The World’s most Dangerous Footpath!
One of The World’s Scariest Hikes!
Not any more!
This Andalusian path was once considered one of the most treacherous in the world. Carefully restored and reopened in 2015, it’s nowadays more scenic stroll than terrifying challenge but still offers a unique experience and is deservedly one of Spain’s main attractions.
What’s it all about?
The Caminito was constructed 1901 – 1905 to transport goods and people between two power stations on either side of El Chorro Gorge. In 1921, King Alfonso XIII walked its length and gave it its name – the King’s Little Walk. Suspended 100m up against the walls of the gorge, the original aerial path was built using sand and cement -supposedly by sailors who were used to climbing ropes and working while dangling above a void (there are also unconfirmed reports of death row prisoners carrying out some of the more dangerous tasks). It was held in place by metal brackets, nothing but a simple railing protecting its users!
The Caminito became part of everyday life, providing easy access between local villages and for children going to school.
It wasn’t regularly maintained alas and gradually fell into disrepair – whole sections of the concrete layer collapsed in places, leaving only the narrow rusty steel beams to keep the path together. This didn’t deter users of course and over the years it began to attract adventure seekers from all over the world. The path was officially closed in 2000 (after several people fell to their deaths). Authorities tried to restrict access by removing 30 metres of the trail and by issuing fines. Of course this only added to the attraction and the adrenaline junkies continued to come. Local mountaineers put wire along the path which hikers could clip into for safety. The serious accidents continued.
There had been talk of restoration for years but finally the local authorities and the city of Malaga shared the renovation cost of the new Caminito as well as additional services in the area – roads, parking and public transport. The project began in 2014 and the new path was inaugurated a year later.
Yes, it’s definitely lost its edge and thrill seekers would no longer be seen dead on it but it’s a wonderful success and makes for a great day out..
What to expect….
The total distance is 7.7kms. The actual stretch of suspended walkway is 2.9 kms with the rest of the trail comprising of mountain paths and forest tracks.
This is a linear path but a shuttle bus runs between the two ends of the trail.
We set off through a short tunnel at the north entrance – this reduces the walk by over a kilometre.
From there, it’s a scenic 1.5km walk to the control cabin.
At the control cabin, tickets are checked and helmets are issued (the shower caps really add to the glamour!) . Everyone is divided into groups – Spanish / English – for the safety brief and then we are on our way…
All set …..
At least we can ditch the masks…
The walk goes through three gorges, opening up into wider valleys in between. There are some information boards and route maps but really, once you leave the control cabin there’s only one way to go! Also, I love maps and knowing where exactly I am but I didn’t feel the need to overburden myself with the names of the gorges and valleys! This is one place to just walk and enjoy the views.
The old Caminito has fortunately been left intact where possible with the new path built just above it – made up of predominantly wooden panels (19,939 of them!) with supports drilled into the rock face.
The path is a metre wide – the whole set up originally allowed for walkers in both directions but now (August, 2021) there was only one option so there’s no problem passing by bunches of people etc. While everyone sets off in clusters after the safety talk, the group quickly disperses as all find their own comfortable pace…
On the other side of the gorge the railway appears and disappears on occasion….Nowadays the new high speed Malaga-Madrid track goes under Huma mountain, about one kilometre further east, but this original line is still well used (and must be a lovely scenic ride).
The gorge narrows to 10metres in places!
There are guided tour options – although most people head off on their own. Staff members are on hand along the way to answer questions for you…..
It’s all stunning……
The landscape has been dug by the Guadalhorce River (that must have taken a while!!)
Glass floor balconies offer even more spectacular views – and remind us of how unnaturally high we are !
YEP! – you’re going to have to cross over!
There are guides at the bridge, controlling access – and happy to take photos! I’ll admit I was out of my comfort zone here and certainly not hanging around to enjoy the view!
I didn’t quite run off the bridge but…..
Once across the bridge, the Caminito takes a dramatic path along the South Wall before finally coming back to solid ground for the final part of the trail.
You can look back at the gorge as you wander towards the bus stop….
Ah! – Lucky us – there’s no queue!
The 15 minute trip back to the car park is spectacular in itself ………
Where EXACTLY is it?
The Caminito is located close to the town of Ardales – roughly 53kms northwest of Malaga.
Is it Manageable?
The trail itself is an easy walk with no steep climbs.
Obviously, anyone who suffers from acrophobia will not enjoy it. I’ve documented many times in my posts that I’ve a poor head for heights but I found the experience comfortable – needless to say I didn’t like the glass balcony or the bridge and for the final section along the sheer cliff wall I was looking ahead towards the end of the path rather than out to my right…
The whole thing will take a few hours minimum and there are no toilet facilities along the route!
Both the town of Ardales and El Chorro station can be reached by car from Málaga in about one hour.
You can park at the northern end of the trail, walk and get the shuttle back.
Alternatively, you can park at El Chorro, get the shuttle to the start of the trail and walk back to your car.
The train from Malaga Maria Zambrano station to El Chorro (Malaga-Seville line) takes about 40 minutes.
Make sure to coincide the train time with your Caminito booking and allow enough time for the shuttle.
Once at El Chorro, you get the shuttle bus to the northern end of the trail and you walk back from there to the train station – easy!
NOTE – The shuttle runs every half hour – if it’s full you must wait for the next one – another 30 minutes!
Tickets are limited – 50 per half hour – and they sell out fast (especially for weekend dates). They are released in batches so it’s necessary to keep an eye on the website and book as soon as your desired date options pop up. Tickets cost €10 p.p.
Guided visits are also available in English and Spanish. Groups are limited in size and headphones / receiver are supplied. The tour includes a guide between the two checkpoints (not transport). Cost €18.
You can book the shuttle – €1.55 – at the same time as your admission ticket.
What to Bring
Comfortable clothing and footwear
Small backpack (large bags are not allowed)
Water and snacks