Are you an adventurer who likes to push their own limits to the extreme? If so, have I got something for you? What would you say to walking the walkway that’s only 1 meter (3 feet) wide, has no railings and is pinned on the mountain wall that’s 700 meters (2300 feet) above the river deep within the treacherous Gaitanes Gorge of El Chorro, Spain? Not crazy enough, then imagine that the pathway was built in 1905 and by now it’s fallen apart to a point that there’s often nothing but metal bearing rods left. This deadly trail is known as the most dangerous walkway in the world. This is El Caminito del Rey or The King’s Little Pathway.
El Caminito del Rey Location
El Caminito del Rey (sometimes referred to as Camino del Rey which removes diminutive from it) is located within the Gorge of Gaitanes in Andalucia – the southernmost province of Spain. Being the part of the Subbetica moutain range, the Gorge of Gaitanes (Desfiladero de los Gaitanes in native Spanish) is a beauty spot by itself. The River Guadalhorce carved its way through enormous mass of limestone leaving vertical stone walls reaching as high as 700 meters.
Malaga is the closest city to El Caminito del Rey, with Alora being the closest medium size town. The closest settlement would be the village of Bermejo which is located only about 2.5 kilometers from El Chorro.
You can get to El Caminito del Rey via Guadalhorce reservois which are located to the north of Gaitanes Gorge, or via El Chorro, which is at the dam to the south of Gaitanes Gorge. El Chorro is known as the best rock-climbing area in Europe, however the majestic beauty of the location and extreme adrenaline rush offered by El Caminito del Rey are what attracts most tourists to the area.
Check out the location of El Caminito del Rey on the interactive map below (provided by Google Maps):
History of El Caminito del Rey
The works on what was soon to become the most dangerous walkway in the world started in 1901 when the Gaitanejo Falls and Chorro Falls hydroelectric power plants got to a need of a walkway that would bridge both plants and would allow for transportation of material. It took four years (1905) for the construction workers, who are believed to have been of Asian descent, rather than Spanish, to finalize the walkway.
The inauguration of the walkway did not take place until 1921 when Spanish King Alfonso XIII crossed it and the walkway’s been called The King’s Pathway (or El Caminito del Rey in Spanish) since.
By the beginning of 21st century, El Caminito del Rey has deteriorated to a point that it was highly dangerous to walk on it. Many parts of the walkway had collapsed leaving open holes on an already narrow passage without railings. This has however turned El Caminito del Rey into an extreme vacations attraction and crossing the whole of it was like an adrenaline sport for tourists looking to face danger.
El Caminito del Rey Death Toll
There is a wire pinned into the wall that follows most of the walkway and can be used by people to latch onto as safety precaution, but it was not designated to carry much weight. The walkway was closed off in 2000 after 4 people died on it within a span of two years. Many travellers however find the way to get on El Caminito del Rey and get themselves the rush of walking on the most dangerous pathway in the world.
Check out the video below to see how some adventurers have nerves of steel and walk up and down El Caminito del Rey like there is no abyss below them at all. The person who filmed this video also had one of his hands bound as it was holding the camera, so he only had one hand to use to balance himself off. He also didn’t stop at collapsed areas and just walked across the metal beams like it was a sidewalk on the street. True nerves of steel and an amazing sense of balance. The video gives great perception of how insanely dangerous El Caminito del Rey is:
The total length of El Caminito del Rey is 3 kilometers. He wouldn’t be able to pass the whole 3 kilometers of really damaged pathway in just over 6 minutes, but he definitely did the craziest part of it.
When El Caminito del Rey was built, several additional bridges were built and tunnels carved into the stone of Desfiladero de los Gaitanes which were used to build the railway that connected Malaga and Sevilla/Cordoba. The railway tunnels are off limits to visitors, but it is still possible to get there.
The Future of El Caminito del Rey
Even though access to the most dangerous walkway in the world has been officially removed in 2000, plans are to restore El Caminito del Rey, make it safe so as to avoid fatalities and make it once again available to tourists as one of the main attraction in the area. It is possible that the walkway will be privatized in order to speed up the repair works, however that would result in the attraction being paid for in order to access. We’ll see what future holds for El Caminito del Rey. At present time there are signs warning and deterring from access, but it is still possible to get on it and walk it. You are doing it at your own risk and with full knowledge that you’re breaking the bylaw. However it is unlikely we will see the most dangerous walkway in the world officially reopened to public any sooner than perhaps in 2012.
45 thoughts on “El Caminito del Rey – The Most Dangerous Walkway in the World”
The video is definitely an amazing achievement in bravery!
Great information! Hopefully they can fix this up and make it safe so we can all check it out some day! I’d really love to go (once it is fixed up of course!)
Hi there, the walkway is actually 300m not 3 kilometers. I’ve just been on it! It’s was fantastic!!!
Just watching the video made my hands sweat! They are still sweating! But I love it and would do it though not with the panache of the filmer! Kudos to that person! Or, are we nuts?!
I can’t stop watching this and reading about it some of these people are on flickr
You`ve just been on it?!
