I first heard of El Caminito del Rey on a travel website showing insane pictures of precarious rusted walkways that nearly clung to cliff walls with three hundred foot drop-offs. I remember the sense of adrenaline I felt from seeing the pictures and it was something that I wanted to experience first hand.
I added a “want to go” pin to my Google Maps and forgot about it until recently when we were planning our route through southern Spain.
Normally, getting tickets to hike Caminito del Rey can be difficult – especially during the summer months when they sell out weeks in advance. However, 2020 is not a typical year! Tourism in Spain was getting a late start on their summer season due to COVID-19. Lucky for us, we were able to get our tickets the same day. Admission cost was €10 per person.
We got up early and parked our motorcycles in the paid parking area near the north access and hiked the short distance to the main gate.
The hike starts at the north entrance and goes 7.7 km (4.8 miles) towards the south east. A fleet of shuttle busses gets hikers back to their vehicles.
The walkway was originally built from 1901-1905 to provide workers at the hydroelectric plant a means to cross between facilities.
Sporting the official Caminito del Rey issued hard-hat!
In 1921, King Alfonso XIII crosses the walkway during the inauguration of a new dam and the trail has been known as “The King’s Little Path” every since.
There are great views from the narrow walkway that are built 100 metres (330 ft) above the Río Guadalhorce.
A railroad runs along the river. I’m sure the passengers must enjoy seeing the gorgeous canyon and the hikers as they pass by.
This ornate railroad bridge-way connects the railroad tunnels that were cut right through the cliff walls.
The railroad and bridges were built through the canyon from 1860-1865. Quite an impressive engineering feat considering the dangerous heights!
Is the hike dangerous? This walkway was listed as “the world’s most dangerous walkway” following five deaths in 1999 and 2000. The local government then closed both entrances.
Me pointing the old deteriorated walkway. This walkway had large sections of missing concrete and corroded steel beams. No wonder it was deemed the most dangerous walkway.
In 2014 a rehabilitation project was laid by professional alpinists and builders. Since 2015, the new walkways have been open to visitors and are much safer. The walkways are professionally anchored, a meter wide, and well protected. Hikers are even issued a hard-hat in case rocks fall from the cliff side.
In this photo, you can see the new walkways over the top of the original ones.
Also in this photo are Chris and Melissa from New Zealand. Like us, they have been full-time traveling, except they are living large in an RV. We shared stories about the last three months and what COVID-19 quarantine was like. They ended up in Morocco, where it was even more strict than it was in Spain. Despite the problems of traveling in 2020, they were committed to continuing to experience more of Europe and beyond.
Crossing the suspension bridge, For some reason Chantil likes to bounce up and down on these bridges making it more scary for anyone else on the bridge.
Thank to Chris and Melissa for capturing this photo of us.
After we finished the trail, we were talking a bit when we heard the distance sounds of small bells. The bells grew louder and louder and before long our quiet resting place was inundated with the baaing of sheep and goats as hundreds of them walked right past us! It was quite a sight.
Waiting on the bus. Masks are required anytime you are 1 meter (3 feet) from others. The bus ride costed us €3.50 per person.
After returning to the parking lot, we said our goodbyes to our new friends from New Zealand. We really enjoyed talking to Chris and Melissa during the hike and wish them the best as they continue their travels eastward through southern Spain.
The mules were waiting patiently waiting for us, however they would have to wait just a little longer…
…because we decided to relax a bit with a swim in the turquoise-blue water of the Embalse del Conde.
Quite a wonderful morning and afternoon! We were grateful for the opportunity to hike the extremely popular Caminito del Rey without the typical over abundance of tourists during the summer season.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent riding the short 60 km (37 miles) towards Ronda, Spain where we would be spending the next couple days. Stay tuned for more adventure…
Next Blog Post
Discover why the entire village of Júzcar is painted blue – Smurf blue.
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It looks very inviting and fun to do with the kids. No bouncing though!
The kids would love it!
Nowadays it’s probably one of the safest within its type, because having protections on the side and being mandatory the hard-hat. In any case, it’s not recommended to people who are afraid of heights!
So true. I wonder if a relatively safe place like Caminito del Rey would be a good place for people trying to overcome their fear of heights?
That was awesome! the views in the canyon were stunning, what a cool way to experience a beautiful place.
Thanks TJ for the comment. A unique and beautiful place for sure!