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Robben Island is an island in Table Bay just off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. It's flat and only a few metres above sea level and is mainly of importance because of the prison built here that held, amongst others, the former South African president Nelson Mandela during the days of Apartheid. It had been used since the 17th century as a way of isolating and imprisoning people, and between 1836 and 1931 was home to a leper colony. Under the apartheid government, Robben Island became a high security prison in 1959 and up until its closure in 1996, it held over 3,000 prisoners. Nelson Mandela was incarcerated from 1964 to 1984. In 1999, it was inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List.
Ferries depart at 9am, 11am, 1pm and 3pm, weather permitting, from Nelson Mandela Gateway, at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. It is a good idea to book the trip as soon as you arrive to Cape Town (or even before) as the tours are often booked up a few days ahead, especially during the high season.
Tickets cost R180 for adults and R90 for children.
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The ferry from Cape Town's Victoria and Albert Waterfront is the only way to get to the island, swimming is certainly not recommended.
There is no accommodation on Robben Island. For options, check the Cape Town section on accommodations.
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