Published: December 16th 2011December 11th 2011 Video Playlist:
1: Slide at wave pool
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Sun City is a resort located about a 2 hour drive from Pretoria, South Africa. It was originally built by a South African developer named Sol Kerzner (same guy that built the Atlantis resort in Nassau, Bahamas) in 1979, and it's still a very popular destination for locals looking for a gambling getaway, or some fun for the family. The entire resort is absolutely HUGE and is made up of 4 hotels, a wavepool, a manmade lake where you can jetski, parasail or waterski, a crocodile sanctuary, and two golf courses just to name a few of the attractions. I picked up my rental car on Friday afternoon and got to the resort around 430. The hotel I ended up staying at was the Sun City Main Hotel but there is also the Cabanas and the Cascades Hotel. The crowning jewel, however, is the Palace of the Lost City Hotel, which unfortunately was booked that weekend.
The adventure started before I'd even checked in, mostly because they couldn't find my reservation. While I was standing in line, however, a guy started chatting to me and trying to make small talk. I was starving, the staff were totally disorganized and I
really wasn't in the mood for chit chat but he was persistent so I gave in. His name was Judson, he looked be in his 50's or so and he was a little guy - no more than 5'3 or 5'4. He was of Indian descent but he was a 4th generation South African. He was there with his wife, who was checking in, and we hadn't even talked for 5 minutes when he insisted I meet him for a drink in the casino after I'd checked in. He'd obviously been there before because he was saying hi to everyone and sliding money into the staff's hands and pockets every chance he got. When they couldn't find my reservation he told the manager to do something for me, and it seemed to work. I initially thought he was either a drug dealer or sold amway because he wouldn't tell me what he did for work, he just kept saying "I'll tell you over a drink." It turns out he was legit (his family owned an electronics import business and a bunch of real estate). I finally told him I would go to my room, change, and meet him but he
said, "Don't change! Just drop your bags and come to the casino - I'll meet you right at the front." Ok Judson, see you soon.
I did as he said, dropped my bags and came back down. I didn't see him at the front so I wandered inside the casino and sure enough Judson found me and walked up. Well, it seemed HE made time to change because he was in a fresh pair of pants and and a crisp dress shirt. It also seemed that he was a frequent visitor to the casino because we went inside the VIP slots area and got a table by the bar. I got a beer and Judson ordered a scotch and water, just one of many to come. I asked Judson what was the occasion for him and his wife to be in Sun City and he said he was invited by the organizers of the pageant to stay the weekend. Hang on Judson, did you say pageant? Yes, he said, the Ms. South Africa beauty pageant it's on Sunday night here in the hotel. Really?! Ok, continue. He said he and his wife were frequent visitors to Sun City for
the weekend as they both like to play slots and just relax, a small getaway from Johannesberg. They had 3 kids who were all involved in the family businesses so they took care of things at home while they were away. He was a really cool guy even though he talked a lot, and he gave me his opinions and philosophies on everything including religion, family and relationships. I don't know how he did it but he managed to put back about 5 scotch and waters before I even finished 1 of them, so I decided to formulate an exit strategy before I ended up babysitting him. Before I left he insisted that I leave my contact details at the front desk because he wanted to have me over for dinner at his house in Johannesberg before I left the country. I was getting pretty tired at this point so I played some slots and went back to my room to sleep, because there was lots I wanted to do the next day.
I woke up fairly early the next day and went down for breakfast. The hotel itself was fairly nice, but the breakfast area was pretty amazing.
It had about three different buffet areas and a great view of the pool and man made lake in the back. After breakfast I went for a walk to check out the entertainment center, which was about 5 minutes away. This entertainment centre was HUGE and was attached to the Cascades Hotel. It had an office to book tours, a casino, TONS of video games and interactive rides for kids, a food court, restaurants, a conference center and a mall with a bunch of shops. As I came up to the conference center I could see this is where the pageant was being held, because they were setting up tables and the stage. The actual room was quite impressive because the walls appeared to be carved right out of rock, and there were these massive statues right in the middle.
After my stroll I went to the spa for a massage and then walked over to the waterpark, which is called the Valley of the Waves. For a waterpark that's already inside a resort, it was very impressive. It had a manmade beach and a huge pool that generated these massive waves every 90 seconds. There was also a
wavepool for kids, concession stands, a tube ride and a bunch of waterslides. It was very overcast and kind of cold that day so I only went into the wavepool for a little while, but I walked around to take pictures and some video of the one slide they call The Temple of Courage. They have these at most waterparks but it's a 17 meter slide that shoots you straight down - really fast. I was taking video of people coming down and if I'd waited one more person I would have had the following story in full HD. When you shoot down the slide, you hit the water pretty hard at the end, and I'm sure most people get a wedgie of some kind. This woman hit the water and as she sat up everyone there got a full view of her double D's. She was only wearing a t-shirt and when the water hit her it pushed her shirt right up over her head. It was weird because she either didn't care, or didn't notice because it took her about 6 or 7 seconds to realize before she finally covered up.
