Monkeying around with the Apes of The Rock

Dear mummy, we’ve recently returned from our trip to Gibraltar to see my grandparents. We had a fantastic time on ‘The Rock’ and have seen some wonderful things on our adventures. A week ago we shared our story on the caves of St Michael’s, but there is so much more to tell you about.

Barbary MacaquesOne highlight of our trip was seeing the world famous Monkeys, or ‘Rock Apes’ as they are known locally.

They are a tailless species of Barbary Macaque (Macaca Sylvanus) Monkeys and Gibraltar’s Rock (mountain area) homes the only population of these animals in Europe!

300 monkeys live on the Upper Rock area of the Gibraltar Nature Reserve. However some Monkeys do pop down into the town occasionally to scavenge (or go shopping at Casemates). Only that morning, before we headed on our Rock Tour up the mountain, did we see one in the tree opposite our apartment.

The Rock if GibraltarWe got up close and personal with the group (troop) at Queen’s Gate near the sumit of The Rock. They are used to human interaction and came up to us and were very interested to see what was in our bags!

Nevertheless, they are still wild animals and will bite if frightened or annoyed. So we kept our distance just incase. They liked posing for photographs, as you can see!! We spotted a mummy carrying her baby in her arms which was super cute.

View from The Rock

Gibraltar’s Rock Apes used to be under the care of the British Army who controlled the population. An officer would be appointed to supervise their welfare, feed them and document them. Each new arrival was named after governors and high-ranking officers.

The Rock of Gibraltar

They received the same treatment as would an enlisted service man at the Royal Naval Hospital Gibraltar if they were sick. Since the withdrawal of the British garrison, the Government of Gibraltar now look after them.
Local legend has it that as long as the Monkeys exist on Gibraltar, the territory will remain under British rule. We can see why the tourists and locals love them so! They are beautiful animals and act like they own the place on The Rock.

Rock Ape with baby

As we were leaving, one Monkey decided to hitch a lift further down the slope, holding onto the wing mirror and then gracefully disembarking to the taxi drivers dismay. My mummy and daddy laughed at this!

A truly amazing sight and well worth a visit if you ever stay in Gibraltar.

Bella x

Packing my Suitcase

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

St Michael’s Cave in Gibraltar

St Michael’s Cave in Gibraltar

St Michael's Cave 1 This week we flew out to Gibraltar for a short break. We visited loads of places on ‘The Rock’ as it’s known to locals. But our favourite place was the stunning St Michael’s Cave on the Upper Rock Nature Reserve.

It’s the name given to a network of limestone caves located high above sea level (300 meters in fact) it receives nearly a million visitors a year and is very popular.

We can see why! The cave has been carved out by thousands of years worth of rainwater dissolving the rock. Cracks in ‘The Rock’ grew into large passages and made large Stalactites (which are dripping mounds of limestone hanging from the ceilings) and Stalagmites (that rise from the floor due to accumulation of ceiling drippings). Urgh! Yuck!

St Michael's Cave 2But in fact, they are quite beautiful especially when the cave formations are colourfully lit. Greens and blues shine their colours on them, casting shadows which make them kinda eerie.

We spot faces and eyes melting into the limestone. It must have been scary for prehistoric man who used to live there 15,000 years ago.

In 1974 a Neolithic bowl was discovered in the caves and some charcoal drawings. Two Neanderthal skulls have also been discovered in Gibraltar too! The Rock is full of history, tunnels and caves, man-made and natural. It was also long thought to be bottomless, a cavern and network of caves tunnelling under the ‘Strait of Gibraltar’ one end of the subterranean Ley Tunnel over 15 miles long. The ancient Greeks believed the cave to be The Gates of Hell and entrance to the underworld. Spooky.

Nowadays St Michael’s cave plays host to a variety of operas, orchestras and music concerts, as the acoustics are amazing. The auditorium has a seating capacity of 100 and is very large. We had a fab time visiting and it’s a trip we won’t forget for a long time.

Mummy & Daddy x

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall