After Sao Paolo, we headed to Sun City, South Africa. It was our longest travel day thus far. We had an 8.5 hour flight followed by 2.5 hour car-ride. We knew there would be a slight wait before check-in, but didn’t anticipate a 4 hour wait. The Palace of the Lost City was oversold since it was a holiday and there was some confusion over our room. We had booked two rooms (one of the adults and one for the kids) but we ended up in a junior suite. Although, we were sharing one room it was a large room and we had plenty of space, butler service, and a large bathtub. The butler came around each evening to offer beverages and canapes. And that meant, South African Sparkling wine for the adults.
Sun City can be referred to as the South African Las Vegas. It is located in the middle of nowhere (nearly three hours north of Johannesburg). It has several hotels/casinos in the complex; we stayed at Palace of the Lost City. There are several entertainment and dining options (bowling alley, theatre, bumper cars, adventure fun). The decor is very opulent and dramatic- think about the safari version of Caesars or the Bellagio. Although there was very little greenery surrounding the resort, the interior was full of lush forests, massive gardens, and waterfalls, and eye-popping views. Our room had beautiful fresh african flowers replaced daily. Something that Vegas is lacking– animals in the wild! There were a variety of birds, monkeys, and baboons! If you are a cinema buff, you will recall that Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler’s “Blended” was filmed at the Palace of the Lost City. However, I would recommend you look at Trip Advisor for the pictures rather than watch the movie.
The Palace of the Lost City is set on the highest point in Sun City which Stephen and Jeni discovered during an afternoon run. It’s over the top theme was inspired by the ancient myth of a lost African Kingdom. The design as an African Palace was meticulously carried out throughout the property from the entrance to the walkpaths. Massive wooden doors, arches, and beams were throughout the hotel. Everytime you turned your head, you noticed a large mosaic on the ceiling or wall. The hotel has grand proportions and dominating towers decorating the skyline.
Our first full day was Monday and was still part of a holiday weekend so we opted to wait on the water park. We had slept pretty late (barely making it to breakfast in time) and were ready to see the different hotel properties. Heritage Day (September 24th) is a day to celebrate the culture and diversity of South Africa and the park was packed on Sunday and busier than normal on Monday. We first went up the King Tower for impressive views. When visiting the Palace of the Lost City, you can take an elevator and short staircase to the King’s Tower which offers great views of the grounds. Next, we found a maze and had some family competition. E beat us soundly.
Our main reason for visiting Sun City? Zipline 2000 AKA “The Original Extreme Zip Slide”. Yes, we traveled to Sun City to experience the fastest zipline in the world! It lost its top billet (to a zipline in Alaska) after we had already decided to visit Sun City- so we have ridden on the second fastest zipline in the world. E & S are adventure ride junkies (remember parasailing in Lima); so this was family fun. The zipline was located on Sun City property and was a short jeep ride to the top. Somehow, we were the only 4 during our time slot. We are used to ziplining operations with several platforms and traversing under a jungle canopy. This zipline is different. It was straight down for about 2 km. Instead of traveling in the “seated” position, you are strapped into a “flying prone” position complete with safety goggles and a tail fin! Getting into the safety harness was entertaining to watch. It’s a 3-2-1 countdown and then blast off! Supposedly average speeds of 74 mph can be gained. It was a definitely a flying sensation! All 4 of us wanted a second run!
After ziplining, we were craving more adventure; so we headed to the crocodile feeding. Some interesting crocodile facts: 1) they can jump in water only (not on land); 2) they can hold their breath for three hours; 3) the temperature eggs are maintained at determine the sex; 4) they continue to grow in mass and length through adulthood; 5) bigger crocodiles will eat smaller crocodiles; 6) my next job will NOT be working at the crocodile sanctuary. I was a bit terrified that someone would need a tourniquet during the feeding.
Tuesday proved to be perfect for the waterpark! The waterpark included a wave pool, lazy river, 3 body slides, and 3 raft rides (and a kiddie water park). There was one body slide that dropped you into the ride (imagine standing in a tube and the bottom disappears) and then you loop into a circle; it was closed for repairs. We had a blast for several hours. The temperature was perfect for being lazy in the sand and enjoying the weather.
We had just a couple of hours on our last day to enjoy the Grand Pool before returning to Johannesburg for the night. The pool displays water fountains and sculptures and a stunning mosaic. The pool was surrounded by grass and comfy loungers with umbrellas. Of course, drinks, food, and massages were available poolside.
We did not explore the nearby Pilanesberg National Park since we have a Kenya safari in a couple of weeks. While we enjoyed our time at Sun City and the staff at Palace of Lost City was superb, I don’t think we will return to Sun City for another visit; there are too many places to explore!