Upper Rock Nature Reserve

For many visitors to Gibraltar one of the most popular attractions to visit during their holiday is the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. This beautiful protected area of Gibraltar lies about 420 metres above sea level and is home to some wonderful and rare flora & fauna. The Rock is also home to a variety of other attractions such as St. Michael's Cave, Jews Gate, Charles V Wall, the Great Siege Tunnels and both Spur and O'Hara Artillery Batteries.

Upper Rock Nature Reserve
Source: Flickr / ADTeasdale

Vehicles are prohibited to enter the Upper Rock Nature Reserve and for keen walkers the hiking trails to the top are an invigorating way to see the spectacular scenery and views. Most visitors though take the Rock of Gibraltar cable car that is located on Red Sands Road and makes a stop at the middle terminus for visitors who want to explore Apes Den. The ride to the top takes less than 10 minutes and once you arrive you will be given a multi-media hand held guide with information on the areas attractions which is included in the price of the cable car ride.

Once at the upper rock cable car terminus there are signposts to the nature reserve and you are free to explore at your leisure. The views are breathtaking, especially if you make the hike up to Jews Gate where on a clear day you can see Morocco's Rift Mountains. Being a protected area the animal and bird life that can be seen is a delight, and for most the cheeky antics of the Barbary Macaques is what they've come to see. It is best not to bring food with you as you will constantly be hassled by the monkeys that, when grabbing food have been known to make off with cameras and mobile phones too.

Flora & Fauna

Gibraltar's location at the head of the Strait makes it a chosen resting ground for a large variety of migrating birds, with over 300 species either making the rock their home or passing through on their way to far off lands. Of the birds to be seen on the rock, a good number are birds of prey and keen ornithologists come from all over Europe to see them. Visitors lucky enough may catch sight of a Golden Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle, Egyptian Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Montagu's Harrier, Eurasian Buzzard, Goshawk or Sparrow Hawk.

Although the Barbary Macaques can be seen throughout the Upper Rock Nature Reserve they tend to congregate where the majority of people are, in their opinion where the food is, and for visitors who don't get off the cable car at the middle terminus, it is still possible to walk to Apes Den from the nature reserve. Other animals visitors may spot include rabbits, bats, foxes and even on occasion the very rare and endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal. Flowers and plants abound throughout the reserve, although as pretty as they are, some are rare and the reserve is a protected area where picking any plants if forbidden by law.

Saint Micheal's Cave

Over countless millennia the gradual seepage of water through the porous limestone of Gibraltar's famous Rock has led to the formation of Saint Michael's Cave.