El Caminito del Rey - Complete Trekking Guide (With Pro Tips) - Mountain IQ

El Caminito del Rey – Complete Trekking Guide (With Pro Tips)

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If you are looking for information on the El Caminito del Rey (or the King’s Little Pathway), look no further.

We have curated the complete trekking guide for hike, so as to help you along your way.

While the 100 year old El Caminito del Rey was once known for being incredibly dangerous, its breath-taking views can now be enjoyed a variety of people, regardless of skill.

​Click here for a complete list of hiking trails in the ​Europe

Get a Trek Quote

We do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like to check prices and availability of ​El Caminito del Rey hike, click below.

​El Caminito del Rey Overview

​El Caminito del Rey -

Quick Facts

  • ​The path was nicknamed the world’s most dangerous hike after five people died between the years 1999 and 2000
  • While walking along the third gorge, you should be able to spot the 100 year old Maritime Juniper
  • The route will be closed when winds reach an excess of 35 km/h
  • The trek is known as the ‘King’s little path’ due to the fact that King Alfonso XIII crossed the walkway

Previously nicknamed the “world’s most dangerous hike” due to its state of disrepair which made it hazardous, the path was restored over a period of 4 years and was reopened in 2015.

The trek is now open and safe for tourists and hikers to visit, and the older, far more treacherous path can be seen below.

The old path was over 100 years old and 350 feet high, winding along steep limestone cliffs. Previously used as access to the hydroelectric power plants at Gaitanejo Falls and Chorro Falls, as well as a means to walk between and service the two.

The original walkway was a concrete path, clinging to the vertical cliff face - filled with holes and sections that collapsed, exposing the ground 100 meters below – it’s not difficult to see why serious restoration was needed.

A cable used to run the length of the path so that adrenaline junkie hikers and rock climbers could clip in with a harness.

Topography

The hike is situated in the province of Malaga, Spain, near Ardales. The path is located in a unique, diverse natural surroundings and when hiking you pass through gorges, canyons and valleys.

In total you will hike through three gorges, the final being the most spectacular due to the board ways built.

The gorges were created by the Guadalhorce River cutting through the dolomite and limestone. Stretching 3 km, and up to 300 m tall, they can be narrower than 10 m in some sections.

Wildlife and Plants

The area is home to a variety of fauna and flora. Specifically the area is home to notable birds such as the Egyptian Vulture, Golden Eagle and Honey Buzzard.

Animals such as Mountain Goat, Fox and Genet all inhabit the higher reaches.

There are a wide variety of plant life in the area, from various species of pine, to scrubs, such as junipers and rockroses, as well as rushes, poplars and willows that live on the riverbanks.

Hiking

Although previously very dangerous, after being restored the hike is now safe for all to enjoy.

The new path was opened in March 2015 and is a sturdy walkway with railing that stops potential accidents from happening. 

Below you can clearly see the old walkway, and it makes very easy to see why it was the world’s most dangerous hike.

The hike is any adventure seekers dream, providing you with spectacular views of the valley floor and river below.

While not the longest hike, you won’t regret ticking the El Caminito del Rey off your bucket list

Regional Map & Recommended Guidebook

If you are looking for further information on the hike, the El Caminito del Rey website​ provides detailed information on all aspects of the trek. From booking the hike, to the paths spectacular history, this website has you covered.

If you are specifically looking at making a booking this page shows you exactly which times are available for booking.

​El Caminito Del Rey


El Caminito del Rey Spain

Phto by Juanje Orío

  • Area: ​Province of Málaga, Spain
  • Permit: ​You need to book a ticket to hike the El Caminito
  • Difficulty: Moderate​
  • Distance: ​4.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: ​344.5ft
  • Days/Hours: ​3 - 4 hours
  • Best Time to Hike: ​The route can be hiked all year round and is open every Tuesday through to Sunday, however, March and April are the best time for plants
​Route Description

Due to the hikes natural surroundings it is not possible to reach the entrance by car and you will initially have to hike the first little bit to reach the beginning.

The entire journey is one that is breath taking, and the glasses sections of the walkway mean that you can see straight down into the valley (however, this may be nerve wracking if you have a fear of heights).

Being linear, the hike begins in the north and works downwards to the south. When completing the hike there is a bus service that connects the two ends of the hike, and leaves every half an hour.

You can easily buy the bus tickets when buying your tickets for the rest of the hike.

There are two access paths that lead to the beginning of the route, the one shorter than the other. The official path starts at the visitor reception centre where you will be given your mandatory hard hat, as well as experience gear checks.

The visitor’s reception was previously the Gaitanejo Hydroelectric Power Station.

The first of two big gorges along the hike is Gaitanejo Gorge, which is reached shortly after departing the visitors centre. As you walk along the boardwalks you will see beautiful natural phenomenon, such as the ‘pots’, created by erosion.

An exciting aspect of the hike is the hole in the cliff face that you will walk through, also known as El Lugar del Soto.

Hereafter you will walk through the second canyon, Las Palomas Cliff before walking through the Hoyo valley. The hoyo valley has three rest areas where you can choose to stop and catch your breath before continuing onwards.

The third gorge, Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, is the best known section of the hike, containing the 100 m hanging boardwalk. This section also includes a hanging footbridge and follows the original foot path just below.

As you continue onwards you will reach the ‘glass balcony’, which, as the name suggests is a glass balcony providing you with a bird’s eye view of the gorge below.

After crossing a footbridge you will reach the last section of the hike. This section is roughly 2 km long and is predominantly downwards, ending at the El Chorro Train Station. Don’t forget to drop off your hard at the end of the trek.

Accommodation

The route is situated in the province of Malaga, Spain. There are plenty of places to stay near the El Caminito del Rey, and you can easily find many options online.

We will name some of the best hotels in the area so as help you pick the best accommodation for you and your needs.

La Posada Del Conde is a rustic hotel roughly 5 km from the El Caminito del Rey and offers spacious rooms with lovely views.

Another option is Apartamentos Ardales are air conditioned apartments with exceptional ratings. The place is just over 8 km from the trek, making it conveniently close.

Castilla Hotel is situated slightly further away from the hike, but will give you good access to other surroundings, so can be useful if you plan on doing other things in the area.

​Trail Top Tips
  • ​There are no facilities or bathrooms along the way, so keep this in mind when you begin your trek.
  • Remember to take sufficient water and some snacks for along the way.
  • A camera is always a good idea, that way you can easily capture the amazing boardwalk and spectacular vistas.
  • If you have problems with height this may not be the hike for you.
Video Overview

Purple Peak Adventures Photography shows you what you can now expect from the trek, as well as the amazing views you will experience along the way.

Get a Trek Quote

We do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like to check prices and availability of​ ​El Caminito del Rey hike, click below.

Travel Insurance

​If an accident should occur that requires medical assistance and evacuation you will want proper hiking insurance that will cover the costs of air ambulance and treatment.

Medical teams and Rangers are always on duty to assist with medical emergencies at Yosemite.

This article on travel and hiking insurance proves great information on what type of insurance you need, as well as provides an easy quote calculator from a leading travel operator. 

Check out the World Nomads calculator for a quick calculation of the cost of travel insurance for your trip to the States.

Frequently Asked Questions

​Do I need a reservation to go on the El Caminito del Rey?

When is the best time to visit El Caminito del Rey?

​Is altitude sickness a risk?

​Is the El Caminito del Rey difficult?

​What gear do I need?

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