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Most spectacular walk near Marbella (50 min)

If you like a hike and want to see something special, we recommend you definitely book the Caminito del Rey tour. Be on time because the tickets are sold out quickly online. We definitely booked this tour right away. Caminito del Rey, also known as the King's Little Path, is a stunning walkway located in the province of Málaga, Spain. This breathtaking path offers stunning views of the Gaitanes Gorge, and is a must-visit for nature lovers, thrill-seekers, and adventure enthusiasts.

Table of contents

Introduction

The Caminito del Rey was originally built between 1901 and 1905 to provide access for workers to the hydroelectric power stations in the area. It was named after King Alfonso XIII, who walked the path during its inauguration. Today, the Caminito del Rey is a popular tourist destination and attracts thousands of visitors every year. It is considered one of the most beautiful and challenging walks in the world. It is located about 60 km above Málaga. From Marbella you can drive to the north entrance (acceso norte) in just over an hour and from Málaga in just under an hour.

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What to Expect

The Gaitanes gorge path spans 3 km and is situated approximately 100 metres above the Guadalhorce river. The trail commences in the Ardales municipality, traverses through Antequera, and culminates in El Chorro. It is a narrow path that hangs over the river below and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding cliffs, waterfalls, and vegetation. The path is made of concrete and steel, and is supported by metal beams and anchors. The walkway is narrow in some places and can be quite challenging, but it is well worth it for the stunning views. To reach the starting point, you need to park your vehicle some distance away, and at the conclusion of the hike, you also need to walk a short distance to the shuttle bus. In total, The Caminto del Rey is a 7.7 km long walkway. The trail is a unidirectional route from north to south, and upon reaching the endpoint, one can take a shuttle bus back for a fee of €1.60.

Start point

From the parking lot, it is about a 1.5 km walk to the starting point. If you continue 50 metres past the car park on the right side of the road, you will see the entrance to a cave with a sign saying Caminito. This tunnel is short, and as soon as you exit, you arrive at a wide walking path with a breathtaking view of the river and the mountains.

After a 10 to 15 minute walk, you will arrive at the starting point. Here, there are vending machines where you can purchase drinks or go to the toilet. However, this is the only opportunity to do so until the end of the route.

We advise you to download or print your tickets in advance as there is no reception available. If you didn’t do it before arriving, you may need to stand in line at the ticket office to have your tickets printed. When reserving your ticket, you will be asked for your ID or passport, which you must take with you for the walk.

Every group is around 20 people, and every 10 mins a new group gets access to Caminito del Rey. First, each individual is provided with a helmet, which is mandatory. Subsequently, a brief explanation is given before embarking on the half-hour walk to the starting point of the Caminito del Rey route. Let's begin!

The Caminito del Rey tour

At the starting point you immediately see the impressive Gaitanejo power plant and the dam. Electricity was generated by the 2 waterfalls. In 1921, King Alfonso XIII officially opened and travelled the path. Since then it has been called 'Caminito del Rey' or 'King's Path'. From this vantage point you can already enjoy a stunning view of the gorge and the river, as they are situated at a considerable height. In the beginning you walk in a crowd with many people, but this becomes less as the duration of the walk.

The walk comprises three sections. During the first part, you walk past the waterfall at the start of the narrow gorge, with the towering rocks high above you. The route alternates between wooden platforms and a concrete path, while you traverse through the unique landscape.

During the 1920s, this was the only mode of transport to reach the next village, and it was crucial for children to attend school, meet their basic necessities and interact with other villagers. Beneath the wooden decking, one can clearly observe the old path, which was less than a metre wide. There were railings installed in certain areas during that time, but it is evident how dangerous the walk was.

In 1992, the trail was officially closed to prevent fatal accidents. The first part was even dismantled, to prevent adventurers from venturing into it. Despite this, a few brave souls still attempted the route, which ultimately resulted in four deaths.

