Robben Island, located 10 kilometres from Cape Town, is a World Heritage Site and the unique symbol of triumph of the human spirit over adversity, suffering and injustice. Home to one of the world’s most famous prisoners and South Africa’s first democratic president, Nelson Mandela, this is a wonderful historical experience to understand and honour the important aspects of South Africa’s history represented by this Island.
Robben Island was first used as a whaling station. For nearly 400 years this was a place of exile, isolation and imprisonment where rulers sent those regarded as political troublemakers, social outcasts and unwanted of society. Over the centuries it also housed a mental institution, a hospital for the leper colony and a training and defence station in World War II.
The tour is truly an amazing and emotional experience. Something I believe every South African should experience and an excellent tour for foreigners to learn more about our history.
- Tours to the Island depart daily from the Nelson Mandela Gateway in the Clock Tower precinct at the V&A Waterfront.
- Here you can visit the Robben Island Information Centre. This unique museum depicts the history of Robben Island and the political struggle to overthrow apartheid.
- The tour takes between 3.5 to 4 hours.
- The boarding gates close 10 minutes before departure time.
- The ferry trip to the Island is approximately 35 – 45 minutes.
- Remember the ferry is weather dependant and trips can be cancelled so ensure to check on the day.
- I would not recommend this trip for young kids. It is a history tour!
- I recommend comfortable walking shoes, hat and sunscreen for summer. It is hot on the island.
- Refreshments are available on the ferry and there is a short break to buy a drink on the Island and the coffee is good!
- Cameras are allowed.
Once you arrive on the Island you will be transported from the ferry terminal by bus to the historical sites around the Island. Tours on the Island are guided by former political prisoners offering a unique insight into the history of the Island and a personal account of prison life. This is very special and our guide was emotional talking about his time on the island and providing interesting information and accounts of his interactions with the great Nelson Mandela.
The tour includes the Lime Quarry where the prisoners did hard labour, the Lepers Graveyard, the house of Robert Sobukwe’s where he lived in solitary confinement for nine years, the Bluestone Quarry, the army and navy bunkers and the Maximum Security Prison where you will see Nelson Mandela’s prison cell. At the Maximum Security Prison a talk will be conducted providing interesting information and facts about prison life.
Nelson Mandela, respected all over the world as a symbol of freedom over the struggle of apartheid and racism, spent 18 of his 27 years in prison here as a political prisoner. Madiba, as he is fondly remembered, lived a life of sacrifice to fight for freedom and will always be remembered by the South African people.
And…the view of Table Mountain from Robben Island is picture perfect!