Caminito Del Rey, Andalucía, Southern Spain





This is often described as one of the best walks in Spain, situated about one hour's drive north of Malaga. The walk involves walking through the spectacular gorge- Desfiladero de Los Gaitanes-on walkways attached to rock 100m above the valley.  A head for heights is imperative. It is only accessible with a timed ticket and as it is very popular it requires booking well ahead especially in the busy summer months.  It can be accessed by train from Malaga or by car. The whole area is very beautiful with lakes and pretty scenery.

As it is a linear walk of approx 7.7km, we parked at the northern end, then at the end of the walk caught the official bus back. When we visited on a quiet November day there was no room in the main car park, we carried on driving and parked in a small car park on the other side of the dam. Following the road over the bridge, we looked down over the beautiful turquoise water, containing many large fish. Information boards regarding the area are scattered along the road. The river was damned in order to provide drinking water for the whole of the Malaga area.
To access the gorge turn down the side of Restaurant El Mirador and walk through the carved tunnel, turn right at sign to Caminito 2.7km. The gentle path is obvious through pine trees above a small valley. It is very pretty, with the wind rustling in the trees, and the birds swooping down to the river. After around 30 minutes the barrier to the gorge is reached. We had 20 minutes to wait before our trip, so we ate lunch. Free toilets are found here.  

We showed our tickets, in return receiving a hard hat and safety briefing. We commenced the walk at 1.30pm descending a flight of steps to a signpost, and the first views of the gorge appear. The walk is easy to follow alternating between a boardwalk  with a big safety fence, and rocky path. There are many information boards, with details of the history of the area and flora and fauna. Even though you are on a timed ticket, take your time and look at the views which become more spectacular round every corner. Enjoy the sound of birds, whilst spotting vultures and eagles floating on the thermals overhead.

The original path was built in 1921 to facilitate access to hydro electric works. The path was closed in 2000 as it was unsafe, a new one was built and re-opened in 2015. In parts the old path can be seen underneath. A train line also runs through the gorge which opened in 1865. At one point the path goes through the old waterway channel, parts of which no longer have water in which is fascinating. There was a detour with parts of the new path being closed, we were not sure if this was due to the strong winds, or safety of that part. Some of the path did not look that securely attached to the cliff face!! Instead the path goes through a series of dark tunnels, with small lights in the boardwalk, but a torch would have been handy. We were disappointed that not all of thenew path was open.

We emerged from the tunnel into the daylight with the most stunning views down to the river 100m below. A warning was given by a parties tour guide to hold onto your hat as it was very windy. We reached the bridge over the gorge at 2.50pm, with the strong wind that was blowing making it very frightening. An official was here to ensure that not more that 10 people were on the bridge at any time. I clung onto the side as I crossed being very scared. There is no alternative at this point but to carry on. Just as I thought that the worst was over the path clings onto the wall, with netting over the path in case of potential rock falls, with long drops down to the valley below. Indeed it was very scary, a head for heights is definitely needed.

Eventually the path rejoins land!!, but with signs saying to keep the hard hat on. At 3.30pm we reached the end of the gorge and handed in our hats. Free toilets are in a portacabin. Walking on there is a public bus stop on the left. Not clearly signposted but the bus stop to the car park is further up the road on the right hand side, being found shortly before the train station. The price of the bus can be included with the gorge ticket. We caught the bus back alighting where the walk began, and sat outside the Bar El Mirador with a coffee and craft beer, reflecting on our day. It was lovely with great views over the lake.

It is the second time that we have completed this trip, I would recommend it and it is thoroughly enjoyable at the same time as being slightly scary. We were joined by my sister Sheila and niece Iona, who thoroughly enjoyed it too. Only in China have I experienced a similar walk, (though no hard hat on there) with boardwalks built into the cliff face. It is good value for money, making a lovely day out, situated about one hour's drive north of where we were staying in Malaga.

Distance 5.71 miles (9.2km)
Duration of Walk 3.30 Hours 
Average Pace  Min/Mile 36
Steps  19272
Elevation Gained  1444feet (440m)
Access to the gorge is available only by a timed ticket. If booking in the summer months book well ahead to guarantee a place. We booked online, but tours can be booked with travel agents or hotels in the tourist resorts. When arriving be careful to give yourself plenty of time, in November we found the last parking space. There is a large car park on the outskirts of the area, but this was shut when we went. The walk can also be booked with a tour guide, who gave others descriptions of the walk. Sometimes this is the only way to get the tickets.
The walk is linear with no facilities, taking around 3 to 4 hours to complete. Flat shoes are advised, as well as summer/winter hats, appropriate clothes, a torch for the tunnels, food and water
Being located in southern Spain, I would advise not doing this walk in the summer months as it may be far too hot, and would require carrying too much water.
Be aware vertiginous drops, so only attempt the whole walk if you are not scared of heights, and take care of children. No children under the age of 8 are allowed. Walkers are advised to keep 1.5m apart. Make sure you study the website before booking the walk.
This area of Southern Spain is accessible from England either by driving through France and Spain, or flying to Malaga  then hiring a car or the route that we took driving from our home in Manchester then catching the 24 hour relaxing ferry from Plymouth to Santander, then touring through Spain.
Websites used