In 2014, renovation work began on the Caminito del Rey. The trail was widened, and handrails, stairs and anchorages were added to the wall. In 2015, the route was reopened to the public.

In the second part, the gorge widens, and the trail leads through more wooded areas on a flatter path. This section is perfect for taking a break, as it is less windy when the wind blows. Along the way, one can marvel at the train tracks, which traverse through multiple tunnels, and observe a helicopter platform situated somewhere in the middle, named after it during the renovation.

In our opinion, the final part of the walk is the most awe-inspiring. During the third part, one arrives at a narrow section of the gorge, about 100 metres above the river. On this part of the path you even have a piece of walkable glass where you can see the abyss below your feet. After following a winding path, you will arrive at the famous suspension bridge and waterfall. The bridge can sway significantly in the wind, and one can peer through the grid on the bridge's floor to observe the abyss below. The view from this suspension bridge is truly incredible, with the gorge on one side and the river on the other. This image will forever be etched in my mind!

The End

After the suspension bridge it is a short distance up a flight of stairs and there, in principle, the Caminito del Rey culminates at a wooden house located at this spot. However, you still need to walk around 1.5 km to reach the location where they can return their helmet and board the shuttle bus. The bus departs every half hour for the parking lot on the north side. During this part of the walk, you can enjoy the stunning view of the gorge.

9 Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Walk

Before you set off on your Caminito del Rey adventure, here are some tips to help you prepare for the walk:

  1. Make sure you have downloaded your tickets on your phone or printed. Otherwise you have to get in line at the cash register to get them printed.
  2. Turn on your navigation to the parking lot on the north side (acceso norte).
  3. Hike the Caminito del Rey in the spring or fall. The temperature is then most pleasant and the air is often very clear.
  4. There can be a strong wind in the gorge. Dress in layers that you can take off if you find it too hot.
  5. Wear a hat and sunblock. The sun can be intense, especially in the summer months, so it is important to protect yourself from the sun's harmful rays.
  6. Bring a camera. The views along the Caminito del Rey are truly breathtaking, and you won't want to miss the opportunity to capture the memories.
  7. Wear comfortable and sturdy shoes. The path can be slippery in some places, so it is important to wear shoes that provide good traction and support.If you put on sneakers, this is more than enough. Hiking boots are not necessary here. It is forbidden to wear flip-flops during this hike.
  8. Bring some money with you for the parking and the shuttle bus.
  9. Bring plenty of water and snacks. It is important to stay hydrated and fueled during the journey.

Is this hike suitable for everyone?

Children aged 8 and above are allowed to walk the Caminito del Rey, but those aged between 8 and 18 must be accompanied by a supervisor. Furthermore, it is suitable for anyone who is not afraid of heights and has a normal basic condition. You walk about 100m above the river and the path is attached to the edge of the gorge so if you think that's safe this is definitely for you.

Parking

It is ideal to park your vehicle in the parking lot of 'acceso norte', where you are required to pay a fee of € 2,-. Alternatively, one can park their car along the roadside for free. Initially, only the parking lot on the north side of the Caminito del Rey was available. However, with the surge in visitor numbers, a parking lot on the south side, known as 'acceso sur', was established. It is noteworthy that one can only traverse the route from north to south. Therefore, if you choose to park in the south lot, you must first board the shuttle bus to reach the starting point.

Ticket price

A ticket for the Caminito del Rey costs €10 each. A ticket with an official guide is €18, then you walk in a group of up to 18 people. The 'accesso norte' car park is €2,- and the shuttle bus is €1.60 per person.

Conclusion

The Caminito del Rey is a spectacular walk that offers breathtaking views of the Gaitanes Gorge. Whether you are a nature lover, thrill-seeker, or adventure enthusiast, this walk is a must-visit for anyone looking for a unique and unforgettable experience. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to embark on an amazing journey through one of the most beautiful and challenging walks in the world.

Simone Loeff
Author: Simone Loeff

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