After our almost 2 months in the Canary Islands, we started a smooth return to Switzerland (understand by this that we gradually went up in terms of latitude to go down little by little in terms of temperature 😉 ). If we came to Malaga it was on the one hand because we had never set foot in Andalusia before, but also and above all because an excellent friend of ours came to live there last spring and we wanted to visit her. We’ll surely prepare a very complete article about the beautiful city of Malaga and all our good addresses (being with our friend, we have a long list of tapas bars and small restaurants), but today we thought we’d take you on a hike (for a change haha) and make you to discover the Caminito del Rey.
Caminito del Rey, a brief historical introduction
When you see the topography of the Chorro Gorge, you wonder how some people got the idea to make a path through it… In fact, before it was a tourist attraction, the small path of the king (Caminito del rey) was a pure access path. It was built in the early 1900s to allow the construction of 2 hydroelectric dams.
In 1921 the Conde del Guadalhorce reservoir was completed and from that date this path was practically no longer used. Over the years, its condition has deteriorated, but this has not prevented many hikers from venturing along it… When you see the state of the path at that time, it is easy to understand how this path has inherited the nickname of “the most dangerous path in the world“.
Following numerous accidents and deaths, the path was officially closed in 2000. In order to “close” it, parts of the footbridges were deliberately destroyed. At the time, it was probably imagined that this would discourage people. But seeing that adrenaline addicts continued to use it, it was quickly decided that it should be made safer.
A first restoration project was started in 2011, but it has been postponed continuously due to lack of funds. It will not be until 2015 that the new, 100% secure trail has reopened to the public.
At the launch of the path, marketing was quite a bit oriented towards the name of “the most dangerous path in the world“, even if the new version is more of a family outing than a risk-taking one.
Our hike in el Chorro and our experience of the Camino del Rey
Arriving by train at the station of el Chorro we started by taking the small shuttle bus that took us to the official start of the hike, at the place called “el Kiosko”. From this small restaurant (which sells sandwiches to take away, by the way) we started by walking through the forest along one of the arms of the lake.
During this section we were almost the only hikers and we were beginning to think that in the end this Caminito del Rey was not so touristy… Well, we quickly made up our minds when we reached the official entrance! A hundred people were waiting behind a barrier while a guy seemed to determine in a more or less arbitrary way who would be allowed to go first and who would have to wait for the next round. Officially, everyone has a schedule on their ticket and this is more or less respected (except for the groups with guides who seem to pass when they want).
After 40 minutes of waiting behind the small barrier it was finally our turn to receive this charming charlotte and this superb helmet. A pledge of safety, but above all a very fashionable accessory !
We were about 50 people at the 1pm start and after a quick “safety briefing” we were able to leave at our own pace on the footbridges.
Note: Don’t worry about the briefing… if you don’t speak English or Spanish, just nod your head… What’s the message? Keep your helmet on, don’t jump over fences, don’t run and don’t push your mother-in-law over the cliff.
As far as the path itself is concerned I think I won’t give you a summary of our many “Wouahhh” “Magic” Pfiouuuu”. No, instead we’ll just put some pictures so that you can see for yourself that this walk, although very touristic, is really worth it:
To me, the most impressive part was probably the huge wall just before the suspension bridge! You walk on the mountainside and between the colours of the rocks, the different formations and the panorama on the river below, you just don’t know where to look!
Frankly, we were a little worried that this route would be too touristy for our taste… So we’re not going to lie to each other, it’s crowded! But sincerely, we strongly recommend it if you are in Andalusia! In good weather, this walk is a real must!
Caminito del Rey: Map and practical information to know
The Caminito del Rey is a hiking trail equipped with footbridges and there is an entrance fee. The official ticket costs 10€ (but as you will see below, you can easily end up having to pay a bit more…).
The walk can be done only in one direction (from north to south) and in total the walk is 7.7km.
The 7.7km distance is divided into 3 sections:
- 2,7km of access road (road in the forest) (N°1 to N°2 on the map below)
- 3,2 km of footbridges and gorges and paths (N°2 to N°3 on the map below)
- 1,8 km track and path to el Chorro (N°3 to N°4 on the map)
All in all it takes about 2h30-3h to complete the whole route (there are plenty of places very suitable for photo breaks) 😉
The walk starts at the place called “el Kiosko” (No. 1) and ends at the station “el Chorro” (No. 4). A shuttle bus runs between these two points (1,55€) (blue section on the map below).
If you come by train you will first take the shuttle bus and then you will walk back. Count at least 1h15-1h30 between the arrival time of your train and your access time to the trail (on the ticket). You will need this time to wait for the shuttle, make the trip and walk the first 2.7km.
If you come by car you can park either at the beginning of the hike or at el Chorro and take the shuttle bus.
