This famous little windswept island has captured hearts and minds around the globe in recent history. Situated just a few kilometres from the glitzy Waterfront, it was “home” to Nelson Mandela for almost 20 years. The intention to silence anti-apartheid leaders by imprisoning them on Robben Island had the opposite effect and the island became a focal point for international resistance to the apartheid regime. Today it has become a symbol of freedom, the transformative power of forgiveness and a place of political pilgrimage.
The entire six square kilometre island is now a UN World Heritage Site.
Daily tours depart by ferry from the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the Waterfront. The ferry trip takes 30 min to the tiny harbour. From there a bus ride takes one to historic places like the kramat, leper graveyard, a church designed by Sir Herbert Baker and the lime quarry where political prisoners endured lengthy hours of tough physical labour. Driving along the shipwreck strewn coast you can spot some antelope, plentiful seabirds and the lighthouse. The last stop is the maximum security prison.
The guides are former inmates and will take you along the Footsteps of Mandela tour in the notorious B-section. Mandela’s sparse cell is open, the others locked and empty.
Check out A visit to Robben Island and Daily life of the prisoner for more info.