Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Robben Island is a barren spot of land surrounded by rough, shark-infested waters that was run as a penal colony for most of its 400-year history, and is probably most known for Nelson Mandela's 18-year imprisonment there. However, in 1997, the prison was transformed by a decision to turn it into a museum. Subsequently, the site was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lending it a whole other layer of importance. Robben Island then became a reclaimed symbol for South Africans; whereas before the island and its prison stood for corruption and apartheid, now Robben Island could stand as a monument and testament to the triumph of goodness and human spirit. Tours can be reserved in advance and begin with a ferry ride from the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. The tour apparently lasts for around four hours and includes a guided tour through the prison buildings and entire island via bus. Participants in the tours have come back and commented on the particularly interesting perspective that the island's history provides as it transitioned from a leper colony to a penal colony to a museum.