Here is a picture of the map taken on the spot so that you can get a better idea of the route.
The Caminito del Rey from Málaga: ticket options
To visit Caminito del Rey there are a multitude of options (and prices). The choice of the best option will depend on several factors: the time of the year, the time you have available, your desire (or not) to have a guide.
In order to help you decide, we offer you a short overview of the possibilities:
Buy your ticket on the official website
In a perfect world this should be the only option, or at least the easiest option… So for Caminito del Rey it’s not quite right. The official website (here) has a stock of tickets per day and without any doubt it is the cheapest option. The ticket costs 10€ per person.
Note: Don’t rush to book and pay attention to the visiting hours, especially if you plan to come by train… more info below.
But you’ll see, I’m also talking about agencies below… These sell tickets for 20€ (here for example). The difference? it’s a guided tour. Why am I telling you about them? Well, in fact the guides and agencies buy these tickets and block them, so it is frequent that there are no more tickets left on the official website, but on the websites of agencies or with guides there are still spots available. It’s a bit of a rotten system, we’ll give you that, but that’s the way it is. 🙁 In short, if it’s sold out on the official website, there’s often the option to go for the guided version for 20€.
For our part, we had not anticipated our visit and we found ourselves totally lost when we saw the full official website, availabilities on many other websites, and then again tickets available on the official website the night before. We don’t know the details, but our guess is that if the agencies don’t fill up, their tickets are put back on sale on the official website. In short, it’s always worth checking it out several times during the day and at the last minute.
If you only have one day to do the hike and you are limited in time we strongly recommend that you book well in advance!
Getting there by train from Malaga (or Seville)
For transportation, if you want to go there independently, there are roughly 2 options: rent a car (discussed below) or take the train. If you come from Malaga there is basically only one train per day (there are 2 in theory but the second one being at the end of the day it makes no sense to take it to go hiking). Every morning the train MD 13057 leaves Maria Zambrano station in Malaga at 10:06 am and arrives at el Chorro at 10:46 am. When taking this train you have to reserve the 12:30 or 1:00 pm (1:30 pm at the latest) entrance to have time to take the shuttle bus and then walk to the official entrance. The one-way train fare is 6.25€ per person.
Once the visit is over, a train leaves el Chorro at 15:50 (that’s why we recommend that you don’t have an entrance after 13:30, otherwise you won’t have time to catch the return train).
If you come from Seville, the train leaves Sevilla el Justa at 7:40 am and arrives at 10:15 am at el Chorro (20.5€ per person / trip) and there the return train leaves el Chorro at 4:58 pm and arrives in Seville at 7:35 pm.
Note: From Seville, it costs more than 40€ per person… and there is a lot of waiting for the return train. On GetYourGuide the excursion is proposed at 76€, in our opinion it’s a good option. (See this tour on GetyourGuide) or do it in a rented car (See the prices)
Rent a car in Malaga for more flexibility
As you have seen above, there is basically only one train a day to reach the caminito from Malaga (or Seville). This implies that you will be limited in the time slots you can choose for the visit. For more flexibility it is also possible to rent a car in Malaga. We didn’t do this because we managed to get a last-minute all-inclusive ticket (more about this below), but this was clearly our fallback plan. In Malaga you can rent a car from 8€ per day, so if you are 2 or more it will be even cheaper than the train.! See the prices on Rentalcars
The big advantage of the car is that you will also be able to stop on the way in the lake region to enjoy a bit of the scenery. Cars can be rented at Malaga train station or from the airport. We recommend the airport for 3 reasons:
- it’s often cheaper!
- Getting to the airport takes 15 minutes by metro and costs 2,3€.
- This will save you from driving in the city centre, which can be very busy 🙂
From the airport it takes between 1h15 and 1h30 drive to reach the caminito.
To find a cheap car we advise you as usual to go through Rentalcars to compare prices.
Go through an agency for transport and visit
Another alternative, which is certainly a little more expensive but avoids too many questions, is to do it with an agency that combines transport and visit. Usually it’s not too much our cup of tea, but for the moment we find that the price is correct (less than 50€) and it avoids many questions (to be frank we made it a question of principle not to make an organized tour but on this occasion we spent more than 3 hours to make round trips to the station, wait at the ticket office, return to the station the next day at dawn just to get the damn tickets …) 😉
Take advantage of a last-minute offer from the Renfe (official train company)
This is the option we used, but we’ll admit it was a bit a matter of luck. In fact, we had decided to go on a Thursday (because there were still tickets on GetyourGuide but not on the official website) even if we had a preference for Friday because the weather forecast was better. The problem? No more tickets were available for Friday, neither on the official website nor on GetyourGuide.
