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  statue at Sun City

Sun City
South Africa's Playground
September 9, 2006 - September 11, 2006

Sun City is a leisure resort where we had a chance to just kick back and enjoy a care-free vacation.

Things I Really Enjoyed

Things That Disappointed Me

Trip Report

An Early Start - Really Early!

To get to Sun City, Traci and I had a two-hour flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg followed by a two-hour ride on the Magic Bus from Johannesburg to Sun City. Our airport shuttle driver picked us up at 3:50 AM (25 minutes earlier than scheduled) and had us at the Cape Town airport by 4:20 AM. The airport wasn't even open for business at that time of the morning. Anyway, our 6 AM flight left on time and by 8:15 AM, we were at the Magic Bus counter in Johannesburg in hopes of catching the 9 AM bus to Sun City. Unfortunately, the man at the counter informed us that there was no 9 AM departure that day. The next one wasn't scheduled to leave until noon. This was no big deal to us, but the man at the counter seemed very concerned. He was very apologetic and then began making phone calls to see if he could get us to Sun City any earlier. He did manage to get our departure time moved up by 40 minutes. I appreciated his effort.

The Magic Bus is not actually a bus. Instead, it is a comfortable shuttle van. Besides Traci and me, there were only four other passengers - an older American couple and two Mexican men. The two-hour ride was on a two-lane highway through dry bush lands and rural communities. When we finally arrived at our hotel in Sun City, we had to wait for another hour or so for our room to become available.

Sun City

Bellmen playing drums

Welcome to Sun City. Pa rum pa pum pum.

Sun City is big leisure resort located in an extinct volcano crater. The resort promotes the theme of a fictional lost city. It has plenty of activities to keep visitors entertained: casinos, night clubs, game rooms, water sports, restaurants, swimming pools, a man-made beach, shows, spas, and boat rides. There is a crocodile farm located on the premises that houses more than 3000 crocs. Adjacent to Sun City is Pilanesberg National Park where safaris are offered. Pilanesberg is one of the largest national parks in South Africa.

The resort has four hotels ranging from the luxurious Palace of the Lost City Hotel to the family-oriented, economy lodging of the Sun City Cabanas. There is a complimentary 24-hour shuttle bus service that provides visitors with transportation between the hotels but Traci and I quickly realized that the hotels are within a short walk of each other. Therefore, we did not use the shuttle after the first day.

We stayed in a nice, comfortable room at the Sun City Cabanas. The Sun City Cabanas are motel-like buildings that are located on the banks of a lake. In addition, there is a gigantic swimming pool behind the registration building and plenty of umbrella chairs on the lawn surrounding it. We saw many children during our stay due to the kids program offered at the resort. The Cabanas also caters to corporate events. Coincidently, we saw representatives from Traci's company setting up for some type of event while we were waiting in the lobby for our room to become available.

The main dining room is located at the registration building. It is a pavilion that gives you an open air feeling. The only meal we ate here was breakfast. It was included with our stay. The food was good but I couldn't get over all the birds. They seemed to know when breakfast time was almost over and would begin to flock the place. They were on and under the chairs and tables. On our last day, I even saw a bird land at the buffet table and start eating out of the cereal bins. I was done with this place after I saw that.

Our stay at Sun City was the relaxation portion of our vacation. Our first ten days in South Africa were full of 6 AM wake-up calls, sightseeing tours, and late evenings. By the time Traci and I were finally checked into our room at the Cabanas, the only thing we managed to do was to crawl into the bed and sleep the afternoon away. We later got up to grab a bite to eat at a pizza shop in the Sun City Welcome Center and then called it a night.

Sun City lived up to its name as far as the weather was concerned. This was the first place we visited in South Africa that was warm enough for us to wear shorts. But, even this town was not exempt from the typical 20-30 degree evening temperature drop that had us changing into long pants and a light jacket.

Sun City Cabanas
view from our room

view from the balcony

 

lake area

plenty to do at the lake

 

swimming pool

half of the gigantic swimming pool

exotic bird

exotic birds roam the grounds

We used our second day to do the bulk of our exploration. I've heard Sun City referred to as South Africa's answer to Las Vegas. I would not go as far as to make that assertion because the two places have their own distinctive vibe. While they both have casinos, Sun City is smaller, less glitzy, and more family-oriented than Las Vegas. It reminds me of some of the all-inclusive Caribbean resorts at which I've stayed - minus the ocean. But make no mistake; Sun City is not an all-inclusive resort. I had to carry my wallet to pay for the activities, meals, and show.

Sneaking In The Palace

The Palace of the Lost City Hotel is the most luxurious of the four Sun City hotels. Rooms here start at $700 per night and go as high as $5000 per night. People like Michael Jackson stay here when they are in town. The staff certainly makes you feel like a second class citizen if you are not staying there. Traci and I wanted to take a look inside this ornate establishment but when the man at the door looked at our cards and saw we were staying at the Cabanas, we were denied entry into The Palace. He told us we could sign up for a tour which costs approximately $8 per person or we could pay him half price under the table to get in. We declined and headed off to explore the beautiful pathways and fountains outside the hotel. At least those were free. One thing that surprised me during our walk was the rooms I saw on the ground floor that had their curtains open looked pretty much the same as our room in the Cabanas. Anyway, we continued to walk the paths and through open corridors. Eventually, we somehow ended up inside The Palace. The attention to detail of the decor, furniture, artwork, and sculptures was incredible. We continued to marvel at the structures inside this place until we arrived at the lobby. We didn't want to push our luck too much in case the man at the door happened to turn around and recognize us. We wanted to explore other parts of The Palace grounds but we noticed some of these areas had employees who were checking ID cards. So, we headed out of The Palace to have a look around in other hotels in Sun City. These were open to the public; however, none of them came close the quality of The Palace.

the Palace Hotel?

The Palace of the Lost City Hotel

 

dining room in the Palace Hotel?

elegant Palace of the Lost City Hotel dining room

 

chairs in the Palace Hotel?

even the chairs are works of art

 

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