Robben Island – Somber or Symbolic?


Robben Island in Table Bay, Cape Town held many political prisoners at the end of the 17th century, particularly during apartheid, and the fight of the freedom fighters. Nelson Mandela was one of the iconic heroes who spent 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment on the island. It definitely reminds South Africa of its bitter past, but also with the fall of apartheid in the 1990s, of its bright future. Today Robben Island has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and many visitors flock to take tours to the island to visit this piece of history.

Visitors are guaranteed an interesting tour of the Island which begins at the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. Here you can view slideshows, visit the shop or enjoy a meal at the restaurant before taking the ferry to the island. The tour takes approximately three and a half hours and a former political prisoner will give you a guided tour, promising personal experiences that will pull at your heart strings. You will be taken to the maximum security prison where you can see the cell in which Nelson Mandela was incarcerated in.

There is also a wide variety of wildlife that can be spotted on the way to the island, such as seabirds and marine mammals, including the Southern Right whale, Cape fur seals and two species of dolphins. The wildlife that has made the island their home includes: bontebok, springbok, steenbok, fallow deer and eland. Tortoises and rabbits were also introduced to the island, but the rabbits have bred so prolifically that measures have been taken to reduce the population.

An island made of memories and many memoirs… why not visit it for yourself and see what feelings the experience conjures up in you.

Photograph compliments of Eye Witness News

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