I really want to go, can you help me with some tips on how to get there and what to do if it`s closed?
El Chorro is famous for climbing, to get there, fly to Malaga and drive the 40mins-1hr to El Chorro village, you can’t miss the gorge. Stay on that side of the water, drive to the end of the road, which is collapsing into the water.. there’s a car park at the end climbers use. The walkway is closed, the original start has been removed. People have made it accessible further down, via metal poles and an old rope, then you can scramble up the side to access the walkway. Harness and slings or via ferrata kit recommended. Be aware guards patrol the train tunnels as it’s illegal to pass so may be best to return via walkway, views are worth it. The walkway itself is an incredible feat of engineering.
lol, did that person trip over the rock walking up to the path?
No apparently they got onto an old wire that was already there and tried to zip to the other side. Problem was they all got on at the same time. This story might have been twisted over time but that is what i heard
I’m off to El Chorro next week, can’t wait to do the Kings Walk and climb some of the great crags. I know it’s totally the wrong season but it looks an awesome (the definition of that word truely sums up El Chorro) place to chill out a do 2 or 3 afternoon climbs.
If all goes well I’ll tell you about it in two weeks.
Wow Chris, that sounds totally kickass. Looking forward to hearing about your adventures. Nothing compares to the real account after experiencing the real thing.
Am getting on a flight to Malaga tomorrow morning for the sole purpose of doing the Camino, and maybe a few other climbs :)Had it booked for ages and can’t believe it is finally happeneing!
The good news is I survied, the better news is it is amazing. Me and my mate done 4 days climbing in El Chorro and ofcourse completed the kings walkway.
The real fear is at the begging, with 30m high traverse into the unknown. After an hour on the walk you get used to it and the same traverse off feels easy but the initial buzz and walking across small rods is amense. I would well recommend El Chorro and the kings walk (if you know what you are doing).
We are real amatures but heres our video if you are interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsVn6uVnemA
go there people, you’ll love it.
That looks sick, Chris. Must have been an intense adventure. I’m jealous.
So how is it with permits? Did you have to obtain one or did you go on your own? Was security gear provided or did you bring your own? Did you get a guide?
Sorry about so many questions 😉
Angie. It was intense, I want to go back. You can get a guide who will provide all the gear but we did it ourselves. We used 2 slings and screwgate carabiners attached to our harness.
The spainish climbers have put a via ferreta around most of the walk which is a steel wire attached to the rock. You can see me clipping into this during the video. Never sure how secure it is and if you fel you would drop 2-3 meters probably, so don’t fall.
It was definitely one of the best adventures I’ve had, amazing! Where you from, do you climb in the UK?
We walked the Camino this summer! Totaly amazing! I`m going back someday!
It’s taken me sometime to do, but the pictures from my trip are now online at caminodelrey.info
To Mark and to Chriss Holland.
1) Great to read that you guys are back and are safe. And 2) I’M NEXT.
Ever since I saw the YouTube video of El Camino, I’ve been thinking and tinking about it non-stop. Im soo a thrill junkie. As of yesterday (10/17/10)I began my plans to go there.
I’m looking to go there in he end on June of 2011, and then drive or train ride to Pamplona for the Running Of The Bulls fiestas. That’s on my bucket list, although I am 32, better doit now, before I need a walker.
So here’s my request. Is there a way we can chat over emails? I have some questions. A few are, how was the weather. What airport did you arive. Did you rent a car if so, did you have GPS; or is there a bus/train/local taxi that can take you there. What hotel did you guys stayed. Plus a few more.
I live in Nj. So far it’s just me on this ride, but I told my Lieutenat (im an officer) and he’s a thrill junkie him self. So I might have one more. I am open to travel partners.
Well guys, your help would be appreciated. Here’s my email address [email protected]
Keep the soul young, and I look forward to read from you.
Thank you a mill…
My brother sent me the YouTube link and I’m addicted. I soooooooo want to do this it looks amazing. I’m hoping to go down for the weekend in the summer and have a play :o)
I’ve read you can hire a guide so I may do it this way
Did this yesterday. About to do it again. You don’t need a permit or anything – just stay off the railway line. The RockFax guide to El Chorro has approach instructions. Beware – the approach scramble is *extremely* exposed and not always easy to protect with a via ferrata kit. If you are an outdoor climber of even moderate ability this will present no problems for you, but if you have no experience with climbing gear, it’s probably best to hire a guide.
Oh, and the easiest way to get off at the end is to walk right back past the start and abseil to the ground. You’ll need a 60 metre rope for this. There is an abseil anchor at the point where the walkway stops. Knowing how to abseil is a plus!
My brother Bryan and I did it on November 6 this year – a day I will never forget. Wonderful, exhilarating and very frightening.
We are both in our early 50s, pretty fit but next to no climbing experience.
Our guide Silvia, a pro climber, was superb and supplied us with all the equipment as well as advice and encouragement. You can contact her through http://www.rockclimbingcompany.co.uk
For me the fulfilment of an ambition of 5 years standing!
September 21st, 2009 at 6:03 pm
Hi there, the walkway is actually 300m not 3 kilometers. I’ve just been on it! It’s was fantastic!!!
