Caminito Del Rey: Hiking through your fears!
Hiking the Caminito Del Rey (hereinafter referred to as Caminito) was one of the things which was a part of my bucket-list since a very long time. Ever since I had heard of it, I could only imagine actually going there & doing this hike by myself. And this time when I went to Spain, I was excited yet nervous to finally start ticking one more thing off my bucket-list. Yes I realize that I am already babbling without even telling you what place I am talking about! Have you ever heard of Caminito Del Rey? If yes then here’s a ‘Hi5’ & if no then here we go.
BRIEF INTRODUCTION & HISTORY TO CAMINITO DEL REY:
So let me start by telling you the translation of the sentence: Caminito Del Rey. Well, it is a Spanish sentence which if literally translated would mean ‘The King’s Route’. It is located in El Chorro near Ardales in the province of Malaga, Southern Spain. The Caminito was constructed in the year 1901 – 1905 as a means to provide workers with a route to carry all their materials to El Chorro Falls & Gaitanejo Falls for construction of Hydro-electric Power Plants. Caminito Del Rey was named after King Alfonso XIII, who inaugurated the pathway in 1921. It is a century old hike, along a narrow pathway, pinned to the steep mountainous walls which is approx 350 ft above the river. So there is always the danger of either you falling in the river or rocks falling on your head.
After, the hydro-electric power plants were completed, the route that was built was not maintained. Over the years, parts of the route started falling off at different places making it impossible for people to walk over that route. Until two decades ago, Caminito was bestowed with the title of being one of the most dangerous hikes in the world. Every 8 out of 10 hikers who had attempted this hike usually ended up losing their lives, usually due to lack of safety measures. Yes, it did add to the thrill which is why plenty of people wanted to attempt it at the cost of their lives. After, so many lives were lost, the Spanish Government, decided to close down the route & rebuild it once again, thus making it a whole lot safer for the oncoming adventurous junkies.
It is quite ironic that Malaga, a province known for its beaches, also houses one of the most dangerous hikes in the world. This part of Malaga looks totally rugged which is in stark contrast to its touristy side. Mountaineers & adventure lovers are drawn towards this side of Malaga.
MY EXPERIENCE HIKING THE CAMINITO:
The entrance to the ticket counter is from a small cave on a hill, followed by a 10 minutes walk. At the entrance, you will be issued with tickets and provided with helmets to protect your head in case there are falling rocks. I bought the tickets online and I immediately went inside without wasting any further time. The security waiting outside strictly warned everyone to refrain from using umbrellas & selfie sticks & asked everyone to walk on the other side of the railing as much as possible.
Once the hike started, I was greeted with tall rugged mountains on both the sides. After a few more steps I was greeted by the river which was gushing right underneath my feet. The water was green and looked refreshing, making me feel like jumping into it to escape the heat. Yes, I went for this hike during the hot summer of Andalusia. Throughout the trek, at several places I saw the remains of the old routes, completely worn out & broken. Other things that I saw were hydro-electric power plants that was made during the King Alfonso XIII’s throne. The hike was completely filled with beautiful landscapes at every step. The entire walk didn’t feel like dangerous to me at all. In fact, I have never been on a hike more safer than this before.
On the hike, I met this girl from Germany who was following me for 5-10 minutes before she came up to me to talk. After a quick introductory chat with her, she told me that she liked my t-shirt so much that she wanted to tell me about it. Apparently, she loved collecting badges & she had a badge with the exact same message that was written on my t-shirt. The message was “I OWN TOO MUCH BLACK”. She told me how she was against the discrimination based on skin colour that is happening all around the world today. Not just that, she even invited me to her house in Germany to stay with her if I happen to be around. This is a message for you: “Hey I forgot your name, but if you happen to come across this post, here’s a big shout out to you! You are doing a great job! Keep up the good work!”
At the end, which is the most thrilling part of the hike, I had to cross two huge mountains with the help of a narrow, shaky bridge. Let’s just say Thank God I crossed that bridge successfully! Phew!
MORE ABOUT THE TICKETS:
If you go directly to buy the tickets from the ticket counter, you will end up waiting in queues & waiting longer than usual and so the best way to go about it is to buy the tickets on the official website of the Caminito
In this way, you can choose your own timings & day based on the availability. Only 1,100 persons per day can do this hike which is why it is advisable to book your tickets online at least a month in advance. Here’s cost of the tickets as of now:
- General Ticket – 10 Euros
- General Ticket + Bus service back to the start of the trail – 12 Euros
- General ticket + Guide for a group of 25 people – 18 Euros
- Guided tours from Malaga & back – 50 Euros
Anyone can do the hike as long as they can walk, however children below 8 years of age are not allowed. Once you book the tickets online, either take a print or download it on your phone to show it at the entrance.
HOW TO REACH THE CAMINITO:
BY AIR & ROAD: Malaga airport is the nearest airport which is 60 kms away from the Caminito. It would take an hour to reach here by a car. The location can be found on Google Maps.
There are currently only two trains that leave daily from Malaga’s Maria Zambrano station to El Chorro. The first leaves at 10.05 (destination Ronda) and the second at 16.48 (destination Sevilla Santa Justa). Journey time is 40 minutes and a ticket costs 6€.
There are three trains that return from El Chorro back to Málaga. Leaving at 9.33, 15.03 and 18.03 from El Chorro.
Additional train services have been planned for the future. For more information, see the Renfe website.
- The Caminito should not be attempted if you are afraid of heights or suffer from vertigo.
- You will be provided with a helmet upon entry. It must be kept on at all times.
- There are no bathrooms or other facilities throughout the entire route.
- Bring water and food with you as there are no shops on the entire route.
- The walk is linear. You start in the north and end in the south.
- There’s a bus service that connects the two sides. Buses leave every half an hour, with a single ticket costing €1,55. You can buy the bus tickets together with the tickets for the Caminito.
Caminito Del Rey definitely provides beautiful vistas of the interiors of Spain. Away from the touristy side, this hike is definitely one of the spectacular hikes in the country. If you are near to Malaga and wish to go offbeat, then definitely head to this beautiful countryside and experience the nature outside the touristy spots.
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