The following day we went to Robben Island. We had tried previously to book tickets online and through the hostel for the Robben Island ferry, but both said they were sold out. On a whim the day before, we decided to see if there had been any cancellations or returns. The woman at the desk didn’t know why we were so surprised as they were far from fully booked. So don’t worry if there are no advance tickets available, there’s a strong chance you can get them a day or two before from the main office on the waterfront.
We decided to take the morning ferry and we were thrilled with this choice, as due to weather, the later ferries were all cancelled. Don’t be late (even on the return from the island) as it will leave without you!!!
The island is a fascinating place to visit and the guides shared a lot of information; our guide was very light-heated and made effort to ensure that all tourists were actively involved in conversation. Although I enjoyed the tour and was pleased that I had been on it, I felt that it was very strangely operated. In order to ensure that people respect and care for the island, the tours are all on buses and there were only two opportunities to get off. One at a half way point for a toilet stop and a quick drink and one at Nelson Mandela’s prison cell.
Apart from this, there were limited views of all other sights from the bus windows and they practice a rule of no seat swapping to avoid any arguments. That being said, I would still recommend experiencing the island, just be aware that the only tour on the island doesn’t provide ideal opportunities for independent exploring or really seeing what is there.
The tour of the cells was a walk-through run by ex-prisoners or prison guards. It was interesting, yet very sad to see and the first hand experiences that are offered by these guides were fascinating to hear. There is a great sense of melancholic respect surrounding the island and the people on it. Although a little disappointed by the structure of the tour, I would not have wanted to miss seeing this infamous little place that holds so much history of South Africa, and after all, it was beautiful.