Rock of Gibraltar Caves
When we were first approached about hiking in the St. Michaels Cave under the Rock of Gibraltar– it was a no brainer to say yes. It was described as a walk underground with a big lake that people often fall into. The thought of some of our group members falling into a lake was even more of a reason to say yes.
When we arrived, we toured the St. Michaels Upper Cave. The formations were amazing and it was huge! Apparently it is used as a concert venue sometimes because of it’s grand cathedral-esque space. Although it was beautiful, there are colored lights that are displayed up the sides of the cave that change with corresponding music. The cave would have been more breath taking to us if the natural colors of the formations would have been shown.
Hiking St. Michaels Lower Cave in the Rock of Gibraltar
We meet our guide, Julian, outside the upper caves. He took us down a small path that ended at what looked to be an open mine shaft. This lead us to St. Michaels Lower Cave, which you need a guide for. We walked through to an open area where we got read with helmets and initial instructions. The group headed down a narrow staircase which was our first indication that we were a bit claustrophobic.
As we continued to get a tiny bit further into the caves, Maxwell and I realized we were 100% claustrophobic. Maybe this explains a little bit of Max’s fear of flying…
Julian explained that there was only one way in and one way out. This thought was terrifying. What if seismic activity happened and we were stuck in there forever! (I shouldn’t have watched documentaries on Chilean miners- ever)
*Sidenote: there was an earthquake in Spain and Gibraltar 3 weeks after we climbed through these caves. Yikes!
About 10% of the way through the caves Maxwell and I had a severe panic attack. When I am having one, I like to be left alone. My poor friend group was trying to be comforting but I was not having it.
Although I apologized later that day, I will do so again now. I am sorry for what I said when I was having a panic attack and believed the cave to be closing in on us.
After I received some tough love from them for my outbursts, we calmed down and finished the hike. There were many obstacles that included many ropes, slippery spots, and tip toeing around a huge underground lake. The ledge that was available for walking got pretty narrow. Despite that, none of our group fell in! The hike was easier on the way out because we knew the obstacles and because Max and I were hauling to get out of there.
In total, to the end and back, it took about 2.5 hours; which for a group of 6 of us, was not too bad! Overall, I would recommend this hike for adventurous types that are up for a moderate physical challenge. Our guide, Julian, was fantastic. He was patient and supportive for our group, but especially to Maxwell and I. His contact information can be found on St. Michaels Lower Cave site. Would Maxwell and I do it again? No. But I appreciate the experience in retrospect 🙂
Check out these 3 videos from the hike! The GoPro was great but unfortunately the lighting was poor in the caves. Enjoy!