El Caminito del Rey – Spain’s Most Dangerous Hike
We are calling for climbers, mountain hikers and adrenaline junkies around the world to experience the Spain’s most dangerous hike on mount El Chorro Gorge. But if you are none of those, like me, do not worry. This might be interesting for you too. So what’s El Caminito del Rey and why it is dangerous? Glad you asked, keep on reading.
El Caminito del Rey, which translates into English as the King’s little pathway, is a walkway, attached along the steep walls of a narrow gorge in the province of Málaga, southern Spain. And when you hear Málaga, you think of sun, warmth, and beaches. But this is something completely different. It’s another adventure, a special experience you can have during your travels to the province.
Built in the beginning of the 20th century it provided a path for workers of two hydroelectric plants at Chorro and Gaitanejo Falls. The path was constructed more than 100m above the gorge and was opened by King Alfonso XIII in 1921 when he crossed the pathway to inaugurate the dam Conde Del Guadalhorce. Hence, comes the name.
The route was closed in 2000 for more than a decade, because of several people died with the attempt to cross it. It earned its ‘dangerous hike’ reputation through the adrenaline junkies who ignored the closure and dared to cross, in spite of a fine of €6,000 per person. The rehabilitation works started in 2011 and took four years to make a new, safe pathway.
Today, the wooden walkways are secured safely, but children under age of eight are not allowed on the path, so are the wheelchairs.
The beginning of the 7.7 km path is a boardwalk offering spectacular views of the turquoise Gualdalhorce River twirling below. Eventually, the path becomes a stony track that runs down and then slowly slopes upwards. There are some benches among the trees for the visitor to sit, take a breath and enjoy gorgeous views the gorge offers.
The pathway has two entrances from two opposite sides – from the northern Ardales or from the southern Alora. Despite the fact that the routes are identical, the height differences need to be taken into consideration. If starting from Alora side, you would need about 5 hours from start to finish, compared to 4 hours if started from the opposite side.
When planning your hike here, you need to consider the following:
- If you suffer from nervous disposition or vertigo, you should not pass the route
- Helmets provided upon entry should be kept on all the time
- There are no bathrooms on the route
- Have your own water and food
- Children should be accompanied at all times
- The route can be closed during high winds
- The pathway is linear – you start and end in two different places
- The bus connects those two sides and leaves every half an hour. Ticket costs €1,55.
- All the official information about El Caminito del Rey can be found here. You can even reserve tickets online.
Due to the well secured wooden walkway, it does not seem so scary anymore, unless you see the old path zigzagging beneath. Puzzled with holes and sections that have rusted long ago or fell into the gorge, it is hard not to think about those who passed through insecure path for years and those who lost their lives. An emotional reminder of its tragic past is present here: a workman eating his lunch and a memorial plaque of those three men who died in 2000 is bolted into the rock.
The new project might have stripped El Caminito del Rey off its reputation to be one of the dangerous pathways in the world, but it still is a great attraction. With breathtaking scenes will stay with you long after you’ve walked away from the hanging road. It might not be a superb adrenaline booster anymore, but if you seek for some excitement mixed with the great nature then this is the place for you.