A visit to Gibraltar for every tourist is a rare chance to encounter, at close quarters, a wild animal in its environment. Legend says if the monkeys disappear from Gibraltar so will the British which is why during the Second World War with the numbers dwindling Winston Churchill sent to North Africa for replacements.
Churchill’s plan worked, and the colony thrives to this day. There are several places to see the almost 300 monkeys in their natural habitat as they are littered around the Upper Rock. The easiest way and the way we recommend is to ride the Cable Car to the Top Station where, as soon as you reach the top, you will see monkeys sitting around waiting for you. The monkeys roam freely around the Top Station on the lookout for any unsuspecting tourist. If you haven’t had enough of the monkeys by the time you have finished enjoying the views and completed your multimedia tour the Cable Car also has a mid-way stop called the Ape’s Den which is exactly, what the name suggests. You can walk amongst them or watch them bounce off cars and buses as they play. Please be advised that the Cable Car will not stop at the middle station between the months of April to October. There are also other packs to be found around the Upper Rock Nature Reserve including on Charles V Wall, a 5-minute downhill walk from the Cable Car top station.
The Gibraltar macaques are actually a tailless monkey called a Barbary Macaque (Macaca Sylvanus). No one is sure how they got to Gibraltar, however, speculation has it they were brought either by the Arabs sometime after 711CE or the British after 1704. The Macaque is listed as ‘endangered’ in its homelands in Algeria and Morocco but here in Gibraltar they thrive under the care of the Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS).