Welcome to SafariNow. Get off your accommodation booking by paying with the voucher code before .

About Robben Island Museum and Nelson Mandela Gateway

“Today when I look at Robben Island, I see it as a celebration of the struggle and a symbol of the finest qualities of the human spirit, rather than as a monument to the brutal tyranny and oppression of apartheid. It is true that Robben Island was once a place of darkness, but out of that darkness has come a wonderful brightness, a light so powerful that it could not be hidden behind prison walls… ' Nelson Mandela

This famous little windswept island has captured hearts and minds around the globe. Situated just a few kilometers 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. Instead, Robben Island came under the spotlight as a focal point for international resistance to the regime. Today it has become a symbol of freedom, the transformative power of forgiveness, and a place of political pilgrimage. The entire 6 square kilometer island is now a UN World Heritage Site.

In 1961 an austere maximum-security prison was built on Robben Island. It was here that Nelson Mandela was sent after receiving a life imprisonment sentence in 1963. Political and common-law prisoners were initially lodged together. Contact with the outside world was limited to receiving and sending two letters a year. Beatings, hard physical labour in the lime quarry, prolonged solitary confinement and insufficient food, bedding and clothing were endured for many years. Hunger strikes, legal action and international pressure eventually brought better conditions. The prison even became an informal university behind bars, with prisoners tutoring their warders. 1991 saw the release of the remaining political detainees and in 1996 the common-law prisoners were transferred to the mainland.

Daily tours depart by ferry from the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the Waterfront. The ferry trip takes 30 minutes 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. The A-section houses the Cell Stories exhibition, evoking the meagerness of prison life. Former prisoners have loaned personal items including an amazing saxophone that works, crafted from found bits and pieces. Have a look at the interesting Smuggled Camera Exhibition in the communal cells. Prisoners managed to slip cameras onto the island in the late 1980s. The enlarged photos are heart warming, giving an indication of their solidarity, friendship and expectancy that it would soon be over. The entire trip lasts three and a half hours and costs around R150.

Need to know? Ferries depart at 09:00, 11:00, 13:00 and 15:00, weather permitting, from Nelson Mandela Gateway, at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. The standard tour to Robben Island is three-and-a-half-hours long, including the two half-hour ferry rides. For bookings: (0) 21 413 4200.

Robben Island Museum
Tel: +27 (0) 21 409 5169

Nelson Mandela Gateway
Tel: +27 (0) 21 413 4200

Telephone:
+27 (0)21 413 4220/1​ infow@robben-island​.org.za
Website:
www.robben-island.or​g.za
Reviews:
Things to do in V & A Waterfront

Reviews for Robben Island Museum and Nelson Mandela Gateway

1 review Reviews of

5 out of 5 stars
5 star
1
4 star
0
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
Anya Viviers
30 June 2011

Great, emotional experience. A must for every South African.

Accommodation near Robben Island Museum and Nelson Mandela Gateway

Ellesmere Luxury Apartments

Sleeps 12 in 4 rooms

The modern contemporary design of our luxury Ellesmere Waterfront apartments provides the ultimate...
R2700
Avg per night

Mountain Marina

5 Reviews
Sleeps 80 in 20 rooms

Mountain Marina is a collection of one, two and three-bedroom apartments, designed to provide the ultimate luxury and spacious comfort for...
R2150
Avg per night

V & A Waterfront 405 Kylemore...

5 Reviews
Sleeps 2 in 1 room

This beautifully furnished, luxurious apartment is situated in the prestigious and popular V & A...
R3500
Avg per night

The Portswood Hotel

Sleeps 202 in 101 rooms

The Portswood Hotel is situated in the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. It is just over 20 kilometres from the Cape Town International Airport...
R3213
Avg per night for 2 guests
Waterfront Village, situated on the water’s edge in the picturesque V&A Waterfront Marina, next to...
R6450
Avg per night

103 Parregon

Sleeps 2 in 1 room

103 Parregon is a gorgeous one-bedroom apartment with an open-plan kitchen and a large terrace with views of the marina and the yachts....
R2760
Avg per night

Robben Island Museum and Nelson Mandela Gateway Map

Click to interact with the map
Click to display the map
Robben Island Museum and Nelson Mandela Gateway is 0.1km from the centre of V & A Waterfront , the nearest airport 20.7km (Cape Town International Airport).
*Distances are shown as the crow flies and not necessarily the actual travelling

Other things to do near V & A Waterfront

Proud of it's Argentinian influences, Chakkachurri Bar offers an exceptional venue for a night...
Come and enjoy the thrilling experience of real-time combat with G-Force Paintball, perfect for...
Ridgemor wines dates back to 1670 and is considered one of the oldest wine farms in the area....