An experience in Sun City, dubbed the Las Vegas of South Africa

Saturday, October 26th, 2019 00:00 |
A trip to Sun City. Photo/Harriet James

Since coming across stunning photos of Sun City in South Africa, the resort has been on my bucket list for a long time, but nothing prepared me for the marvellous memories in the place that has been dubbed the Las Vegas of South Africa, especially coming at a time it was celebrating 40 years since it opened its doors, marking a new era in entertainment and leisure. 

We arrived at Oliver Tambo International Airport at five in the evening. Our flight had experienced delays but luckily, our tour guide was present to take us to our destination. It takes exactly two hours from Johannesburg to reach Sun City and once there, we had a sumptuous dinner at Legends, one of the many restaurants in the resort.

We then checked into our rooms at the Cabanas, which is one of the four hotels in the village. The other three are Cascades, Soho Hotel and the Palace of the Lost City.

While the Palace is a five-star grand luxury, at Cascades, also of the same standard, one can enjoy secluded luxury. Soho is a four-star animated Vegas-style hotel, and Cabanas is a three-star, contemporary, island-style lodge.

We had an early morning hot air balloon ride, hence we had to sleep early, to brace the cold weather the next morning. Going for a game drive or a hot air balloon ride at Pilanesburg Game Reserve is one of the activities one can do here.

The tour group also visited Mpebatho Cultural Museum and learnt about the Tswana culture, and later on, those who could ride bikes took a village tour to see how the people live. Photo/Harriet James

Named after a Tswana chief called Pilane, the game reserve borders the establishment and here, you can watch the big five.

I had never tried a hot air balloon safari, even at The Mara, where I have been a couple of times. Thus, being in one for the first time and watching the magnificent views from the top was an incredible experience.

Next, we had a cultural tour to learn more about the Bakgatla or the Tswanas.

The resort was constructed from an independent state that was known as Bophuthatswana, hence understanding the culture of the people is imperative in understanding the history of the resort. Constructed by hotel magnate Sol Kerzner, the resort was built in the apartheid era.

Hot air balloon ride above Pilanesburg Game Reserve. Photo/Harriet James

Being an independent state meant that it could provide some of the activities that were banned in South Africa at the time such as gambling.

When the United Nations imposed a cultural boycott on South Africa to condemn apartheid, Kerzner offered incentives to performing artists to promote Sun City as a destination. The resort has hosted the likes of Elton John, Beach Boys, Cher to mention but a few. 

We had our first stop at Mpebatho Cultural Museum, where we learnt about the Bakgatla culture and later on, those who could ride bikes took a village tour to see how the people live.

I opted to go with the shuttle. The Tswana are the native people of the North West province of South Africa and south-western Botswana.

I spent the rest of my stay at the resort exploring the various activities one can engage in this destination whose tagline is ‘a world within a city’.

There are two international-standard 18-hole golf courses; the Gary Player Country Club as well as the Lost City Golf Course. There is also the Sun City Super Bowl Arena that hosts various events such as Miss World South Africa in the past.

Other things the village is known for include some beach time at Valley of Waves, casinos, nightlife, spas and shopping, though one should be careful, as stuff can be quite costly.

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