Robben Island ~ a stark reminder of South Africa’s dark past

While in Cape Town, South Africa, one of our group outings was to infamous Robben Island…

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I enjoy being on the water and am not prone to seasickness but the boat ride to the island was difficult for some of my companions. Since we were in South Africa during winter, the water was fairly choppy and it is not a quick trip — probably why the island was chosen to house political prisoners. The views are gorgeous from the boat but the boat that we were on blew exhaust straight back onto everyone on the main deck and there were not enough seats for everyone — be careful while leaning on the railings – the boat rocks pretty deep into the water. It’s not that I felt unsafe but my recommendation is too pay attention if it’s choppy. If prone to seasickness try to find a seat on the small top deck in the front.

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Once on the island, we boarded a bus and went to the main prison where Nelson Mandela was held. Former political prisoners conduct the guided tours. We had a tour of different units, the fenced-in outdoor space for the prisoners, and Nelson Mandela’s cell.

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We hopped back on the bus for a tour around the island, which included a Church, the army and navy bunkers, the quarry where the prisoners worked, Robert Sobukwe’s house, and also an area where employees of the island reside.
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There are gorgeous views of the ocean and other islands off in the distance. Aside from the main prison the remainder of the tour transpires on the bus because the island habitat is protected — so no walking around. Even from the bus I was able to take some great photographs.

Nelson Mandela is an inspiration and Robben Island is an important part of South Africa’s history; I am glad that I was able to tour the prison and hear more about his time on the island.

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