From the 17th to the 20th centuries, Robben Island served as a place of banishment, isolation and imprisonment. Today it is a World Heritage Site and museum, a poignant reminder to the newly democratic South Africa of the price paid for freedom. Visitors to Cape Town can take a boat ride out to the island, where an extensive tour of the prison, where Nelson Mandela was held, offers insight into the Apartheid era of South Africa. Guides are often ex-political prisoners who are happy to share their own tales of imprisonment and their version of life on the island. Visitors can also explore the natural haven of the island, as it is home to a variety of wildlife and indigenous foliage.