from Malaga? then we would go back from the south entrance for the car. How long is the entrance from the north car park to the entrance? Thanks. Alex
You can park your car at the North entrance on the road side, its a 30 minute walk from the car park area to the start of the camino. Book the shuttle bus when you finish at the south side to take you back to your car.
Hi Anna, I just booked my October ticket today and am hoping I’ll make it in time from central Malaga. I’m due to start at 10:20 but was going to get the really early train. I’ve heard there are 2 entrances? Both are behind the kiosk restaurant, but one is much shorter? How much total time do you think train to el Chorro then shuttle, then tunnel will take? I’m interested to hear about Diana’s Uber because I may have to choose nuthatch option and then train back.
Thanks so much
Hi, it’s quite an early start you have booked. There is only one entrance to the Camino, this is the North, the walk finishes at the South and the South is where El Chorro train station is, so great for you getting home but it’s a good 15 minutes car/uber ride from South where you’ll get off the train to the north. Also factor in a 30 minute walk from where the taxi will drop you to the actual start of te Camino walk as you have to meander through the woods to get to the start. You are right in saying it’s behind the Kiosk bar/cafe, just be aware of the times mentioned. Pre-book a taxi or uber if you can as from memory there weren’t any taxis waiting by the train station, id hate for you to miss it. Maybe consider staying in the Garganta hotel the night before your walk, it’s opposite the train station and has very pretty views.
Will it be really hot walking the Caminito del Rey early to mid October starting around 10.30am or does the height make it breezy and cooler?
Hi Anne, it can still be hot early October, there are many shadu areas though throughout the walk and places to sit and rest if you get too hot.
Thanks for this fab info!
Do you know if there are taxis available at the finish, at El Chorro? We are likely to finish just as the bus schedule takes it’s 2 hour lunch break so don’t want to hang around that long to get back to our car near El Kiosko.
Hi Lisa, Im honestly not sure if there are taxi. The hotel Garganta over the road from the bus stop will likely call you one though if there aren’t any already waiting.