February 19, 2013

South Africa: See Africa’s Big 5 from Sun City resort!

BRELL. That’s how you remember which lucky animals have made the official “Big 5” list – and it’s not the ones you’d think!

Rhino, Sun City

The rhino was the only representative of the Big 5 I saw in this reserve

Buffalo, rhino, elephant, leopard and lion. No giraffe?! No hippo or cheetah?! No zebra, we all shriek? When you visit Africa you might have to see their five and raise them a few.

Zebra, Pilanesberg

But I reckon the zebra should be on the list!

Palace of the Lost City

Breakfast under the towering pillars at the Palace of the Lost City

About two and a half hours drive from Johannesburg is the sprawling and exciting Sun City resort. It encompasses four hotels, including two five-star properties, a huge water park, two world class golf courses and is very near two safari parks to see the famous animals of Africa.

Around the hotels you’ll see monkeys and baboons – most often being chased away so they don’t steal the restaurant food! They’re pests actually, but make for great photos if you can keep your distance.

Each hotel provides a different experience

Kids will love the water park and activities at the Palace of the Lost City. This is one of the most advanced water parks in the world set around a large lagoon, fringed by a sandy beach and dotted with palm trees. There are slides and a lazy river and 1.8 high metre waves roar every 90 seconds.

The casino is at the four-star Sun City Hotel which also offers easy access to the facilities at the others, like the water park and the Gary Player golf course.

Gary Player golf course, Sun City

We were warned to watch for crocs on this Gary Player course

The Cascades Hotel has three swimming pools, including one exclusively for children and another that is heated. You’ll find tropical birds in the lush grounds and they have a small private beach.

Cascades, Sun City, South Africa

The pool at Cascades, Sun City

The Cabanas is great for young families who are looking for plenty of activities to keep their little ones amused. There’s mini golf, an animal world and lots of themed play grounds, plus an activity centre for teens who want to hang out away from their parents.

But I was most excited about seeing the wildlife

The Pilanesberg Game Reserve is just outside Sun City spread over 55,000 hectares. We took a guided tour (you can drive your own car around the 200km of roads). It’s wonderful and I couldn’t stop snapping photos of rhino, hippos, zebra and antelope. Alas I didn’t see a lion or leopard, but came home with a full memory card anyway!

Giraffe, Pilanesberg

Take your own car or an open-top tour through Pilanesberg safari park

baby meerkats

I’m adding this pic of baby meerkats playing purely for the cute value!

I flew South African Airways to Johannesberg and transferred to Sun City by coach – just over 2 hours away.

About Megan Singleton

Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!

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