South Africa has not been on my list of must-see places, but after I visited, I question myself why??
I went to South Africa with my dad and his friends, and their plus ones, well in my dad’s case, plus two! The trip was organized and handled by Pan Asia World Holidays, a travel agency here in Davao City.
This is the itinerary of the first part of the trip:
We arrived in Johannesburg and went straight to Gold Reef Mine for an underground tour of the old mine. Then we drove to the hotel to rest.
We started the day early to head to Pretoria to see the Voortrekker Monument. We were given time to explore the museum and marvel at the architecture.
The balcony goes all the way around and most people take photos on that side near the elevator door, so if you don’t want photobombers, walk around the perimeter and you’re gonna see at least one side that’s empty. Also, you can get to the top part by climbing the narrow steps from the balcony. It is accessed from a small door so keep your eyes peeled so you don’t miss it.
We had lunch at Moyo Restaurant. We were supposed to have dinner here the day we arrived but we were so tired from the flight that we chose to end the day early. The restaurant is like a park in itself, with all the plants and trees. It was Heritage Day too when we went so people were wearing their tribal outfits and someone is going around the restaurant to facepaint customers, as they explain the different patterns of every tribe. I had a floral pattern from the Xhosa tribe.
We went to the Union Buildings next, where the big Nelson Mandela statue is, then the Kruger House, then went to have dinner at Carnivore. Carnivore changes their ‘Game Meats’ menu everyday depending on what is available from the wild. It’s crazy! We got lucky they had grilled zebra when we were there. Who would have known I’d have the chance to try zebra meat?
We started this day even earlier than yesterday! We are driving to go on an afternoon game drive at Kruger National Reserve. I have never dreamed of going on a safari, because animals and the wild is just not my thing, but it is unbelievably amazing. Wonderful. I don’t know how to describe it to give the experience some justice. I was in awe.
Even before Africa, I’ve seen giraffes, leopards, elephants and most of the animals I saw there, but seeing them actually in the wild, and not in cages, just running around, feeding for themselves, again, I don’t have the words.
The people who manage the place does not interfere with the wild. No food is given to the animals, no trees planted for food, no nothing. So when tourists come to visit, you gotta be patient coz the rangers don’t know where to find the animals, you’d be driving around for a while but when you actually see them, it’s gonna be worth it.
After that amazing experience, we went back to our hotel, Sanbonani Resort, and had a relaxing time walking around the property.
Time to head to Sun City Resort in Rustenburg. It was a long drive and we entertained ourselves with a lot of singing in the bus. When we arrived, we were given free time to explore the whole resort. Inside, they have shops, restaurants, a theater, a water park, a watersports park, two casinos, two golf courses, and four hotels. That place is huge.
We stayed at The Palace of the Lost City. I tell you, it deserves its name. It does look like a palace! Once we got settled in, we decided to have dinner at the SoHo’s The Sun Terrace, an al fresco buffet restaurant. The boys went to the Casino while the ladies went around to look at the shops and gathered at the bar. (See what I did there? Boys and ladies. 😉)
We were supposed to go on a hot air balloon ride but that was cancelled because of strong winds, so we decided to go on a morning game drive to Pilanesburg National Park instead. This is a smaller park compared to Kruger, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Between Kruger and Pilanesburg, I would say I had a better experience at Pilanesburg. It’s not an apple-to-apple comparison because I went at different times, so maybe it’s not the park itself but the time of day that makes it better – I went to Kruger in the afternoon, and went to Pilanesburg early in the morning.
But because Pilanesburg is smaller, you spend less time driving around before seeing your first animal. Also when I was there, the animals were more active, running around. Pilanesburg also has a lake which is a most-likely place to see the animals.
We spent the rest of the day around Sun City, shopping, eating, and swimming in their water park, Valley of Waves. They have a wave pool, ziplines, water slides, and an adult-only closed lagoon. It’s a strictly-no-photos area, and they’re so serious about it that they provide lockers outside the lagoon entrance. 🙈
Overnights guests of four hotels within the resort gets complimentary access to the Valley of Waves. So if you’re looking at hotels and you know you wanna visit the waterpark, you should look into this. You may be able to save more if you choose to stay within the resort, plus it’s more accessible because free shuttles go around the resort to take you to places.
When the park closed, we went back to the hotel and I continued swimming at The Palace. Like I said there are shuttles that take you to places within the resort, but if you don’t mind walking, the Valley of Waves is connected to The Palace. A path would take you from the water park to the Gardens of the Lost City, then to the poolside.
We had dinner at the hotel’s impressive dining hall, definitely the best-looking place I have dined in, in my whole life.
It’s time to pack up and drive back to Johannesburg airport to fly south to the next destination!
Watch this video so you’d see how much fun we had on this trip!