But before buying our tickets for Thursday we wanted to make sure we could take the train and so we went to the station because it was impossible to find train tickets online for that day. After an hour’s wait at the ticket office it was our turn and the lady told us that there was no online ticket available for Thursday because there was construction work on the track and therefore no train! At the sight of our face she suggested that we rent a car which would have been a good solution.
Just before we leave the box office she say “but why don’t you fo on Friday? you can go with a Renfe ticket”. Then we tell her that Friday is unfortunately sold out and she replies:
No, not with the Renfe tickets! 100 combined tickets are on sale every morning between 6 am and 9.15 am for the day’s train.
It seemed a bit freestyle to us, especially since we hadn’t really seen any online news about it, but we decided to trust her. Anyway, on Friday morning, Benoit went to the station at 7am and he was able to get us 3 tickets for the same day. The Renfe combination tickets cost 23€ and include the train, the shuttle bus and the entrance to the Caminito (option at 31€ with a guide).
These Renfe tickets are on sale from February to the end of December. (they’ve had this promotion for 2 years now, so we hope it will be renewed in 2020… we’ll try to update the article if that’s the case).
Every day 70 tickets at 23€ including the train, the bus and the visit are on sale as well as 30 tickets at 31€ which also include a guide.
Tickets can only be purchased from Renfe automatic ticket machines (purple terminals) between 6am and 9.15am. These terminals are in the Maria Zambrano station in Malaga. Tickets are sold on a first come, first serve basis. So you better make sure to arrive early if you want them!
The tickets sold are always for the same day.
FAQ about Caminito del Rey
Is it possible to do the hike in both directions?
No, the route is necessarily in one direction. You enter from the north and come out in the south (at the El Chorro train station). A shuttle bus runs between El Chorro and the north entrance (price of the shuttle: 1,55€ per person if not included in the ticket).
Are there a lot of people on the trail?
Yes and No… There are a lot of people and that’s why tickets are sold out almost all year round. Afterwards, we have to admit that their system of letting people in only every 30 minutes allows the crowds to spread out. The wait to get in can be a bit long and not especially pleasant but once on the trail the crowd disperses quite quickly and naturally. So, no, you’re clearly never alone on the trail, but it’s clearly not as busy as you might expect. 🙂
Can you do caminito if you’re afraid of heights?
It was my great obsession! I am personally not very comfortable with the void and when I read stuff online and saw that wearing a helmet was mandatory I had a doubt that it would be for me. So, I can reassure you right away, I was ABSOLUTELY not afraid. The path is ultra well redone and secure. There is no time when we are exposed to the void in a violent way and especially it seems totally impossible to me to fall because it is so safe.
Afterwards, it’s still impressive. It’s huge and splendid. It all depends on your vertigo, but let’s just say that if walking on a wide wooden bridge or footbridge with barriers on both sides is not a problem, then Caminito del Rey will not be a problem either.
Is Caminito del Rey a Via Ferrata?
NO, NO and RE-NO! A via ferrata is defined as a path equipped with cables, ladders and requires a belay.
The Caminito del Rey is a hiking trail on a mountainside and not a via ferrata. At the time of the opening of the site in 2015 it seems that many media have used the term Via Ferrata but this is wrong. Was it a marketing strategy or a simple mistake in vocabulary that was then mistakenly used, we don’t know, but what is certain is that it is not a Via Ferrata.
The same goes for the nickname “the most dangerous path in the world”, this appellation is totally outdated.
Why is the helmet mandatory?
That is an excellent question! 🙂 We imagine it’s for the risk of falling rocks… Even if it seemed extremely safe, we think it’s about insurance. The other explanation is that in some places the wall goes a little bit forward on the path and in the absolute (being very distracted) we could bump into it. It almost happened to me because I was walking with my nose up in the air totally under the charm of this huge canyon and I almost hit a wall… but it is not in itself more dangerous than in the street haha
But anyway, the helmet gives a little bit this “dangerous” image but believe us it’s REALLY safe. And as a bonus, you’ll have an ultra glamorous look for the pictures 😉
Can the path be done with a dog?
No, dogs are forbidden (as well as selfie sticks, hiking poles, drones and tripods) 😉
Can we do Caminito del Rey with children?
Yes, as long as the children are older than 8 years old this is possible (below this age it is forbidden). From a walking point of view it’s really not a problem for a child (as long as he can walk 2h30 it’s all right).
What do I need to bring for the hike?
As such, nothing is mandatory… Even if we advise you to have sneakers on your feet (no need to bring big walking shoes either) and to have in your bag a small snack and a bottle of water (you can’t buy anything during the hike). If the weather is nice, it is advisable to have sun cream and a cap.
Where to stay?
There are many hotels and airbnbs available in the area. You can check the map below to find your perfect location. Use the filters and dates to refine your search.
That’s it for today! If you have any other questions don’t hesitate to put them in comments or write us an email, we will add them to the FAQ as we go along.
See you soon!
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