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“Very interesting, but could be better...”

Robben Island Museum
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Half-Day Robben Island Tour from Cape Town
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: During the apartheid years Robben Island served as a prison for political activists.
Reviewed 8 March 2011

We booked tickets online some months in advance as we felt this was one place you "had" to visit whilst in Cape Town; and did this as part of a whole day spent at the V&A Waterfront.

We went on the 1pm catamaran sailing, which was a comfortable 30min crossing each way, watching variosu relevant documentaries on the catamaran to/from Robben Island.

With hindsight, because it was a hot day and the busses they ferry you around on are not air-conditioned, we wished we had either gone earlier or later in the day.

The tour of the island, once we got there was a bit of a mixed bag, in that we had a lady guide on the 45 min bus section of the trip who was a little too political in her "aggressive" story-telling (you almost felt you she was holding you responsible for any persecutions she had experienced in life). Yet, the former inmate who guided us round the internal part of the prison visit, was charming, charismatic and fascinating to listen to, whilst he told his life story and shared his experiences of prison life at Robben Island.

Those 45 mins with him made it all worthwhile! He even continues to live voluntarily on the island with his family, with his day job being a tour guide on the prison visits....

Inside the prison itself, you can access more than a dozen cells, each containing the heart-wrenching stories of the political prisoners who were incarcerated within these cells - well worth reading.

This is no short trip, as you need to allow at least 4hrs, and to be honest some parts of it were spoiled by the patronising way in which the lady bus guide presented herself, but there is so much history in this place, that we felt it was a worthwhile trip to see where history was created, and to meet and talk to people like the ex political prisoner that we had the pleasure of meeting.

Date of experience: March 2011
3  Thank Luxtraveller66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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in 747 reviews
"political prisoners"
in 344 reviews
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in 257 reviews
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in 206 reviews
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in 93 reviews
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in 76 reviews
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in 102 reviews
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in 61 reviews
"long walk to freedom"
in 73 reviews
"tour guide"
in 404 reviews
"moving experience"
in 143 reviews
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in 107 reviews
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in 154 reviews
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in 115 reviews
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5 771 - 5 775 of 7 541 reviews

Reviewed 18 February 2011

These are blasphemous words, I know. I had heard the complaints but thought it would be foolish to come to Cape Town and not see this important part of its history. But there was little history to be had. The tour rushes you from site to site, and we had at best 5 minutes in the block of Mandela's cell, with 60 tourists trying to all take photos at the same time. The worst crime is that they rush you through the "C block stories" that explain the lives of other prisoners. At best, it's rushed, not very informative, and you see very little. At worst, it disrespects the other political prisoners that toiled for years on Robben Island. For three hours of your time, you may want to consider the District 6 museum and exploring other historical sites. But if you must go, book your tickets online in advance.

Date of experience: February 2011
5  Thank DCglamper
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 February 2011

A visit to Robben Island is a must do experience in Cape Town. It is more than an eye opener, and can be deeply moving. Our tour guides were all past prisoners and it is amazing how they were able to weave in deep insight and humor at a place that one would think had so much of disturbing memories for them. Kids especially would love the colony of African penguins on the island. As our guide had put it, "If you are a South African and have not been abroad, here is where you can see Cape Town OVER SEAS!"

Date of experience: February 2011
1  Thank Abhijit_BLR
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 February 2011

I'm a tour operator and one of our most popular tours is the Robben Island tour. I think every South African should visit Robben Island at least once and for the tourists to SA, its the best way to learn about Madiba.

Date of experience: January 2011
Thank Bee_v1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 31 January 2011

We visited Robben Island on the last day of our trip to South Africa. Firstly the staff at the exhibition centre were so rude that I wanted to cancel our trip on principle! I have no idea why but their attitudes stink! My other half really wanted to see the island so i calmed myself down and off we went: the tour was good with excellent guides who are ex political prisioners and who are extremly passionate about the history of the island and people. Its just a pity that the whole thing was a rush from start to finish and you felt like an animal being herded along from one point to the next. One of our guides commented that he had so much more that he wanted to tell us but he felt that the tours were rushed also. We didnt even have time to visit the gift shop! We did not have time to see the islands huge population of penguins either and felt a bit cheated by that. The trip over/back can be very bumpy if it is windy so if you dont have good sea legs be prepared. Overall it is a place that is definately worth a visit and I found it quiet emotional listening to some of the stories during the tour so i actually felt it was a bit disrespectful not to allow visitors the time to appreciate this world heritage site and its history.

Date of experience: January 2011
3  Thank travelsavvy10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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