One of the country’s top tourist attractions, Sun City, was opened in 1979 in one of the apartheid regime’s independent homelands, Bophuthatswana. A luxury casino resort within two hours drive of Johannesburg, it was an immediate attraction for South Africans as gambling was outlawed in the republic.
Since the advent of democracy in South Africa, a number of casino properties have opened far closer to the country’s big cities, and Sun City has had to refocus. It now successfully markets itself as an all-round family getaway with sports and recreation facilities for all ages, and a multipurpose conference venue.
The resort, which is situated close to Rustenburg in the bowl of an extinct volcanic crater and surrounded by the lush peaks of the Pilanesberg, has four hotels – Sun City Hotel, Cascades Hotel, The Cabanas and, at the top of the rung, the spectacular Palace of the Lost City, which is themed on the mythical existence of a lost civilisation. There is also a time-share self-catering facility.
Two 18-hole golf courses, the Gary Player Country Club and the Lost City Golf Course, are internationally renowned and splashed across television screens in November each year when top golfing names come to play in the Nedbank Golf Challenge. Similarly, the Superbowl has played host to world-renowned musicians and artists.
The Valley of the Waves is a water park with a palm-fringed “beach” and a wave pool where hydraulic mechanisms produce waves up to 1,8 metres high. Other rides include the heart-stopping Temple of Courage, with a 17-metre drop, or the Tarantula and Scorpion body slides. The Entertainment Centre has gaming and entertainment amenities, restaurants, fast-food outlets, shopping and a games arcade for kids.
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Adjacent to Sun City is the 55000-hectare “Big Five” Pilanesberg National Game Park. Day and night game-viewing drives as well as hikes can be booked from the resort.
The Gary Player Health Spa is the place to try a Vichy shower or hydrotherapy.
The Botanical Garden Trails lead into a rain forest, baobab forest as well as a jacaranda and tropical forest, all of which contain rare plant varieties.
An early morning hot air balloon ride offers a full spectrum view of the Pilanesberg.
Opportunities to sample adventure activities are plentiful at Sun City – parasailing, jet skiing, zip-sliding, quad-biking, archery and clay-target shooting are just a few.
For those who wish to try their luck at the gaming tables, there is American Roulette, Blackjack, Punto Banco and Stud Poker.