El Caminito del Rey Path is placed in the middle of multi-layered natural surroundings that consist of reservoirs, mountains, gorges and valleys, which are difficult to approach. This is why, it is impossible to reach the beginning of the path by vehicle but you need to walk for quite a while.
It is necessary to plan how long you would take to get, not only to this area, but to the control cabin, go along the route and come back to the spot where you parked your car at El Chorro - El Caminito de Rey Train Station in Álora. El Caminito del Rey route is linear, not circular. It stretches in one direction, from north to south, so visitors need to organize the way back to the starting point. They can choose one of the following options: walk back, or take a shuttle bus (provided by a company which is not managed by the pubic body or the administration company behind El Caminito) that goes from the northern access point in Ardales to the southern one at El Chorro in Álora, or the opposite. The price of the ticket is € 0.94 or € 1.55, depending on whether you are in possession of the Málaga City Transport Company multi-journey bus pass. Therefore, if you come by car, we suggest leaving it in any of the car parks provided for our visitors as you will have to come back to it by one of the above buses or on foot. If you decide to walk mind the long way, narrow local roads, varied weather conditions, the fact that it gets dark at different time depending on the season, etc.
The above photo taken from the air shows us how diverse is the landscape, and which are the landmarks that can be important for the visitors, such as car parks (one of them which is being built beside the Reception Centre can be seen), the northern entrance in Ardales, the southern exit in Álora, the part of the route which consists of the path and the boardwalks, as well as the way along which you can go by buses, and the access roads that stretch from Álora or Ardales.
1) THE ACCESS TO THE PATH BY ROAD OR RAILWAY
If you travel by road from Málaga through Ardales or Álora
If you start your trip in Málaga City, take the A–357 motorway and go towards the MA-5403, through the Towns of Cártama, Pizarra, Carratraca, and Ardales. This route is 59.1 km long, and it takes a bit more than 50 minutes by car. In Pizarra, you can also go to Álora by road, and then along the A-343 to El Chorro Train Station. This route is a little bit longer – 60 km, and you will take a little more than one hour to get to your destination. The road is narrower and curvier than the previous one.
Coming from Antequera
From most points of Andalusia, placed to the north of the El Caminito del Rey, the best way to the trail is coming from Antequera (which is usually accessed by the A-92 motorway). At Antequera, you can choose one of the following two ways:
a) The first one is towards Camplillos (the A-384 motorway), which leads to the reservoirs of El Chorro (A-357 and MA-451) in Ardales. This route is 55 km long and takes about 54 minutes.
b) The other one is from Antequera to Abdalajís Valley (A-343), and then to El Chorro Train Station (MA-4401). This route roads are much narrower, have more curves and their surface is worse. Nevertheless, the way is shorter (34 km long, and you take 45 minutes).
Coming from Ronda
Finally, you can also arrive at the trail coming from Ronda, along the motorway that stretches from Cadiz (A-367) and goes to Ardales. There you can take the above MA-5403. This route is 60 km long and takes one hour to be crossed.
You can also approach the path by suburban trains. This is what we recommend to all visitors whenever it is possible.
2) YOU PARK AND COME TO THE CONTROL CABIN
Once you reach the area, you can approach the trail by road or train...
a) If you choose to come by road…
In the case you travel by road, you need to consider that you will take from three and a half to four hours and a half hours to come back to the spot where you have parked. There are two possibilities:
a. 1) You can leave your vehicle at El Chorro Train Sation in Álora, a spot where the route ends (southern exit).
In this case, there is to keep in mind that El Caminito del Rey Path starts one or one hour and a half later. This time is divided in the following way:
1) You need to wait for approximately 30 minutes to get on the shuttle bus at the Train Station which connects El Chorro to the area where The Conde de Guadalhorce (The Count of Guadalhorce) Reservoir is in Ardales. For more information about the route, please check the attached document.
2) You travel round 20 to 25 minutes by bus, depending on the traffic.
3) You will take 20 to 50 minutes to go from the Conde de Guadalhorce Reservoir to the control cabin at the entrance to the path at the Gaitanejo Hydroelectric Power Station as explained further on:
- The shorter way is through the smaller tunnel in front of the Kiosko Restaurant (some 200 metres away);
- The longer way starts at the chair of King Alfonso XIII, and then it goes through the longer tunnel, placed by the Kiosko Restaurant (the path is signposted downhill). It is 2.7 km long, narrow and we do not recommend it in the case of big groups or people who might have difficulty walking.
4) You need to wait from 15 to 30 at the control cabin so the groups would be formed according to the time of their visit.
a. 2) You can also park at the Conde de Guadalhorce Reservoir at the northern access in Ardales.
In this case your visit will take less time as there are only to be followed steps 3 and 4 as we explained above, but there is to plan that after you finish the route at El Chorro, in the southern part of the trail, you will need to go back to the start by shuttle bus that goes from El Chorro to the reservoir in the northern part, and follow steps 1 and 2. There are more visitors round lunchtime so the waiting time can be longer.
b) If you approach the path by train…
If you want to approach the path by train, you will come to El Chorro - Caminito del Rey Train Station in Álora. Check RENFE website in order to learn arrival and departure time and compare it with the shuttle buses timetable.
3) EL CAMINITO DEL REY ROUTE
This route is 7.7 km long, which is total of 4.8 km-long access ways and 2.9 km-long boardwalks. As for the boardwalks, which are the most famous part of the path, the distance between the entrance and exit to this part is 2.9 km, and it includes 1.5 km-long boardwalks and 1.4 km-long forest trails.
The estimated time you need to complete the route (this is the way that comprises the two boardwalks, and the paths and the forest trails that serve as the entrance to the area or its exit) is between three and four hours. From 1st October 2015, you can only walk in one direction, from the northern entrance in Ardales to the exit in the south at El Chorro in Álora. This route is downhill, so it is easier and it takes less time.
In conclusion, we offer the estimated time for the sections of the route.
- There are two paths if you come from the surroundings of the Conde de Guadalhorce (the Count of Guadalhorce) Reservoir in Ardales. The first one is shorter and it takes from 20 to 25 minutes. It goes through the smaller lit tunnel, which is placed some 200 m before El Kiosko restaurant, to the control cabin at the Gaitanejo Hydroelectric Power Station. The second path is longer, and it starts at the Chair of Alfonso XIII (this is a signposted downhill path). These 2.7 km can be covered in 50 minutes.
- It is 10 minutes distance from the control point to the access to the boardwalks.
- Total length of the inland route takes 150 minutes to be crossed: The controlled area: boardwalk – Hoyo Valley – boardwalk.
- From the boardwalk exit at El Chorro (Álora) to the control cabin: 15 minutes.
- From the control cabin (Álora) to the train station: 15 minutes (the distance from point 4 to 5 is 2.1 km).
When you come to the end of the path, you can take the train or go to your car if you parked it at El Chorro. If not, you should go back to the northern access by shuttle bus or on foot (as mentioned before, this way is rather long and goes along a narrow local road with no hard shoulder at some points).