HAVING ENJOYED the shops, bars and restaurants, what else is there to do for the day visitor to Gibraltar?
Many people have heard of the Apes of Gibraltar which are in fact Barbary Macaques (a species of monkey) who live on the Rock and to a great extent in free colonies.
At one time they were the responsibility of the Gibraltar Regiment but are now cared for by the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society who ensure they are fed and they are without doubt one of the most famous of the tourist attractions on the Rock.
As they live in the Gibraltar Nature Reserve, visitors are not allowed to drive their own cars to the Upper Rock and the two ways of exploring the area are via the six minute ride on the cable car which was built in 1966 and return tickets cost from £6 (€7 approx.) return for children and £14.50 (€17 approx.) for adults and taxi.
The view from the Upper Rock is fantastic provided that the Levanter Cloud (formed by an easterly wind from the Mediterranean) is not present and at the summit there is a café, gift shop, wifi, photo opportunities and even a special tour App to download to your phone.
The monkeys understand human nature and whilst some will pose for photographs, others will be sniffing the air to see if they can smell food and if so, they will have no compunction about trying to steal it.
At the end of the day they are not pets but are wild animals with sharp teeth and a protective instinct for their young. Feel free to enjoy them but treat them with care.
For an extra cost, you can gain access to the Upper Rock Nature Reserve which includes the amazing St Michael’s Cave, said to have tunnels reaching all the way under the Straits to Morocco which is less than one kilometre away, Ape Rock, the Moorish Castle and the Great Siege Tunnels as well as the newly constructed walkway but be warned this does include some walking both up and downhill.
The cable car leaves from Red Sands Road which is a five minute walk from the Chief Minister’s Office in Main Street and is situated opposite the soon to be relocated Art Deco Fire Station and at the entrance to the Alameda Gardens (of which more later).
Clustered around the entrance to the cable car will be a number of taxis with drivers anxious to persuade potential customers to use their services rather than take the cable car. Now that a new Taxi Charter has been introduced, fares and obligations of the drivers have been clarified.
This charter requires that drivers charge £12 (€14 approx.) per passenger with a minimum of four passengers and that passengers may ask for up to four stops during the tour but will be responsible for costs of entry to the Upper Rock Nature Reserve.
If you want the excitement of the cable car and the view as it travels 412 metres above sea level to the summit, then take that option but if you want to see more of the Upper Rock then the taxi option is probably best, although you may wish to check to see whether your party will be sharing the mini bus taxi with anyone else.
Next week we will consider the Alameda Gardens and other places of interest.