A leper colony, an asylum and a prison are just some of Robben Island's incarnations during its turbulent history. Now ... More
A leper colony, an asylum and a prison are just some of Robben Island's incarnations during its turbulent history. Now housing a museum, it is located about 11km from Cape Town's harbor and is most famous as a penal institution that incarcerated many of South Africa's well-known political figures, most notably Nelson Mandela. It was opened to the public in January 1997 and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on 1 December 1999. Each tour consists of a bus trip around the island and a guided tour of the prison. The guides are all ex-inmates and provide personal accounts of prison life. Tours are between 3-5 hours long for the whole experience. Pre-booking is recommended; check website for more details.
Robben Island is definitely a must-do activity while you're in Cape Town. The tour itself is broken into 2 parts over the 3 1/2 hours - 1) a prison tour and 2) a bus tour of the island. Historically, it's quite interesting that the tours are led by political prisoners who were incarcerated there. I wished that this part could've lasted longer - I felt rushed thru some of the displays, and would've liked to learn more in some places. The second part then seemed rushed, because we had to make the ferry back (it's all timed tickets), but it does give you a quick opportunity to stop and enjoy the view of Cape Town and Table Mountain.
It doesn't hurt to try for reservations before your trip, especially during high season - they were booked about three weeks in advance over Christmas/New Years.
Robben Island has been an emotional experience for me .It has bring back memories of years of repressive and authoritives years of my life.
The Island as the local call it,is also a healing place with the peace and quiet ,it make the memeories of the past a forgiving place.
I will definitely go back .
Be sure to get on one of the fast ferry's. Really expanded my understanding of what happened in South Africa. Tour is a little long for smaller childen and may be too intense in subject matter for those under 10.
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