The Waterberg and Sun City.
7 day itinerary.
Prices from GBP £ 562 US$ 866 ZAR 10,122 EUR 776 pp*
Surrounded by the rugged African bushveld, in the heart of an ancient volcano, Sun City is an internationally acclaimed resort, with a unique heartbeat of its own.
Sun City has been likened to Las Vegas by many people. Although a somewhat scaled-down version, it is easy to see where the comparison came from ... it truly is a mini Vegas in South Africa!
Sun City offers a choice of 4 unique hotels to suit every taste, style and budget. Whether it's romance, pure luxury or family fun, you will find it in one of the hotels here.
The Palace of the Lost City, overlooking the Sun City complex and making an imposing outline against the sky, is without a doubt the most luxurious hotel in Sun City. A prestigious member of the 'Leading Hotels of the World', the Palace offers royal hospitality.
The most relaxed and family-friendly of the Sun City hotels, The Cabanas opens onto lush gardens. Guests can relax around the main pool in the gardens, and younger children can enjoy the safety of the shallow paddling pool. The gardens also lead down to the Sun City Lake which is a watersport playground for all ages. Lush gardens, tropical birds and water features give The Cascades its sophistication and elegance, and the Sun City Hotel combines magical fantasy with glamorous style.
But it is not just about the luxury of the hotels. Casinos, slot machines, world-class golf courses, beaches and wave machines, kids clubs, a trembling earthquake bridge... these all play their own part in making Sun City one of the top holiday destinations in South Africa today.
Surrounding Sun City is also the Pilanesberg National Park, an attractive 50,000 hectare malaria-free Big 5 Park which is centred around an extinct volcano crater. The Park's proximity to Sun City makes this an excellent day trip from the resort.
Sun City is only a 2 hour drive away from Johannesburg, which does make it an ideal place to spend the last 2 nights of a holiday prior to flying home from Johannesburg's International Airport. It doesn't just attract overseas tourists, though. The complex is also an extremely popular weekend destination for many South Africans, especially those who live in Johannesburg.
Based on the classic 1885 novel 'King Solomon's Mines' by English novelist Sir Henry Rider Haggard, Sun City attempts to recreate the romantic adventure tale through a lost African land. The result is not dissimilar to a Hollywood film set.
Mysterious and imposing statues of ancient worship are carved into the rocks, the 'earthquake' troubled Bridge of Time is lined with huge stone elephant statues looking down from their pedestals, and there are 'ruins' set in jungle-like surroundings.
The focal point of the Lost City is the Palace Hotel. Overlooking the rest of the Sun City resort, and set in 25 hectares of botanical gardens complete with waterfalls, lakes and peaceful walks, the Palace is probably the most opulent hotel in the world.
Unless you are staying there, access to the Palace is limited to a guided tour, which can be booked from the Welcome Centre at the Sun City Entertainment Centre. There are several tours a day, which takes you around the Palace (but not into any bedrooms), and up to the very top of one of the towers, giving great views over the entire Sun City complex.
From the moment you enter The Palace, you will be awe-struck at the extravagance. The lobby has a painted ceiling that the Sistine Chapel would be envious of, and huge crystal chandeliers hang from the high and ornate dining room ceilings.
A beach in the middle of South Africa? Yes, it is true.
The Valley of the Waves is hugely popular - a totally manufactured beach scene, complete with sand, palm trees, sun loungers and parasols, and a wave machine and water slide for the more adventurous.
The wave machine is fantastic fun. A siren sounds, and everybody rushes into the water in anticipation. After what seems an age, the fountains at the end explode into life, and water gushes into the 'sea'. An ominous rumbling noise indicates that the wave is about to begin, and sure enough, a wave manufactures itself and comes tumbling towards you. The first one is tame, but by the last one you are surfing into the shoreline on a wave that Hawaii would be proud of.
In addition, Waterworld, on the shores of the Sun City Lake, provides a full range of water sports from parasailing, jet skiing, pedal boats, wake boards, bumper boats and water-skiing.
Sun City is a magical wonderland for children of all ages. Children from 6 weeks to 16 years will always find something do here, and the wide variety of activities will keep them thoroughly entertained.
