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Review of Robben Island

Robben Island
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Full-Day Robben Island and Cape Town City Tour
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Full-Day Walk to Freedom Tour in Cape Town Including Robben Island
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Robben Island and Cape Town City Private Tour
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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 January 27, 2013

The Boat was 30 minutes late Tourists waiting in queues with no explanation..
Once arrived everybody was rushed off to the buses Couldn't help but notice on the pier the shop was closed. Little did I know it was only the beginning. Besides being whisked off like sheep in a paddock. I couldn't help but notice the extreme degradation of the flora and buildings lack of maintenance with weeds everywhere, rubble and litter in comparison the Island served no purpose other than to shock you how bad apartheid really was. The sad thing is in the New South Africa Robben Island was the only piece of history still living in post apartheid. Maybe the CEO instead of trying to elevate his political position by advertising onboard with a brief video on his success with the Island. He should actually catch the trip himself and visit the derelict Island he calls a Heritage sight. It should be shut-down! Again South Africa sends the wrong message to us as overseas visitors.
Its petiful....Sur, Uk

4  Thank Elton G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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4,437 - 4,441 of 6,226 reviews

Reviewed January 27, 2013

A visit to this iconic institution is of course a must during a visit to CT. Our bus tour was conducted by a very aggressive woman who spent most of the time interrogating and berating us for our lack of knowledge. At the end she informed us we could tip her if we wished - needless to stay noone on the bus accepted this invitation. Our second guide who had been a prisoner was much more sympathetic and indeed knowledgeable. Without going in to detail I felt that the whole experience could have been much better if a little more effort had gone into the presentation and planning of the tour. Indeed, at the end I felt as if I had been processed as quickly as possible through a factory line which needed sorting out and modernising.

1  Thank grampus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 26, 2013

This was the highlight of our 9 year old sons trip to South Africa.
You can hear, smell and sense the weight of the history in this place. The descriptions of life in the prison given by the ex prisoner guides are chilling.
The most poignant place on the island is the quarry with the pile of stones at the entrance left by Nelson Mandela and the former prisoners.
Yes, there are things which could be done better but so many museums around the world have been clinically cleaned up removing the sense of historic reality. The prison here looks like the prisoners have only just left and that makes it really memorable.
The weather was rough and the boat journey was harrowing and although we were terrified it actually made the experience more real as we could try to imagine the utter fear of people going out there as inmates and as visitors.
So glad we went. Don't think I could do the boat journey again!!!

1  Thank nini2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 25, 2013

The boat trip is great - try and get out on the top deck if there is space. The bus tour part of thr trip is a bit rushed and a bit lacking depth or feeling. The best part of it is getting of the bus for pictures of Table Mountain and Cape Town. The walking part of the tour around the Max Security prison with an ex-inmate is superb. Very interesting to hear from someone who was unfairly incarcerated there but returns voluntarily to tell people what happened there. Impressive guys! If your in CT then do this trip but get to the Max security bit asap for the real insight!

Thank SFayers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 25, 2013

Robben Island really is an amazing place. Although its notoriety comes mainly from its role as a prison during apartheid it has also served as a leper colony and a ww2 base. However, the tours to Robben Island are abysmal. The ferry ride takes about 45 mins and as soon as you reach the island you are herded into a bus and driven around for an hour while a guide points out the major features. Following this there is a tour of the prison done by a prior inmate. The bus ride felt rushed, I would have preferred to have walked with an audio guide, there were several major sites that the guide didn't even mention. The prison tour was also incredibly rushed and the guide didn't really add anything which was disappointing. The place is also falling apart and it looks like any info graphics that were installed haven't been maintained or replaced since 1994. So much could be done to make it more interactive but as it is it's just empty cells and corridors. In some of the cells there are testimonies from the prisoners who inhabited them, but we didn't get enough time to read any. The island is also interesting from an ecological point of view with colonies of penguins and many pairs of oyster catchers, yet once again there was no time to look at these things and we were immediately herded back onto the ferry.

There is no doubt that Robben Island represents an important piece of history, but the state of the tour was hugely disappointing. So much could be done to make it more exciting, interactive and informative- what a missed opportunity for this amazing site!

2  Thank 295aliced
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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