Take a Boat Trip to Robben Island, the Monument Immersed In History
Robben Island is an iconic remnant of the past and a popular tourist attraction. More than a decade after the fall of Apartheid, the UNESCO World Heritage Site still serves as a reminder of South Africa’s tumultuous history. Immerse yourself in the experience by setting off on a boat tour to the island. As the ferry departs from the Nelson Mandela Gateway, you find yourself on an immersive journey that takes you back in time…
Visiting Robben Island
The island, as we know it, served as an exile for political prisoners and activists, its 500 year time line explores more than the history of apartheid and slavery. This place of banishment also played an important role in warfare and was perceived as a suitable lodging for persons unwanted by society, such as criminals, the mentally ill and a colony of lepers.
Get on board the Robben Island ferries, The Dias or Susan Kruger, to make your way to the island. Here former prisoners will lead you on a tour around Robben Island Museum to significant sites that have made their mark on history.
What to expect
Busses wait to depart, as Murrays Bay Harbour welcomes you to the island. You will meet your tour guide on the bus, as you pass old buildings and a high wall built by prisoner sin the 1960s. Each guide is well equipped with knowledge that spans the 500 year history of the Island. The tour route includes a variety of significant places such as the Lime Stone Quarry, The Kramat, Robert Sobukwe’s House, army and navy bunkers, the Leprosarium, the Maximum Security Prison and Nelson Mandela’s prison cell.
Significant places to visit:
Robben Island and Robben Island Museum are not just sites to visit, the Island as a whole, offers symbolic, yet tangible proof of triumph over adversity. Your trip is not complete until you have seen the sites. The Island is filled with fascinating natural sites and man-made structures that have many stories to tell, from 70 shipwrecks, to the blinding lime-stone quarry that political prisoners laboured in, to a holy pilgrimage site; Robben Island is a place worthy of exploration.
- Nelson Mandela’s Prison Cell – You’ve heard all about how the former South African president spent over two decades incarcerated to fight for the freedom of all South Africans. To many this is the highlight of their tour, an opportunity to see and “experience” the conditions of his imprisonment.
- The Moturu Kramat – The Prince of Madura, Sayed Abdurahman Moturu, was one of Cape Town’s first imams. The Moturu Kramat commemorates the life of Moturu who was exiled to the island in the 1740s. Muslim political prisoners would pay homage at the sacred Muslim pilgrimage site.
- Limestone Quarry – Prisoners spent hours in the hot sun breaking rocks as part of their prison duties. While the possibility of being shot for attempting to escape the allocated perimeter existed, they created an informal centre of knowledge in cave located in close proximity to the quarry.
- Robert Sobukwe’s House – Robert Sobukwe, the leader of the Pan African Congress, was held in detention on Robben Island from 1963 to 1969, the building in which he was held was erected during World War 2
Robben Island is a fascinating place to visit. It is perhaps the one site that is a slice of history, perfectly preserved. Make a point of visiting one of South Africa’s most sought after tourist attractions. You won’t regret it!