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Escorted Rail Tours to Robben Island

Former South African President and anti-apartheid campaigner Nelson Mandela spent eighteen years in the prison at Robben Island on charges of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government. Whilst now inextricably linked with the story of the struggle for democracy in South Africa, a tour of Robben Island - now a museum - gives visitors a fascinating and moving insight into the island's three hundred year history.

Robben Island, situated in Cape Town's Table Bay, was first used as a place of incarceration by Dutch Settlers at the end of the seventeenth century. 'Robben' is the Dutch word for 'seal'; a reference to the many Fur seal colonies that inhabit the bay. Whilst the island has always served the purpose of a prison, especially for political prisoners, it has also at various times been used as a quarantine station, a hospital for leprosy sufferers, an asylum for the insane and, during the Second World War, a coastal defence and training station occupied by the army and the navy.

Robben Island's duty as a prison ended in 1996, and the following year it was declared a National Monument. In 1999 the island was granted UNESCO World Heritage site status. Today Robben Island is both a living museum dedicated to the promotion of equality and human rights, and a poignant testimony to those who fought for democracy.

There are 3 tours matching Robben Island

Victoria Falls, Cape Town and the Garden Route

Marvel at the natural wonders of southern Africa on this incredible adventure. Join the sumptuous Pride of Africa for a truly elegant journey in luxurious air-conditioned suites with 5-Star service. Later, enjoy a safari in Botswana and bask in the majesty of Victoria Falls.

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2018Oct

17 days from £6,595 pp

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South African Adventure

Fascinating wildlife is waiting to be discovered on this South African rail adventure on the Pride of Africa - one of the world's great luxury trains. Our voyage of discovery takes us through South Africa's most well-known game parks and ends with four nights in the cosmopolitan city of Cape Town.

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2018MayOctNov

17 days from £8,390 pp

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Dar Es Salaam, Victoria Falls & The Pride of Africa

Explore the magnificent attractions spanning Africa on this incredible adventure aboard the luxurious, 5-Star Pride of Africa train. Journey across lush wildernesses and dusty desert plains, taking in natural wonders, rare creatures and spending time in cosmopolitan cities.

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2018Jan

22 days from £14,445 pp

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Leper Church and Graveyard

Between 1846 and 1931 Robben Island was used to hospitalise patients with the wasting disease leprosy. The island was chosen both for its isolation since leprosy is contagious, and in the belief that island life would be 'healthy' for the patients.

Limestone Quarry

Limestone for use as a building material and in whitewash was quarried on Robben Island by prisoners using only picks and shovels in the oppressive glare and heat of the South African sun.

Robben Island Lighthouse

Despite the establishment of the first rudimentary 'lighthouse' - a maintained fire lit on the island's highest point - back in 1657, shipwrecks were a fairly common occurrence in Table Bay. Robben Island's permanent lighthouse was built on Minto Hill in 1865 and stands eighteen metres high. A fog horn was added in 1925, and in 1938 the lighthouse was equipped with its own self-contained electricity generator.

World War II Gun Emplacements

Robben Island played a strategic role in the defence of Cape Town in the Second World War and was equipped with gun emplacements for batteries of six-inch and nine-inch artillery.

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