The President of Malaga Provincial Government, Salvador Pendon, announced that the budget to restore the three-kilometre walkway is €8.3m, financed by the provincial government.
david must have taken a short-cut 🙂
Fantastic! Does anyone know how it was built (engineering techniques, etc.)? There must be quite a story to it.
I believe it was made by Moroccan’s, cheap labours in those days. It was one of things I was thinking of whilst walking around, who made this with no ropes!
I read elsewhere that it might have been Asians who built it. Whoever did, how did they do it? There must have been contemporary news reports, at least in the Spanish press. Anyone?
Just read that the trail is going to be restored, bummer!
Well that sucks!
It makes me even happier that I actually around to going there last year!!
Can anyone tell me whether it’s still possible to do this route or of another similer route that can be done?
Ian, although illegal, it is possible to get onto it. If they’re starting restoration work I imagine they will be increasing security & making access more difficult. If you wanna do it, you’ll have to go quickly!!
To get onto it, you need to be comfortable scrambline up the cliff face. If you use a via ferrata kit there is some protection, but it’s very exposed. Getting off involves rappelling 28 metres from the end of the walkway to the ground. There is another way on and off, but that involves tresspassing in railway tunnels and is not recommended!
Ian – There is nothing similar!!!
I doubt it has changed much from last year. We scrambled onto it, you need at least two slings, harness and carabiners. You can get back off that way if you don’t fancy abseiling, note getting on was pretty scary, by the time you’ve done the walk getting off is a cinch. Alternatively you can always access from the other side i.e. the north side of the google map above, this is just a walk in with virtually no climbing, no-where near as much fun.
I’d guess you have only got a few months left before they start increasing security though i.e. break the scrambling route.
Such a shame it is realistically closing, the exclusivity of the walkway was its best attraction. GET THERE WHILE YOU CAN!!!
Video: 40-50’s shows the scrambling:
Can anyone confirm if construction has started? I emailed the guide as mentioned above to see… If so I plan to go ASAP before it can no longer be done. If anyone else is interested fire me an email at (i have a slow computer at gmail)… no spaces. Cheers
September 19th: No construction started, hike was exactly as shown in all videos, nerve wracking, but not impossible.
Note: it is not illegal to hike the pathway, but to take the railroad to hike back, is.
Make sure you bring: two two.5 meter tube webbings, 3 carabiners, sturdy hiking boots, climbing shoes (optional, but I would for the first part), and an ATC for each person. Also, 70 meters of static line for rappeling off the end (on return trip).
I wouldn’t take the train tunnel
The abseil/rappel off the end can be done with a 60 metre rope with spare left over – 70’s not necessary, and indeed, 60 tends to be a more standard length (and lighter!)
Re climbing shoes for the approach, I’d say they were overkill. It’s a simple scramble and were it not for the exposure, which is considerable, I would think many would be perfectly happy to do it unprotected.
haha, that if is a pretty big IF sarah. We didn’t take a rope so got off the same way as we got on, the scrumble. Getting on was the scarest thing I have ever done but getting off after the actual walk felt simple and was completed with no fear.
The walkway was an amazing experience. The climbing in El Chorro is also excellent so it makes for a perfect climbing break.
Get on there before they destroy it.
Sarah! You did it!
Like I told you (over email) I was in Costa Rica the week you was going to El Camino. Did any of the info I related to you helped? Now it’s going to be me asking you for assistance on how to do it, where to stay, did you take yur own equipment or rented some there and finally, did you use a guide?
I’ve already booked my flight to Malaga for next year for the first week of July, I’m doing El Camino first, then traveling north to Pamplona to run the bulls on the 6.
Let me know of anyinformation I should be aware of, as I am traveling and doing this alone.
Victor – you may be confusing me with a different Sarah. I did El Camino Del Rey last November. I’m a rock climber and recently spent some time in Italy doing via ferratas, which tend to make El Camino look somewhat tame!
I have my own equipment.
I did this a few years ago with some mates, fantastic place out of this world. The first via ferrata section is the tricky bit but after that it is just a walk but feels strange when it is just a walk but there is 350ft of rock going up and 350ft of gorge going down. You just need standard via ferrata kit and can make do without a rope.
Hello, I have just recently discovered this amazing opportunity and willing to go to Caminito del Rey before Christmas or at least before New Year 2012. Can you please suggest me in short, is it ok to go there this season? I never climbed, but have experience in trekking and ready to face fear 🙂 I live in Europe, so not a huge problem to travel there.
I did it with my brother exactly a year ago, on November 6 2010, and wrote about it for my local newspaper in the Channel Islands. It seems like yesterday and I haven’t had a day like it since. Just go for it Vadim and check out our story by going to the link below. Sylvie at the Rock Climbing Company will put you on the right track!!
Thank you Martyn. I am ready to book tickets from 29.11 to 3.12, going there with my friend. Hope there will be no rain. Do you think we need to take vests with us, because cheaper it will be to rent them there. But i do not know exactly where ? Who are Sylvie at the Rock Climbing Company ? Cheers!