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The Monkeys Of Gibraltar And How To See Them

The Monkeys Of Gibraltar And How To See Them

Many cruises sailing around the Mediterranean and Canary Islands stop in Gibraltar, a peninsula off the southwest coast of Spain. As a British crown colony, it is popular with Britons who love its familiarity. However, one of its other top highlights is the monkeys of Gibraltar. 

Below, we tell you all you need to know about the monkeys of Gibraltar and how to see them. Discover the best place to see the monkeys, top safety tips when you are around them and whether they will steal your food! 

Discover the monkeys of Gibraltar

The monkeys of Gibraltar are the only wild monkeys found in Europe. These tailless monkeys, also known as Barbary Macaques or Apes, are often confused for apes.

Native to North Africa, particularly the Rif and Atlas Mountains of Morocco, they are believed to have been introduced to Gibraltar by the Moors in the 8th or 9th centuries. These days, the monkeys of Gibraltar have become an iconic symbol of this territory and a draw for visitors from all around.

Where can I see the monkeys of Gibraltar?

The monkeys of Gibraltar are a popular tourist attraction, with their population in Gibraltar estimated to be around 230-300. In Africa, their numbers are declining. However, in Gibraltar, the Barbary Macaques’ population remains healthy.

The best place to see the monkeys of Gibraltar is at the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. An area of breathtaking beauty, the nature reserve rises 420m above sea level and is another favourite attraction in Gibraltar.

The monkeys of Gibraltar are long-term residents, the nature reserve being their home for several hundred years, so you’ll often see the monkeys roaming freely in this area.

Getting to the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, Gibraltar

You can access the Upper Rock Nature Reserve by taking a cable car from the centre of Gibraltar or hiking to the top of the Rock.

The Cable Car

The cable car is open every day from 9:30 am to 7:15 pm, with the last cable car going down at 7:45 pm. However, between 1st October and 31st March, the cable car closes earlier, at 5:15 pm. 

The ride runs every 10-15 minutes and only takes six minutes to reach the summit. Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted with the most magnificent views across Gibraltar, the Costa del Sol and across to the Rif Mountains of North Africa. You’ll probably be able to spot your cruise ship too! 

You’ll find the cable station alongside Alameda Gardens at the southern end of Main Street. At the time of writing, ticket prices are £18.00 for adults, £8.50 for children and £14.50 for senior citizens. Booking tickets in advance is advisable, especially when arriving by cruise ship.

If you’re keen to learn more about the area’s history and wildlife, including the monkeys of Gibraltar, you can pick up an interactive multimedia guide, included in the price of an adult ticket. Then, when you reach the top station, you’ll find the Top of the Rock Café, the Mons Calpe Suite Restaurant and Bar, and a souvenir shop for unique gifts to take home.

Walking to the top of Gibraltar Rock

It is also possible to walk to the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. It will take around two hours, with the route consisting of steep steps and roads. Once there, entry to the Nature Reserve to see the monkeys is £13 per adult. 

There are several designated walking trails around the reserve, where you can observe the monkeys in their natural habitat. There are also other key historical sites to visit, including St. Michael’s Cave, the Great Siege Tunnels, the City Under Siege Exhibition and Moorish Castle, all of which offer a glimpse into the fascinating history of Gibraltar.

Can I cruise to see the monkeys of Gibraltar?

Many leading cruise lines offer cruise itineraries that stop in Gibraltar, including Celebrity Cruises, P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Marella Cruise (Tui) and Fred. Olsen Cruises

From the cruise port in Gibraltar, it is 1.5km or around a 15-minute walk into town, where you can get on the Cable Car to see the monkeys of Gibraltar. Almost all cruise lines will offer excursions to the Gibraltar Nature Reserve, and you’ll also see taxis at the cruise terminal offering tours of the main attractions.

Will the monkeys of Gibraltar steal my food?

If you are wondering if the monkeys of Gibraltar are dangerous, it is vital to remember that they are wild animals. Therefore, it is best to enjoy observing the monkeys from a safe distance, respecting their natural habitat. 

To stay safe when coming to see the monkeys, you should follow a few guidelines:

  • Do not make any sudden or fast movements around them.
  • Do not touch or reach towards them; instead, keep a safe distance.
  • Be mindful of your personal belongings. Monkeys are known to be curious and may try to grab items such as sunglasses, hats, and cameras. 
  • Do not feed the monkeys; it is illegal, can lead to aggressive behaviour and can also harm their health.
  • Do not have food nearby the monkeys as even just the smell can attract them.

Gibraltar is a captivating region, offering many fascinating and beautiful places to visit. Their resident monkeys will provide a memorable encounter that will be just one of the incredible highlights of your cruise holiday.  

If you’d like to know more about visiting Gibraltar, or would like to book a cruise holiday that stops here, please get in touch with our cruise specialists.

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