CAMINITO DEL REY – THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN OF RURAL TOURISM

Our self-catering accommodation at Finca Los Llanos is in the perfect location if you are visiting the Caminito Del Rey. We are 20 minutes by bus or car from El Chorro. There are 5 buses a day linking Los Llanos to El Chorro, and it is a beautiful drive along the Guadalhorce Valley, dominated by plantations of citrus, olive and almond trees.  You need to book tickets for the walk at the same time as your flights and accommodation as numbers are limited for safety reasons,  Since its opening in 2015, the walk has been enjoyed by over 300,000 per annum

The Visitor Centre is located at Puerto de las Atalayas ~(The Atalayas Pass)

Co-ordinates X:36.914411 / Y: -4.806910

There is ample car parking and shuttle buses will take you to the start and return from the finish at El Chorro. This was due to open in April 2018, but has been delayed. It will probably be open by the end of 2018.

The walk is 7.7 km and takes about 3.5 hours. It starts at the northern access by the Embalsa de Gaitanejo.  The shuttle bus stops by the Restaurante El Kiosko and there is a 2.7 km walk from there to the start of the walkway. This is a pleasant walk, mostly downhill.

Booking Tickets

Tickets are now €10 each plus €1.50 if you want a one way bus ticket If you park at El Chorro (where the walk ends) you can get the bus to the start up at the lakes by The Mirador or El Kiosko.  Or if you park at the start – if you have early morning tickets for example – you can get the bus back from the end of the walk to pick up your car. When the Visitor Centre opens there will be a return bus ticket and you can leave your car at the Visitor Centre.  Tickets for the walk  are available from the official web site www.caminitodelrey.info  (use this link to take you to the page in English –   https://reservas.caminitodelrey.info)

Note that children under 8 are not permitted on the walkway. As you would imagine, the walkway isn’t wide, and obstructions need to be avoided.  So no walking sticks – or selfie sticks allowed, no umbrellas or big back packs.

The new visitors’ centre hasn’t opened yet (October 2018) but when it does, there will be parking for the shuttle bus service, customer car park, and tour bus parking.  See below for how to get there.  There will also be detailed information in English as well as other languages, about the flora, fauna, and geology of the area.

The maximum number of walkers allowed is 1,100 per day and tickets are allocated to tour companies as well as to individuals.  So  although they allow about 50 people to start on the half hour and hour, some of these are allocated to tours.  If you can’t buy an individual ticket, you might want to purchase a ‘guided’ ticket.  It will cost a bit more, but you don’t have to stick with the guide if you don’t want to.  There is alot of information available about the bird and plant life, and the geology, in English and Spanish, at various points along the walk.  The web site (www.caminitodelrey.info) also has information in different languages.  So from an information point of view, we are not convinced that the guided tour is necessary. There are lots of videos on U Tube as well – worth searching for ‘Turismo Diputacion de Malaga’ for videos.

It is really worth looking way ahead, as there is enormous demand, and tickets go very fast, all year round.  In the summer it is really worth getting early morning tickets, or starting late in the day – it can get extremely hot.  Do ensure you take drinking water with you.

Summer hours are 9.30 to 5.00 and winter hours are 9.30 till 2 pm

If you have booked tickets, its a good idea to link up with the Caminito del Rey on twitter or Facebook for notifications in the event that the walkway has to be closed for bad weather.  Generally the walkway is closed on Mondays, Christmas Day, New Years day, but open otherwise.  Occasionally in the event of closure – ie for the last Vuelta de Espana on the Sunday, it was opened on the Monday afterwards.

WHEN ITS CLOSED

If weather closes the walkway on the day of your booking, you can notify the company on the booking web site and go the following day instead.  Checking on the official web site is always worth doing, but they sometimes don’t post about a closure in time.  You can call 902 78 73 25 to check. Or you can go to their Facebook page which is

https://www.facebook.com/caminitodelrey/official

You might need to scroll down through the posts as new posts may have been put on after the closure (Cerrado) notice was posted.  This is the link in English for advice on changing tickets for a new date

https://reservas.caminitodelrey.info/canjeo-por-cierre/?lang=en

If you find the walkway is closed on the day of your booking and you are already in the area, or even up at the start, there are walks you can take to make the most of your visit, and you can re-book your walk on the caminito for the day its next open.

