A Complete Guide to the Rock of Gibraltar
Nobody visits The British territory without planning a visit to the Rock of Gibraltar! It’s the definition of the territory and being the main attraction, it’s what lure tourists the most into visiting. The 426m high rock is declared as a nature reserve and as you probably know, it’s home to Europe’s most famous monkeys: The Barbary Macaques, around 300 of them!
How do you Get to the Rock of Gibraltar?
The Rock of Gibraltar is visible from anywhere, both Spain and Gibraltar. Accommodation is pretty expensive in Gibraltar, but despite that, there is one way to score cheap accommodation. Your adventure will have to start at the Spain-Gibraltar border. The crossing is not a big issue. Always have your passport along with your ID card with you, just in case you end up doing what we did! Try to plan your crossing in or out of the territory at the time when one of the planes lands on the Gibraltar runway. It’s just spectacular to see!
Taking the Cable Car or Hiking it?
Hiking it! Duh! It’s free. Well, kind of. You’ll still need the admission ticket – but still, it’s much cheaper! As you can imagine, the cable car was too expensive for us, and to be completely honest, it would have made the activity too short. There is more than one way to hike up. We went to take on the route starting from the Jewish Cemetery and that’s for two reasons:
Firstly, right at the starting point, there are the famous ‘Mediterranean Steps’ which will take you up to the highest point – O’Hara’s Batteries. Prepare your feet and knees for some serious stair climbing, but it’s a beautiful scenic route portraying both Europe and Africa. The second reason was that the Jewish Cemetery stands on the far side of the Rock of Gibraltar. Therefore, by walking to where the monkeys are mostly gathered, you would have covered most parts of the natural reserve.
The Jewish Cemetery is situated on the far side on the peninsula, but luckily bus number 2 goes directly there passing through Glacis Road. That’s just a 10-minute walk from the border. Unfortunately, Google Maps is not equipped with all of Gibraltar’s bus routes, so you’ll have to take our word for it. Sit tight, stop at North Gorge bus stop and walk towards the Jewish Cemetery. Here is the bus network map, like old times.
Points of Interest Around The Rock of Gibraltar
Found at the endpoint of the Mediterranean steps, this is an artillery battery at the highest point of the Rock of Gibraltar. It was constructed in 1890 and was in use during World War II. It was last fired during training exercises in 1976, a great part of Gibraltarian history!
Standing 340m directly above sea level, Gibraltar’s Skywalk offers breath-taking 360º views spanning three countries and two continents. The Skywalk’s floor is made up of layers of laminated glass, around 4.2cm in thickness. Amazingly enough, it is designed to withstand the weight of 5 Asian elephants, or 340 people, standing on it at the same time. However, for obvious safety reasons, visitors are limited to a maximum of 50 at a time. But still, 5 elephants sitting on glass would be impressive!
The Monkey Feeding Station
This is where the daily feeding of the monkeys takes place, although we just spotted one monkey and a ton of food leftovers when we walked by. It’s like she was late for the party!
What’s more important at this location is the stairs back down. After visiting the monkeys at the top station (scroll down), one can climb down through the stairs at the feeding station. Just keep following the path and it will take you into town, which is much closer to the border than going back to the hike’s starting point.
Cable Car Top Station
This is where the cable car would have stopped you, and it’s where most of the monkey action is taking place. The Barbary Macaques are scattered all around the Rock, but here is where you’ll find them in large numbers. It’s an amazing experience as it’s not common to have free-roaming monkeys around you anywhere in Europe. Something similar we experienced was on Koh Phi Phi island in Thailand, but gotta say, those Asian monkeys are way harder to deal with. They’re just bad*ss!
Monkeys on the Rock of Gibraltar: To Touch or Not to Touch?
Every responsible website will tell you not to. We advise that too since after all, these are indeed wild animals. BUT, if one of them decides to jump on top of your head, or else the temptation gets the better of you, these are our tips.
- DO NOT climb up the Rock of Gibraltar with stuff that’s easy to be grabbed such as sunglasses, handbags, visible food, etc.
- DO NOT make any subtle movements. Even if a monkey jumps on your head or shoulder, making an instant movement will give it the idea that you’re trying to attack and this can result in a nasty bite. Instead, keep calm and let it do its thing.
- DO NOT feed the monkeys. The monkeys are fed daily around the Rock, on a specific diet to keep them healthy. Besides, you could be fined. HOWEVER, having something small in your pockets to trade with them just in case they grab something from you wouldn’t hurt either!