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Sun City

South Africa's answer to Las Vegas

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. The resort 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 Soho Hotel offers glamorous style and the accolade of being the first hotel to be built on the resort.

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. You can either head here in your own car, or book a guided game drive from the Welcome Centre. Bush walks in the Pilanesberg Park can also be arranged (please note there is a minimum age restriction of 16 years and older), as can quad biking in the bush too!

A lovely way to see the Park is to go on an early morning hot air balloon safari. Guests are collected from their Sun City hotel and taken through the Park to rendezvous with the balloon crew. The flight is approximately an hour’s duration and on landing, sparkling wine is served. A leisurely game drive is then taken through the Park to a game lodge where breakfast is served, after which guests are returned to their hotel. Flights are early in the morning and you will need to allow for approximately 5 hours for the full experience.

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.

Sun City Attractions

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 Maze of the Lost City is constructed from artificial stone and wood, creating the illusion of an ancient archaeological discovery, and is the largest permanent maze in the Southern Hemisphere. Covering half an acre, you get to it by crossing a 100m long suspension bridge. To spur you on to find your way out, at the end is the Maze Bar offering craft beers on tap. What better motivation can there be?

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.

Beaches & Families

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 an adreneline fuelled water slide for the more adventurous.

Known as the Roaring Lagoon, 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.

The Temple of Courage promises an exhilarating adrenalin rush with a 17-metre drop down a 70-metre slide. The almost vertical slide takes riders hurtling under a bridge and splashing into a small pool. There are also 2 body slides – the Tarantula and the Scorpion, and 2 tube rides – the Viper and the Mamba.

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. 

For the more adventurous family, why not consider a bush walk. Conducted in the neighbouring private Letsatsing Park, this is a 7,000 hectare reserve with plenty of wildlife such as wildebeest, impala, sable antelope and nyala, and tonnes of birdlife. With no Big 5 animals, this is a lovely and child-friendly activity for children of all ages. Guests are collected and transferred to the Park, where they meet their qualified guide and head off on a either a morning or afternoon adventure.

Golf at Sun City

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.