One might think the scariest walking bridge in the world would be somewhere above the clouds in the Himalayas. In fact, it is El Caminito del Ray or the King’s Little Path, a place near Málaga in Spain which is afforded this lofty accoloade.
It is not for the faint-hearted at 105m (344.49ft) high and just 0.91m (3ft) wide. In 1999 and 2000, five people died after falling from the walkway. It reopened in 2015 after improved safety measures, and remains a classic bucket list activity.
Travel Essentials for the scariest walking bridge in the world
Airline: Wizz Air and easyJet from London Luton (LTN) to Málaga (AGP). From £50, return.
By train and bus: Málaga Maria Zambrano station to El Chorro station and then a bus to El Chorro. Time 50 minutes. €4.85 (£4.11) total.
By car: Málaga directly to Caminito Del Rey acceso norte auto. Time 50 minutes.
Parking: Near Tunel Largo is a small car park. All-day parking costs €2 (£1.70).
Need to know
Entrance: €10 (Adult) from the visitor centre.
Opening times: Every day except Monday. More information.
Length: Total route is 7.7km (4.78 mile) of which 4.8km (2.98 mile) are paths and 2.9km (1.80 mile) are footbridges.
Difficulty: An easy walk with no steep climbs.
Clothing and footwear: Bring warm clothing, walking shoes or boots.
Food: There are no shops en route.
At the start
El Kiosko is a short walk from the entrance at Tunel Largo and then 2.7km (1.68 mile) to the start of the walkway. On passing the Aleppo pine trees, the rocky path descends slightly overlooking the Gaitanejo reservoir. Across the reservoir, the exposed sandstone cliff formations give the rocks a distinctive, weathered look.
Along the walkway
The original walkway, built between 1901 and 1905, transported materials between the El Gaitanejo dam and the El Chorro hydroelectric plant. The plant provided electricity for the town of El Chorro.
The path follows the right bank of the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes. The Guadalhorce river runs through the canyon made of limestone and dolomite rocks. It is 90m (295.28ft) high and is less than 9m (29.53ft) wide in places.
Hundreds of workers lost their lives during the original construction. The new walkway, opened in 2015, is much safer than the original. There are small orange markings on sections of the handrails. Keep walking in these sections as the wooden planks underneath can break. Try not to look down.
The most dramatic sections of the walkway are those pinned to the side of the rock. The scenery is stunning across the Gaitanejo Gorge.
Crossing the bridge
The hanging bridge or Puente Colgante is a modern construction. This 30m (98.43ft) galvanised steel suspension bridge with metallic grid decking rests 90m (295.28ft) above the Guadalhorce river.
The bridge is secure, having undergone testing with a 110,000lb (49,895kg) load during construction; however, it does sway from side to side in high winds. A maximum of 10 people is allowed on the bridge at any one time. Many crawl across the bridge on their hands and knees.
The final section
After the hanging bridge, the path descends slightly out of the gorge, revealing the exposed southern cliff face. For many, the bridge followed by this final section makes El Caminito del Rey the scariest walk in the world. Remember not to look down too frequently.
Finishing the walk
After making it to solid ground, the final rocky stretch leads to the exit. From here, the bus takes people back to the El Kiosko restaurant. The ticket costs €1.50 for the 15-minute journey.
El Caminito del Rey is thought to be the scariest walking bridge in the world. However, with all the precautions in place, it does feel safe. At specific points on the course, looking down at the gorge below can be nerve-racking.
The walk is excellent value for money, thoroughly enjoyable, and not exhausting. The air is fresh, with a sense of calm, plus there are excellent photo opportunities and places to pause for rest. Visiting El Caminito del Rey, either as a day trip or as part of an extended road trip is an ideal way to explore this beautiful part of Andalucía.
Spain’s official tourism website – El Caminito del Rey
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