Our Senior Guide Paul, has kindly written a great article on the "Caminito Del Rey" which we offer on our guided cycling tour in Andalusia throughout the year. This gives you a great perspective on one of our day trips we provide.
The King’s Road
Looking down it was at least 200 metres to the canyon floor; above a flock of vultures circled on the updraft from the heat of the day. I watched as one bird slowly descended into the narrow valley, eventually hanging 30 meters above the walkway and hugging the cliffside as it flew towards me. It was the closest view I had ever had of a griffon vulture and it was massive, its two and half metre wings stretched out with finger like ends. As it passed slowly overhead its head twisted from side to side in search of food.
The Caminito Del Rey or Kings Road is an 8km long path through a canyon in Andalucia, Spain. For much of its way hikers traverse the cliff side on a walkway fixed to the rock halfway between the valley floor and the top, the walk takes around 2 hours to complete.
Working as a guide for Toro Blanco Active Holidays I was with a group who had joined us for a week’s cycling and walking in this wonderful part of Spain. My job was to make sure the group got the most out of their holiday so as I’m not an expert on the on El Caminito (as the locals call it) we had a specialist guide to give us the history of this incredible place.
Donning hard hats near the entrance Isa joined us “The original path was built in 1901 as an access route for workers at the El Chorro hydroelectric power station here in Andalucia” Isa our guide explained. “It was opened in 1921 when King Alfonso XIII officially opened and walked the trail. That first path was built of concrete and metal poles drilled into the cliff and eventually became a magnet for adventurous hikers. Over the years the concrete began to crumble with big gaps appearing in the walkway, eventually the path turned into more of a climbing route, eventually being closed in 2000” she explained
After a big reconstruction effort, it was re-opened in 2015 and has become a must for the more adventurous travellers in Spain, all the more reason for Toro Blanco to offer this as an option on our cycling holidays.
With a handrail to hold on to and a very secure walkway along the cliff all you need nowadays to see the spectacular views is a head for heights.
Initially the path is along a wide wooded valley although even at this point the river is a long way below. After a few kilometres the canyon walls narrow and the real walk begins and you meet your guide. Gradually the cliffs become closer, and the walkway begins. The whole route is relatively flat with the walkway undulating and becoming steps in places. After a few more kilometres the canyon widens again and you are greeted with a wooded valley and the river running below. A little further and its back to the walkway, at one point the walls of the canyon almost meet. Eventually a bridge takes you across to the opposing wall and yet more boardwalk. At many places the old route and path can be seen just below with its crumbling concrete and very risky bridges.
The views along the whole walk are amazing as you weave along the cliff side, there is even a house that was occupied until a few decades ago in the middle, it must have been a very remote place to live.
When you finish the walk, particularly on a hot day there are plenty of places to get a beer or whatever you favourite Spanish tipple is and of course cafes and bars for food.
A bus is available to for the return trip to the start, with toro blanco of course you will be met by car and taken to your hotel.