Those who have spent time in Green Point, a vibrant suburb of Cape Town, have described it as having a similar atmosphere to Soho in London. No doubt an accurate comparison, as Green Point is a forward-looking, go-getting, melting-pot of people from all walks of life with various interests and hobbies. Green Point is ideally located for the tourist seeking to experience everything beautiful and interesting Cape Town has to offer. A few minutes’ drive through the city centre will lead you to Table Mountain, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Bustling Long Street will entertain clubbers, restaurant patrons and pub-crawlers, while Kloof Street will present visitors with numerous cosy coffee bars and cafés dotted along the way.
The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront
Green Point is also ideally located nearby the Green Point Stadium where sporting events and music concerts are held throughout the year. Within walking distance from the stadium, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront offers plenty of shopping opportunities, attractions and activities. H&M’s South African flagship store opened its doors towards the end of 2015. The V&A Waterfront is certainly a delight to both tourists and locals alike, and it’s advisable to linger a few hours to experience all the entertainment and attractions the harbour has to offer.
After spending your cash and perhaps enjoying lunch at one of the Waterfront’s mountain-facing restaurants, why not consider exploring Table Bay by means of a scenic helicopter tour? The most famous landmark is Robben Island where South Africa’s former president Nelson Mandela was imprisoned all those years.
Our Robben Island Tour is the only helicopter tour that flies visitors around the island! It showcases the epic beauty of the area by heading directly to the southern tip of Robben Island and returning to the the V&A Waterfront along the picturesque Blouberg coastline. The view of Table Mountain is simply spectacular.
The History of Robben Island
Robben Island is one of South Africa’s most important historic and natural sites. Many years ago, when the Dutch first set foot on dry land and occupied the Cape of Good Hope, Robben Island was home to thousands of seals, penguins, tortoises and other sea mammals. In the early spring, whales could also be seen enjoying the waters around the island. Visiting Robben Island presents visitors with opportunities not only to learn about South African history and politics, but also to observe the island’s unique fauna and flora. Birders will be impressed by the 74 species of birds that have made the island their home. In 1991, Robben Island was included in the SA Natural Heritage Programme, and the northern part of the island was declared a bird sanctuary. Other animals to keep an eye open for are rabbits, buck, moles and snakes.
Robben Island – the Imprisonment of Anti-Apartheid Activists
Robben Island wasn’t always used as a prison. During the 1800s, the mentally and chronically ill as well as lepers were sent to live there, since it was far removed from society. When South Africa became involved in World War II, the island served as a training and defence station. It was only after 1961 that Robben Island became a prison, and from then onwards, anyone who challenged the political system of the National Party was sent there as a political prisoner to work at the limestone quarry.
Prisoners were treated harshly, were often beaten, and had to endure poor living conditions. One of the most internationally recognised prisoners was our first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela. He arrived at Robben Island in 1964 and spent 18 years on the island with fellow anti-apartheid activists. He was confined to a small cell, had no bed to sleep on, and had to use a bucket toilet. He was allowed one visitor per year and was permitted to write and receive one letter every six months. Even though he and the other prisoners had to endure this type of treatment, their spirits never waned. In February 1990, the National Party gave in to internal and external pressure and released Nelson Mandela. Through hard struggle and leadership, he paved the way to a new democracy in South Africa. Sadly, he passed away in 2013.
Even though visiting Robben Island might conjure images of sadness and oppression, one should rather view the island as a symbol of hope and freedom.
Bell 206 JetRanger
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