Parents of young children can relax in the knowledge that there is a fully supervised creche for babies and toddlers with an activities centre. For the slightly older children, Carnival World has many activities, including Playstation World, Barbie World, the Magic Jungle, the Magic Factory and the Magic Castle.
In addition to all this, Kamp Kwena offers a daily supervised programme with a host of activities for children including swimming, pony rides, magic performances, outdoor and indoor games. There is also a big selection of books, puzzles, games, toys, cartoon network channel, as well as a playground that includes a lovely tree house.
There is a Wildlife and Animal World Interaction Centre where you can get to know the animals better, or Kwena Gardens Crocodile Farm is a reptile park that is home to the giant Nile crocodiles. You can even get to know the elephants at the Elephant Interaction Centre. There are also visits to Animal World, the Exotic Bird Aviary and the Birds of Prey Centre.
Other activities also include the games arcade with its kids cinema, 10 pin bowling and go-kart racing. Take a ride on the Stimela Kids Stream Train or skate on the Olympic sized ice-rink at the Ice Station.
The cost of entry for a day visitor is R50 per person (subject to change).
For day visitors, it costs extra to go into the Valley of the Waves (entry is free if you are staying at one of the hotels however) - current costs are as follows :
Adults (13 years and older) - R120 per person
Children (4 years up to and including 12 years) - R70 per child
Children (3 years and younger) - Free
Senior Citizens (60 year and older) - R60 per person
Sun City has 2 world-class golf courses and provides excellent golfing facilities and the finest fairways.
The Gary Player Country Club is acknowledged as a difficult and demanding course. Since 1981 it has been home to the Nedbank Million Dollar Golf Challenge. The course requires stamina and accuracy from players.
The comparatively flat nature of the golf course is misleading - water hazards, cunningly sited bunkers and pins hidden away on kidney shaped greens makes up for the lack of gradient. Off the back markers the course measures over 7,000 metres which makes it one of the longest in the world.
A distinguishing feature of the course is its greens complexes, with strategically placed bunkers, swales and mounds that protect the super slick clover shaped greens.
A feature hole? Well, they're all good at the Gary Player Country Club, but for risk and reward the stand-out is the 9th. Play this par 5 from the forward tees and then have a go for the island green with your second and thrill to the challenge of this superb test of golf.
Golfers are astounded by the breathtaking beauty of the par 72 Lost City Golf course. The rich green fairways give a dramatic contrast to the bushveld backdrop and the barren waste bunkers are a special feature of this intriguing course.
The Lost City Golf Course is flexible - you can play off the forward tee for a course length of 5,953 metres, or you can extend to 6,983 metres if you play off the back tee.
The most hazardous area of the Lost City Golf Course is the 13th hole. Inhabiting the water hazard are 38 crocodiles, some of them nearly 2 metres long. The unusual water hazard is just one of the features that make the Lost City Golf Course exciting and interesting to play. No effort was spared to make the course a masterpiece.
Playing the back 9 is like going on a golf safari. It has often been noted that the game is more exciting when played downhill and this is certainly true here!
On the whole, a round at Lost City is an experience which one will not easily forget.
Guest Rating: 3.0 / 5.0 based on 6 ratings
The Cabanas has 380 rooms and guests can choose between standard and luxury rooms. All rooms are fully air-conditioned and equipped with quality flat screen TVs with selected DSTV channels, tea and coffee making facilities and electronic safes and telephones.
Guest Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 based on 1 ratings
The luxury of the Sun City Hotel's 340 air-conditioned rooms and suites will please every visitor here.Choose from luxury standard or superior rooms, some with sleeper couches which are ideal for families with young children, or stay in a Luxury Suite, which boasts a separate lounge area and a private balcony with sun loungers.
Guest Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 based on 8 ratings
Guests can choose from standard or superior luxury rooms, some of which have balconies with views over the Sun City resort, or sleeper couches for families.The larger suites offer facilities such as jacuzzi baths, dining rooms for 8 people, balconies, private pools and private gardens.
Guest Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 based on 10 ratings
The Palace has 338 rooms in total, inclusive of 4 deluxe suites. The luxury rooms all have marble topped vanities in the en-suite bathroom, and some have a fold out sleeper couch, making these ideal for families with young children.