Island is world renowned as the prison in which Nelson Mandela spent much
of his 27 years of incarceration. But prior to Nelson Mandela and his
fellow political dissidents, the island had a 400 year-long and unhappy
history as a dumping ground for any unwanted persons - from those who
went against the political, social or religious grain of the day, to criminals,
lepers and lunatics.
Many apartheid activists and former inmates consider
it as their alternative political "university". Today a moving
memorial to a long liberation struggle, it is one of South Africa's most
significant historical sites, where former political prisoners will act
as your guides.
The Island, surrounded by the cold, restless and shark-infested
waters of Table Bay, is situated ten kilometres off- shore and is 575
hectares in size. It is home to a rich and varied marine life, particularly
seabirds, some of which are rare migrants.
A thirty min trip by catamaran (or alternately a historical boat (previously
used to taxi prisoners to the Island); every day, every hour, 9am to 2pm,
from Nelson Mandela Gateway at the Waterfront.