Robben Island, famous for its prison that held Nelson Mandela for 18 years of his sentence, has a rich history waiting to be explored by travellers. This island also, many years ago, had a military base, hospital and mental institution. With that said, the amount of knowledge and fascinating stories one can find here is beyond any other tourist attraction of its sort. While on this tour, you’ll get to learn and in a way, experience, what it was like being captivated in a
prison on an island.
Ferry Trip to/from the Island
To get to and from Robben Island, one can travel by ferry. This gives you the opportunity to gaze over the ocean and take in the magnificent views of Robben Island and its surroundings. As the island is situated about 12km from Cape Town, one can only imagine the type of troublemakers sent to the
prison built on the secluded island.
Bus Tour around the Island
Once arriving on the island, a tour bus will guide you around the island so you can fully take in the surroundings. Telling a tale of harsh history, you will, alongside a square-towered church, see Sailboat cannons used to defend Cape Town in another era. You will also be guided around the village where water it gathered from boreholes and electricity is generated independently.
Nelson Mandela’s Cell
Cell number 5, Nelson Mandela’s prison cell for 18 years on Robben Island, has attracted travellers from all over the world for a number of years. This freedom fighter, incarcerated in the apartheid era, has become a legend in eyes across the globe. Simply being in the prison cell where this amazing leader once fought for his own freedom is exhilarating. While he finally won the battle over political views in 1994, his “home” became the reason for him to
keep fighting for racial equality. Today, when visiting his cell, you’ll only find a shallow
bowl and spoon, a sleeping mat, a small wardrobe and a blanket. But Nelson Mandela’s spirit
still lives on between the walls of this small national treasure.
Walking tour around the prison
To help you truly understand the implications of Robben Island prison, you’ll be guided through the prison by former inmates. They, and only they can tell the tales of what life was like during these harsh times in their lives. Some of the former inmates might indulge you with stories of the jazz band that grew quite popular among the inmates of the time. Another tour guide, also a former inmate, might tell you about how well the gardens were kept by prisoners trying to occupy their minds while passing the time. While walking along the cemetery, guides will also paint a vivid picture of how prisoners were forced to work, for
hours at end, in the hot sun, poking away at limestone hedges.
A beautiful Island, Robben Island carries with it a certain sense of liberation. Once you set foot on the island, it is almost tangible and once you leave, a piece of your memory will always be reserved for the place once haunted by ghosts of the past.
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