For centuries, to travel to Robben Island was to meet your doom. Today, you can get on a boat, visit the island and hear its stories told by those who lived them: former political prisoners. You can also discover 132 local bird species and other animals.
In 1999, Robben Island was granted World Heritage status by UNESCO, due to its historical importance. Today, this 11km island off the Coast of Cape Town is a very popular museum - but it was once a place of terror. It is located 20 minutes away from the centre of Cape Town and receives a daily average of 700 tourists during the low season and up to 2000 during the high season.
Here, you will find a living memory of the Apartheid era: this was the place where those who opposed the segregation regime were incarcerated. One of the prison’s most famous inmates was Nelson Mandela, who was imprisoned here for 18 years for leading the fight against Apartheid. However, Robben Island history of horror goes back all the way to the 17th and 18th centuries, when both the Dutch and the British transformed this island into a military base and a place to imprison sick people and those excluded from society.
During your journey you will explore museums, discover the stories that are kept in the archives, and visit churches, a school for the inmates’ children, the lepers’ cemetery, the stone quarry, the Guest House and the maximum security prison. You can also visit Nelson Mandela’s prison cell. All local tourist guides are former inmates and political prisoners.
The horror is over since 1996 and today the island is inhabited by roughly 132 bird species, including an African penguin colony, great cormorants, grey herons, whales and turtles.
Every day, the ferry boat departs at 9am, 11am and 11h30am. Gates close 10 minutes before boarding. When landing, a transfer will be waiting for you, which will take you to the places you will be visiting on the island.