Gibraltar is full of fine tourist attractions but many come to enjoy its plants, wildlife, migratory birds and wonderful creatures in the surrounding seas
The flora and fauna of Gibraltar and its coast attract many visitors who come to see the dolphins, whales, apes and migratory birds. The beautiful established gardens and nature reserve are full of interesting Mediterranean and worldwide species.
All this flourishes because of Gibraltar’s enviable position on the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula. Gibraltar is known to all as ‘The Rock’ and is a 426 mt. high Jurassic limestone rock covering an area of just under 6sq kms.
Gibraltar’s coastline is lapped by the Mediterranean, Gibraltar Bay and the Bay of Algeciras. This is where the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean meet and the coast of north Africa is merely a stone’s throw away.
Breeding Grounds for Dolphins
The Straits of Gibraltar and the Bay of Algeciras are popular breeding grounds for the Common and Striped Dolphin during the summer months. Humpback and Sperm whales are often spotted too.
Several companies run Dolphin boat rides out to the Bay of Algeciras from the marina in Gibraltar and offer plenty of opportunity to see these charismatic creatures in their natural surroundings plus turtles, sunfish and flying fish.
The 90 minute cruise covers quite an area and views of the Rock from out at sea are stunning.
Looking for Peace and Tranquility in the Gardens
The Alameda Botanical Gardens went through a period of neglect but fortunately are now one of the most relaxing and lovely spots on Gibraltar. Founded in 1816 they contain a multitude of Mediterranean and worldwide plants, some exotic and rare.
The gardens are a sought after wedding venue with paths shaded by palms, olives, yuccas and many tropical plants. They certainly deserve to be explored and in the heat of the day visitors can find shade and tranquillity.
Gibraltar’s Nature Reserve
High up on the west face of Gibraltar is a huge expanse of green. This nature reserve can be reached via the cable car, the Moorish Castle or the Jews Gate. Pathways meander through spectacularly natural areas covered with Mediterranean plants such as bouganvillea, jasmine, lavender, a variety of succulents, palms and the gorgeous mauve blooms of the Jacaranda.
This is also home to many native animals and birds and the views from this upper Rock across to Spain, Morocco and down to Gibraltar town are breathtaking. It can get very hot so it’s wise to carry plenty of water and wear good flat walking shoes.
Birdwatchers and the Migratory Birds
Birdwatchers know that Gibraltar is an important migratory point to spot birds as they fly from Europe to North Africa during Spring and Autumn. The Gibraltar society has recorded over 300 species that include peregrine falcons, hoopoes and buzzards.
Beware of the Apes
The famous apes are in fact tail-less monkeys of the Barbary Maaque variety and can be found on the Upper Rock. They will also corner visitors at the Siege Tunnels and St Michael’s Cave. Importantly, to protect their health, it is now against the law to feed them and a fine is in place.
They can be persistent and sometimes a little aggressive when approached, particularly if they have young with them. It is sensible not to walk along with an ice cream or a plastic bag of any sort as they will think there is something to eat and certainly make every effort to secure it!
Legend has it that while the apes are resident in Gibraltar, then so will the British.
Gibraltar is steeped in history and offers visitors a diverse range of attractions and activities. In fact there is something for everyone and the perfect destination for a long weekend break.
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