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  • Writer's pictureTania Andreea

The most spectacular hike in Spain - El Caminito del Rey

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

SPECTACULAR HIKE IN ANDALUSIA, SPAIN


El Caminito del Rey is one of the places I wanted to visit for a very long time. I had tried several times to plan a short vacation in Andalusia, but somehow, the planets did not align in the favor of my visit there, until September 2022, when, in the end, I managed to complete the route.


Although in many places online, this place is described as a dangerous route, I tend to mention that at the moment it is not. Fatal accidents happened before this route was completely rebuilt. The passage of the areas considered more dangerous is monitored, both by surveillance cameras and by park employees who are present along the entire distance of the route. Also, protective helmets are offered, and at the end of the route there is an ambulance present to assist in case of emergency.


However, although it is an absolutely gorgeous hike, which is open all year round, I recommend not doing it in the summer. If, however, you have no way to get there at another time of the year, it is good to know that there are no sources of drinking water during the route, so take enough drinking water. For us, two people, to take only 2 L of water, it was not enough. You can also take sandwiches, sweets or other food and have a small picnic in the wooded area.


HOW TO GET TO EL CAMINITO DEL REY


El Caminito del Rey is located in the southern part of Spain, in Andalusia region. The nearest airport is Malaga airport.


From Malaga, the city with the most connections to the rest of Andalusia, you have the following options to reach El Caminito del Rey:


- a rented car; I have written a separate guide with all the necessary information for renting a car; - public transport, which I do not recommend because you have to walk a lot. If you still want to use this option, I recommend staying one night in the area, it will be more comfortable. From Malaga you have a train to El Chorro, then a bus to Camping Ardales, from where you have about 40 minutes to walk to the entrance to the route. - the third option is with an organized excursion, departing from Malaga or Seville. Details and reservations here.


ABOUT THE HIKE ON EL CAMINITO DEL REY


The first step towards walking the El Caminito route is booking the visit. I recommend buying tickets a few weeks before, even months before, if you know that you definitely want to find a place on the desired day and at the desired time. We had some trouble with the reservation, because we couldn't find any places available when we wanted, so we had to rethink the whole trip in Andalusia (where we spent 8 days and for which I wrote a separate article about how we planned the itinerary). Tickets can be booked on the official website, and if you no longer find available tickets on Get Your Guide.


If you thought about it the last minute and did not have enough time in advance to reserve the tickets, it is worth making a try at the counter, where a limited number of tickets can be sold, depending on the flow of tourists from the respective time. Obviously, this option is risky because it is possible to go there for nothing.


When you book the entrance ticket, you have the option to buy both parking and bus tickets. There are two official parkings, one near the entrance to the route, and one a bit further, next to a roundabout. From the second one, you are taken by bus for which you either reserve a seat online or pay at the driver's desk. It is necessary to specially buy a return ticket, because the route is not a circuit type and is also one-way, that is, you can no longer return on the same route, so either you reserve the parking lot from them, or you park on the side of the road (there were enough places to leave your car for free), however you choose, you have to walk back a distance of about 4-5 km, if you don't use the bus that makes special trips to El Caminito del Rey.


Now that we have worked out the organizational details, let's move on to what's the most important: the route. As a landmark to find the entrance to the route, you must consider a tunnel dug in the mountain, which is the beginning of the hike. To the ticket control point and the training place (the safety rules and what is and what is not allowed on the route are presented), you have to walk a path of about 700 meters through the forest. Once you find the tunnel, you can't miss it, it's a straight path, easy to walk.


the hiking path that leads to El Caminito del Rey

After passing the ticket control point, the hike begins and a few meters ahead, the first spectacular part of the route follows, where you walk on the wooden path suspended on the edge of the high rocks. I think "spectacular" is a very small word to describe the beauty of the canyon created by the small river. This part of the route is called the Guitanes Gorge. In this area we were lucky enough to spot white-beaked eagles, a species of birds specific to the area. I am convinced that if you look up at the mountain tops, you will notice them, there were lots of them. Many species of birds and wild animals live in the area, so keep your eyes wide open, you might be lucky enough to see them in their natural habitat.


the canyon on the most spectacular hike in spain

If you are afraid of heights, as I am, don't worry, on this route that fear will not manifest itself because you will feel safe due to the way the path is built. At least I wasn't afraid at all, although I thought I would have some difficulties doing the hole hike.


The next part of the route, and the longest, is through the pine forest. It is an easy trail, without differences in level. At one point, on the left side there are areas with huge stones where you can sit down and eat the lunch you brought with you. Before the start of the next canyon, on the right side is a cave that shelters a protected species of bats. Unfortunately (for us, fortunately for them) it cannot be visited.


the second part of the hike on el caminito del rey

The most spectacular area of ​​the route is the second canyon, somewhat longer and deeper than the first, so the path is positioned on the rock at a much greater distance from the ground, compared to the first canyon.

canyin on the hike on el caminito del rey in andalusia spain

The last spectacular part is the suspension bridge that connects the slopes and that represents the complete exit from the canyon and the beginning of the last part of the route, which I did not like at all. In the last part of the hike, the last kilometer to be exact, you will have to walk only in the sun. It is a less spectacular area, which captures less attention. Although it is not very difficult to walk, it can be exhausting in a heat of over 30 degrees. If we also take into account the accumulated fatigue from doing the hike, which is 5 km in total, it might be a bit too much. We were there in September and it was 37 degrees on that day, and going through that area was not pleasant at all. You will know that you still have a few steps to go to the bus when you reach the areas where soft drinks and ice cream are sold.


suspended bridge on the walking path on el caminito del rey

Other useful information about the El Caminito del Rey hike:


- the route can be closed if there is strong wind. It is good to check the updated information on the official website, so it is possible to close it even if you have reserved tickets; - it is a very popular hike, so expect crowds; - there is the option of buying a guided tour, where you can find out additional information; - access to children under 8 is prohibited; - wearing slippers is prohibited; - the return bus is not waiting at the station near the exit from the route, you have to keep going up the hill and you will see the bus waiting for tourists at the station, on the left side of the road. - on Mondays, the route is closed;



CONCLUSION:


El Caminito is one of the most spectacular routes that I've done and I'm glad I had the opportunity to walk it and be able to recommend it further. The route was exactly as I expected it to be, it did not disappoint me and I was very happy that I did not feel the fear of heights and I was able to walk it without having moments of panic. Although I have noticed that online, especially on YouTube, but also on travel blogs, this route is described as the most dangerous route, probably in the rush for the sensational, I want to emphasize the fact that it is not like that at all, on the contrary, it felt very safe to walk. So, if you follow the rules and regulations presented at the beginning of the route, I am convinced that there will be no unpleasant incidents.


Because this article might bring some nature and wildlife lovers here, I want to recommend you to read about one of the wildest islands in Europe, which not many people have heard of and which you should not miss if you want to observe rare birds in their natural habitat. It is about Farne Island, in the north of England.



I'm curious if you've done this route, and if so, how did you like it? Leave the answer in the comments.


I also filmed a vlog with this route, give a thumbs up to the video if you liked it and subscribe to my channel.



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