The Vaal & Sun City, South Africa

We stopped at home in The Vaal for a mere evening where we went to a brilliant local Austrian/German restaurant – Dean’s Log Inn. C tucked in to pickled eisbein (pickled pork knuckle), I went for cordon bleu chicken, and the others opted for steak. To say the portions were generous may be an understatement, I could barely finish half of mine but continued to try and persevere with it as it was so damn delicious!
Waddling on back with full bellies, we sat in the garden to watch the sun set and had a few friends over for evening drinks.

 

At 4am, C’s mother who is a ridiculously chirpy morning person, was banging on the door for us to get up. Still bleary eyed, we gulped down coffee and grabbed a quick slice of toast and scrambled eggs before piling into the cars and heading off to Sun City.

Sun City is an enormous casino/water park complex up in the mountains. It comprises of several hotels as well as the self catering villas where we were staying for a few days. The main hotel, “The Palace” is the most extravagant and expensive, built to look like an African jungle palace. Sun City has casinos, it’s own safari, and a water theme park with a man made lagoon.

I am such a big kid when it comes to water theme parks, I absolutely love them! Having searched Sun City on google images beforehand, I was pretty excited!


“The Palace” peaking above the trees.

 

Once we arrived, we headed to the complex for cocktails. The first place we stopped had a brilliant view but the most disgusting piña colada I have ever had the misfortune of drinking.

So many questions… Why was it the colour of vomited ribena? Why was it curdled? Why did it taste like cheese? What the hell did they make this frankenstine monstrosity with?! The staff were seemingly unphased when i told them it was so disgusting I could not drink it.

A bit put out, we headed on and thankfully, had no further bad experiences or rancid cocktails! We went elsewhere for one more round before heading back to the villa for dinner.

After dinner,  we checked out one of the casinos, decorated black and gold with giant coloured poker chips from floor to ceiling in various corners of the room.

We ordered drinks and sat at a table. I was hoping on gaining a bit of beginners luck but with each bet I made, I lost. So much for that! Within an hour, my casino money was gone and I was not in a rush to lose any more!

The next morning, bright and early like excited children we packed our swim gear and towels and headed straight for the water park after breakfast.

We sunbathed for a little, swam in the lagoon, then headed up the stone steps to the water slides. The stairs seemed endless, and there were a group of giggling children who had already lapped us about 3 times!

After a while, we headed down to the lazy river instead where we lay in inflatable rings, pulled gently along by the water and drifting in the sun.

We stopped for a snack, then headed up to one of the much quieter pools in the afternoon where C’s parents had been hiding away. We sun bathed until I felt light headed, then we casually lapped the pool and ordered frozen daiquiris to cool off with.

Late afternoon we all headed back to the villas where we rested up, showered and changed and headed off to a shabine themed bar for drinks and snacks. A shabine is traditionally an African equivalent of a speakeasy (though a bit less glamorous). A place to get illegally sold liquor after the shops close.

Here’s a tip for you: If someone in Africa offers you “walkie-talkies” at a restaurant, it’s chicken’s head and feet. The feet by themselves are often referred to as “runners”. C’s mother had ordered runners with an appetizing side dish of mopane worms in tomato sauce.

I had always thought I was the type of person to try anything once until that was put in front of me. C & R on the other hand tucked straight in.

After all that excitement, we returned to the villa for bed, where I quickly rummaged through the cupboards for a snack that I knew and trusted.

The following day we explored. We walked around the resorts, surrounded by lush jungle like shrubs, streams and mini waterfalls. We stopped here and there for cocktails at different bars and restaurants, chatting and enjoying the sun.

In one of the hotels we spotted a sign for The Lost City Maze. We grinned and decided it would be a laugh. We followed the signs and found our way to a bamboo and rope bridge, the entrance to the maze…

We tentatively walked across the bridge and into the maze, where we split into three groups and decided to have a race. Feeling quite smug I set off at a quick pace, assuming the old “keep your hand to the left and follow that path” would work! Or was it keep your hand to the right?

After hitting a dead end I was feeling a bit perplexed, not to mention thirsty. It was pretty hot in that maze. It was out in the open, there was no cover from the glaring midday African sun.

I gave up trying to follow this path or that and just frantically rushed around. After out 30 minutes of rising panic and sweltering heat we found our way to the centre of the maze.

There was a window to look through, though too small to climb in, and no door. Inside I saw a bar, with drinks, and the other group were in there having a beer! I was dying of thirst and again I ran around with my hands on the wall praying I would find the bloody door before I died! Eventually we found the door and in we stepped! A bar, toilets, thank god! I will admit, I was little annoyed that my group didn’t win. I am a bit of a sore loser.

C & R ordered craft beer taster boards, served with little baskets of salted popcorn to cleanse the pallet.

After the rest of the group found their way in, grabbed a drink, cooled off, and headed back to the complex and to the pool. Catching the last few rays before the sun went down.

After an al fresco dinner we wandered around…

 

On our final full day we went to a crocodile sanctuary. Sanctuaries in South Africa seem to have a different philosophy to what us brits might have. They had a lot of big old crocs, and some babies you could hold but…

they also had a cafe which sold crocodile meat, and a gift shop with a vast selection of crocodile skin souvenirs. Apparently it is to generate income to save the other crocs. That all seemed a bit strange to me!

 

None of us were too keen on purchasing any crocodile skin souvenirs, and (oh so unfortunately) the cafe was closed that day. The rest of the day we just wandered around, swam, and sunbathed.

Our final morning in Sun City we went to the Cabanas hotel for a buffet breakfast. Full of fresh, sweet fruits apart from the one I happened to choose which was cayenne and pineapple. Nice but with an unexpected punch!

After this we packed up our things, and I stretched myself out with S in the back of the car, feet pounding, and slept like a log! Only waking up once we were near the cradle of man kind.

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Freelance writer who loves reading, cooking & travelling. Rarely spotted without red lipstick. Penchant for whiskey on the rocks.

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