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Take a fascinating trip through South Africa’s difficult past with a tour of Cape Town and Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison. Visit the District Six Museum to get an in-depth look at the troubling history of apartheid in South Africa, and see how that system still impacts modern life in townships like Khayelitsha, Langa and Gugulethu. See how residents of these townships work to improve their lives and communities. Take a ferry to UNESCO-listed Robben Island for a tour of the former prison for political prisoners.

Highlights

  • Full-day guided tour of Cape Town and Robben Island
  • Visit District Six Museum and learn about apartheid history
  • Travel to nearby townships, including Langa and Khayelitsha, and meet their inhabitants
  • Ferry to Robben Island and visit Nelson Mandela’s cell
  • Small group limited to 12 people to ensure a unique and intimate experience

Recent Photos of This Tour

What You Can Expect

Cape Town Townships Tour including Robben Island

Tour one of the oldest apartheid housing schemes in the Cape

After getting picked up at your hotel, your first stop is the District Six Museum. This museum gives you an excellent look at the history of apartheid in this area, how it began in 1950 with the enforced eviction of more than 60,000 black South Africans from the district in order to make it an all-white neighborhood.

With this history in mind, your next stop is the township of Langa, the oldest township in Cape Town. Townships first sprang up under apartheid as places for non-whites to live. They were always in unsavory areas, and were essentially cut off from city infrastructure. In Langa with your guide, stop into a shebeen (tavern), go to a local market and visit a traditional healer. Next, visit Guga S’thebe Arts & Culture Centre to see the work being done to improve the lives of the Langa community, most of whom are Xhosa.

Next, head for the township of Khayelitsha. This is, by some estimates, the largest and fastest-growing township in the country. See both sturdy buildings made with bricks and mortar as well as hovels made with whatever is handy. This is a township with a budding infrastructure — including clinics and shopping malls.

Head back toward Cape Town for the last township visit, Gugulethu. This township was originally built specifically for migrant workers from the Transkei region of the Eastern Cape. Here, again, there are signs of both progress and poverty — shacks alongside restaurants and night clubs.

Back in Cape Town, enjoy some free time in the afternoon at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront where you can get lunch (own expense) before getting into a ferry to ride across Table Bay to Robben Island. The island was once a prison, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison. Today, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site where former political prisoners give tours.

See Mandela’s cell in the prison — it’s roughly seven square feet (0.6 square meters) — and hear what life was like for him and the other prisoners there, including how he was made to dig in a quarry when officials found out he was acting as a leader during a prisoner rebellion.

Contemplate the distance Mandela traveled from these prison gates to the presidential office as you ride the ferry back to Cape Town. The tour ends with a drop-off at your Cape Town hotel.

Customer Reviews

Elio G

5 star rating: Highly Recommended November 2016

Highly recommended

keligyrl

5 star rating: Highly Recommended November 2016

This is the 3rd time I'm having to write this review. I keep losing it when I hit post review. Anyway, our guide Titus was very knowledgeable, nice, funny, and efficient. I believe the name of one of the townships was Langa. We also visited the shanties. It was a sobering experience. We take so many things for granted. We visited an apartment occupied by two women and two babies. The apartment would have been considered condemned and unlivable in the United States. The shanties were the worst. Some of us were overcome with sadness by the sight of how the inhabitants there were living. It was truly sad to see. However, the preschool we visited in the shanties lifted our spirits. Those babies sang their preschool songs to us and we learned about their school. We all really enjoyed them. We were dropped off at the waterfront to board the ferry for the Robben Island portion of the tour. Our tour guide, an ex political prisoner, was very thorough and emphasized their plight as much as he could. I'd highly recommend this tour.

Keshia B

5 star rating: Highly Recommended November 2016

We started by visiting the District 6 Museum and the Langa Townships. This tour was extremely enlightening and very sad at the same time. I learned a lot about the townships of South Africa. The guide was excellent, he gave us a first hand account of what it's like to live in a township, and he explained that he currently resides in one. This visit made me want to give back to the people of South Africa, it was a very humbling experience. The Robben Island Tour was also great. I definitely learned a lot from this tour and would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning about South Africa's past.

Natesha G

5 star rating: Highly Recommended November 2016

This is an excellent tour. The tour guide is a former political prisoner. It was humbling visiting the prison.

shagron64

5 star rating: Highly Recommended November 2016

As part of this tour we visited District 6, Langa township and then onto Robben Island. The tour was very interesting and the guide was very informative. Got to see a whale on the way to Robben Island, which was amazing to see. On Robben Island we was taken on the visit to the prison by a guide who had been a former inmate and also saw Nelson Mandelas cell. The island tour was very interesting and we also saw penguins, a wonderful memorable experience.

Nasrin F

5 star rating: Highly Recommended October 2016

Highly recommend this tour.

Shahrzad M

5 star rating: Highly Recommended September 2016

not to be missed. a real glimpse into the tragedy of apartheid.

Michele E

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2016

This tour really should be required for all tourists -- highly informative and non-polemical. After an intial stop in District 6 for a brief history lesson, we visited the District 6 Museum -- a conceptually amazing museum, very informative and moving, full of personal testimonies of former District 6 residents. Then we were off to visit 3 townships: walking the streets, meeting the people, two home visits and a stop at a beer hall for lack of a better phrase. The tour was conducted by veteran guides who live in the townships, have lived through Apartheid, and who know their history inside and out. Followed by free time for lunch at the V and A waterfront and a tour of Robben Island. You really must take the day to take this tour!

Barbara M

5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2016

The tour of the island, especially with the guide who was a former prisoner was excellent. The sound on the video on the boat going out to Robben Island was not loud enough. The boat operators should fix this.

Rhonda W

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2016

Very informative tour.

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