On the way back to my
hotel I went by the Sun City Waterworld, which was just behind my hotel. Waterworld is a man-made lake where you can do all kinds of stuff - jet ski, parasail, water ski or even rent paddle boats. Just beside that they even had a little train like Stanley Park and a petting zoo with zebra, monkeys, goats and all kinds of birds.
After that I went back to the hotel, showered, and walked down to the lobby for a shuttle to the crocodile sanctuary. I decided to go at 430 because that's their feeding time, and I'm very glad I did. I got to the sanctuary, paid my entrance, and started walking through the paths. I only walked for about 10 seconds before I saw my first croc, and I have to say it was kind of freaky being that close to something that big and potentially dangerous. The first thing I noticed is that crocodiles don't move - at ALL. Most of them were just sitting there, some with their mouths open. I saw the occasional one sliding into the water, but 99% of them were just sitting there and not moving an inch. The next thing
I noticed was the lack of real security around the croc pens. Basically all of them were in big pits and they had free reign of the entire facility, but the walls separating the people from the crocs was only a few feet high. I could imagine if this was in Canada there would be a 10 foot high, electric fence. They had some little babies that were maybe a foot long, and they had some BIG guys that were easily longer than I was tall. It took about 10 minutes to walk through and I came up to something I didn't expect - a meerkat colony. It was right near the end of the sanctuary and there were probably 20 or 30 of them wandering around and sniffing at the air. I've never seen one in real life and they were really cute! It makes me want to see that movie now, Meerkat Manor.
It was almost 430 so I walked back to the little area where the croc feeding was supposed to take place. There were about 40 people already there waiting and one of the staff started to give a little spiel. The sanctuary was divided
into two different areas - the show area where we were, and the actual crocodile farm. The crocs in the show part were there for just that - show, and the farm is where the crocs are actually harvested for the meat and also the skin. Apparently they had over 6,500 crocodiles in total, from the little babies to some that were over 100 years old and over 2000 pounds. He also explained that the reason crocs don't move much is that they're cold blooded so they have to keep as still as possible so they don't overheat. That's also the reason they sometimes open their mouths, it helps to keep them cool. The guide then opened it up to questions about the crocs, which was a mistake because there were lots of kids there and they just kept going, and going, and going. So, after about 15 minutes of questions we finally got to see feeding time. Our guide said that they recognized his voice and would start coming when he called. I thought he was joking, but as soon as he started yelling, "Come crocodiles come!" about 20 of them started swimming towards the bridge where the staff
were waiting with chicken and beef. One of the other staff members started hanging the chicken above one of the bridges and the crocodiles started jumping up and grabbing them off the hook. When they snapped it sounded like a gun going off it was so loud. Then they started throwing chicken and beef onto one of the land areas and the crocs gobbled it all up pretty quickly.
After feeding time I went back to the hotel for a shower, dinner and then I took the shuttle to the main hotel called the Palace of the Lost City. The hotel was kind of over the top, bordering on tacky, but quite impressive. It had a massive driveway leading up to it, massive statues all over the place and big vaulted ceilings everywhere. I went to one of the bars for a drink and ended up getting invited to sit with this group from Johannesburg. They worked for a marketing company who was sponsoring the pageant and they got invited for the night to stay and watch it the next day. I had a drink with them and then we all went to the nightclub, Silhouette, at the entertainment
center. When we walked up there were a bunch of teenagers outside, all about 15 or 16, and we thought we'd be babysitting all night. Turns out there's a teenager nightclub right beside the actual nightclub, a place where parents can dump their kids off while they party. The club was ok, nothing special, but the band they had was really good and played all of the usual hits. I didn't stay long because I had a tee time the next day so I was back in my room by midnight. The highlight was seeing a former Ms. South Africa from 1997, who was about 6'0 tall, dancing with a "little person", who I saw lifeguarding earlier in the day at one of the hotel swimming pools. Odd combination.
The next morning I was up early for my tee time at the Lost City Golf Course. This course was easily one of the best I've played , and it reminded me of some of the desert ones I've played in the interior of BC and in the Caribbean. I checked in and decided to get a caddy because I heard the course is quite difficult. His name was Sammy
and he was a great guy, and a fantastic caddy. Right from when I walked out of the clubhouse I knew I was going to enjoy the round. The whole course looked like it was carved right out of the mountains, it was stunning. I asked Sammy if he golfed and he said yes, but not at the moment because he broke his arm. I asked him how he did that and he said he got hit by a golf ball. When he said that I was hoping that people kept their tee shots on the fairways that day!
I won't give you a play by play on my round because you can just look at the photos and see how great the course is, but the 13th hole is definitely worth mentioning. It was a par 3 and the water hazard had about 7 or 8 crocodiles in it. I got a few photos and it was funny to see all the golf balls in there, completely untouched. I guess even the staff won't be going in there fishing for stray shots.
That's it for my Sun City adventure. I hope you enjoyed the blog, the next
one should be up shortly.
There are more photos below