From the 1960′s until the end of apartheid in South Africa, Robben Island was used as a prison for those convicted of political crimes. Located just 15-minutes by ferry from the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, the island was most-famously known as the place where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 (of the 27 total years he spent in prison) years. A visit to the island is a “must-do” for most visitors to Cape Town.
Tours of the island are conducted at 9am, 11am, 1pm and 3pm (weather permitting) every day. The tour takes about 3 hours, including the ferry rides to and from the city. The tour starts with a bus ride around the island to learn its history and then continues with a look inside the maximum security prison and the daily life of the prisoners.
Guests will see where prisoners were processed, where they lived and learn about the conditions where were kept. The most interesting aspect of the tours though, is that each one is led by a former political prisoner who will also talk about his own story on Robben Island and will tell firsthand accounts of life as a political prisoner. It’s one of the best ways to learn about the history of apartheid in South Africa and to get perspective on the struggles that those who fought against the policy faced.
The tours cost 200 Rand per person. Tours regularly sell out and should be booked in advanced.
Photo Credit: Katie Hammel