11 February 2012

Sun City - Fun and Games Extravaganza!



Sun City - the name conjures up images of loads of fun in the famous South African sun! It is indeed a huge complex with massive grounds and 4 hotels, The Palace, The Sun Hotel, The Cascades and the Cabanas. The Vacation Club is Timeshare and takes up a fair proportion of the very large and beautifully laid out grounds. The Palace Hotel is 5*, opulent and ostentatious. Tours were allowed previously but no longer as the high paying guests prefer their privacy from gaping plebs like us, who can't afford the astronomical prices to stay in the hotel.

However, it's a great vacation spot wherever you stay and there is plenty to do - so much so that we did not get to see/do everything in the 4 nights we spent at the Vacation Club. A lovely 3 bed unit gave us plenty of space and we had great neighbours - one from North West Province and Hollanders on the other side. Further down a family with 2 small children resided and entertained us when dad took out the soccer balls every evening. The baby was barely walking and the little boy, who obviously loves his soccer, kicked a fair distance and used both feet! Perhaps I should have got his autograph? He could be the next generation, David Beckham?

It can be hot and very humid at Sun City. The air-conditioners creak and groan and are so loud as to defy sleep - they appear about 30 years old. Modern air-cons are so quiet that one tends to forget to switch them off! But that's in the Vacation Club - perhaps the hotels have quieter ones.

We are not golfers but did enjoy the beautiful scenery and surroundings of both the Lost City Golf Course and the Gary Player Golf Course. It's enough to make one want to take up golf - playing on such beautiful courses can only be a pleasure. The concierge challenged me to return and take up golf - fat chance!! But it could mean some weight loss so maybe I must consider the challenge.....who knows! There are jogging trails at both golf courses so you can get in some exercise without hitting a tiny white ball.


 

We walked around the Lost City Golf course on the day they were closed so we did not have to dodge any golf balls - it is really beautiful yet is surpassed by the Gary Player course (see picture) which we did not have time to walk around. Expensive to play a round but well worth it, I would imagine if you are an avid golfer!

The gardens at Sun City are a delight and there are various walks through gardens that could feature in Garden and Home! No expense has been spared and there are many water features, streams, lakes etc.  Various paths and trails are laid out, some more strenuous than others, but these are marked as such.



Once you arrive, you are not allowed to move your car unless you are going out of the complex. The buses and taxi's run regularly and are all free of charge. It's an excellent way of keeping traffic to a minimum and yet transporting guests to whichever place they wish to go.

There are many activities to choose from and it is impossible to do them all in a few days - however, everybody has different needs and preferences so choose either to lie at the pools, gamble the night away, play some golf, do some walking, enjoy the water-sports, eat yourself silly at the many restaurants etc etc!


 We did a tour of the Crocodile Farm which was exceptionally interesting. I had never realised that huge, mean crocs would come like babies when called for food! It was a total eye-opener. This farm has thousands of crocodiles (not all in this area) and they are farmed for their skins. The guide was very informative although he tended to address one side of the audience so we could not always hear everything that was being said. The crocs vary in size from babies to huge monsters, many years old. Although the staff enter the one particular pen and feed the crocs by hand, it would not be something to attempt in the wild. So fierce looking, those teeth are still giving me nightmares! It's amazing how silent all wild animals are and the crocs glide through the water with hardly a ripple to advertise their presence in the water. Crocs are cold-blooded so they can only control their body temperature by basking in the sun on cold days, opening their mouths for the wind to cool them down, lying in the shade on hot days and lying very still. This makes them appear very lethargic and lazy but don't go too close - you will see how fast they can react when required! If you are ever in a position of being attacked by a croc - stab the eyes and nostrils.
Don't do a practice run, it could be fatal. 


The Butterfly area was rather disappointing as the rain had apparently killed many of the butterflies a few nights before we visited. The guide does explain the various stages of their life cycle and there were some butterflies around but not many.



Pilansberg National Park has an entrance just past the Vacation Club so it is easily accessible for a day's outing and is well worth the trip. See my Blog on Pilansberg for more details  We thoroughly enjoyed our day as did our Dutch neighbours who were lucky enough to see baby elephants whilst we only saw one very big lone bull! The Park has the Big 5 - get up early for the best game sightings. Game drives are very popular from Sun City and the game vehicles passed us every night coming back from their sunset drives. Whilst we preferred to do our own drive, the game vehicles are much higher and you have the added information given to you by the rangers. Well worth the trip.


There are 2 aviaries at Sun City plus a predator bird display which we did not get to see. The birds were being fed when we walked into the one aviary so they were all bustling about and jostling for the tastiest morsels of fruit.


Gambling is not for me - as somebody who could withstand the temptation in Las Vegas with its many huge gambling halls, Sun City was never going to tempt me! However, there are many who enjoy a flutter or two, or three or.....the really big players who get free accommodation as they play regularly for such high stakes.  We did see some players on the 02c machines - that could mean a long night before any winnings materialise!

 

Sun City does have something for everyone whether it's just lazing at the various pools, golfing, gambling, taking in a night time show or game viewing. There are plenty of restaurants in the various hotels and we enjoyed Santorini in the Cascades - with a lovely blue and white Greek theme, heavenly tapas and attentive service, it was a good choice and appeared the busiest of them all excluding the Buffet at the Sun Hotel where there were hundreds of Chinese tourists. Some of the restaurants are outsourced and some are run by the hotels themselves.


The Valley of the Waves is another Sun City innovation - a beach in the middle of nowhere with continual waves to bounce you around! There are other rides to go on at Water World - again no time to try everything in just 3 days/4 nights.


Indeed, fun in the Sun!!

© Judelle Drake

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