How to get there

If you are driving from Málaga or the coast,  the fastet access is from the A357  (Málaga to Campillos) taking the exit to The Embalses at Ardales.  This will bring you to the new Visitors’ Centre at the junction with the road to El Chorro and Álora. Until the visitor centre opens you can follow the road beyond the visitors’ centre to the El Kiosko restaurant and park near there.  If you are coming from Álora, or from Finca Los Llanos on the Carretera El Chorro you can drive or get a bus – there are five daily.

Now its also possible to get a combined ticket for the C2 Cercana train from Málaga.  Currently there is one train from Málaga Maria Zambrano station leaving at 10.05 am arriving El Chorro 10.47  – returning in the afternoon from El Chorro at 18.02, arriving Málaga at 18.50.

If you come from Sevilla the train leaves at  07.40  arriving El Chorro at 09.32 then leaving El Chorro at  17.30 arriving back in  Seville at 19.30

There are two ways to get to the actual start once you reach El Kiosko. There is a tunnel just up from El Kiosko – its low and not everyone enjoys it – this brings you out on the path leading to the start.  Or you can walk up the track to The Mirador restaurant, walking past it (on your left) to where there is a vehicle barrier at a track on your right.  Walk around/under the barrier, and follow the track (keeping to your left) and you come to the start point.  Here you will find some toilets, and a ticket inspection office, where they hand out hairnet and hard hat.

The walk from the Mirador Restaurant takes about 20 minutes and is pretty much downhill all the way. Its a nice easy walk.

What to expect

The walk is fine for anyone who can walk for about 3 hours.  We have walked with people in their 80’s.  As long as you have comfortable walking shoes or trainers you will be fine.  As you start the walk you see the gorge and the river below – its truly a fantastic sight.  You will be walking on the walkway for about 1.5 km . It is solid and safe, although not very wide – in most stretches its just about wide enough for two people. Then you will be walking through the natural park where you will find spots to sit a while if you want to.  There is an old ruin of a house in the valley, and a film was made which included interviews with members of the family who used to live there as children.  Its hard to imagine but they used to cycle along the old walkway in order to get to school in El Chorro.

The last section of the walk is on walkway again, culminating in a spectacular section where you can see the old railway arches – how did they manage to build those! and phenomenal geology with massive stretches of rockface that had once been part of the earth’s crust.  I am no geologist but will be finding more detail on this for those who are interested.

At the end of the walk there is a suspension bridge – and then you have a short stretch on the other side of the gorge, with steps up to the level of the railway bridge, then walking down to the end of the walk in El Chorro, where you hand in your hats .  There are some WCs here too, as well as a choice of places to get a drink or something to eat.

History

The original pathway was built as part of the hydro-electric project between 1901 and 1921, to enable workers to access the gorge for construction and maintenance.  King Alfonso XIII of Spain was present at the official opening on the 21st May 1921 and you can see an inscribed stone ‘Sillon’ (huge seat) close to El Kiosko restaurant.  The King sat here to sign the registration document to confirm the works were complete.  The pathway subsequently became known as the ‘Caminito del Rey’ – or ‘the kings walkway’.

The path, which is suspended 100 meters above the river Guadalhorce, gradually fell into disrepair, as it was no longer used as part of the hydro-electric scheme.  Following a number of fatalities, it was officially closed in the 1980’s.  However, rock climbers continued to use the remaining sections of the walkway for sport climbing within the gorge.

After many unfulfilled promises to rebuild the pathway as a tourist attraction, a project was finally announced in 2011. A contractor was appointed in 2013 and the works were completed in 2014. The pathway was opened to the public on the 28th March 2015.  For the first year it was managed by the Diputacion de Malaga, and entry was free.  During this year the infrastructure works were completed, including road widening, establishing a shuttle bus service, parking etc.  In January 2016 companies bid for the contract to manage the walkway, and Hermanos Compano were awarded the contract on 30th March 2016

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