Monday, February 23, 2009

Sun City & Pilanesberg

We didn't really celebrate V-day last weekend because we wanted to go to Sun City and knew that it would be crazy crowded if we went that weekend, so we saved it a week. It was the bomb. It is so fun living in South Africa and having places like this that are just 2 hours away!

{The scoop}
Sun City:The "Vegas" of South Africa. It has these 3 amazing hotel & casinos and 'Valley of the Waves' water park. It's very secluded and you have to park your car and take a sky train just to get in.
Pilanesberg: An awesome 'drive-yourself' game reserve 10km away from Sun City. It's on the small side, which makes spotting game much easier than somewhere like Krugers.

We left Friday around 1pm and drove to Rustenburg (which is the "host city" for the World Cup next year--we saw the big soccer stadium they're in the process of building for it. It's just 20km from Sun City & Pilanesberg). We stayed at this quaint little B&B called "Authentique French Guest House," it's owned by this hilarious and friendly guy from France who was so helpful to us. We loved it. And we loved the price even more. Sun City would've been $400-$500 per night...whereas here we spent $59 a night. It's the way we roll.

{Photo courtesy of}
Friday night before Pilanesberg closed, we took a night drive for an hour and a half. We saw a giraffe, rhinos, a hippo, and lots of zebra, wildebeast, and impala. It was fun because at night they get more active and alive. We went back to our place, had dinner and set up to do a hot air balloon ride over Pilanesberg the following morning. I was so excited! I've never been in one and always wanted to. We were going to have to get up at 3:30am to be there ready to go at 4am. It was 1-2 hour flight, spotting game, then they fed us breakfast and drove us around for a little while.

That night, we both didn't sleep, it wasn't too comfortable and you know how when there's something really important in the morning like a test or something, you get really anxious and nervous that you'll sleep through your alarm or something and miss it?? I HATE it when that happens. You toss and turn worrying about missing it and don't sleep at all. That's what happened. So we finally got up, got ready and got there on time at 4am. No one was there!! We called the people and they said, "Oh we canceled it because there were only 7 people and we have to have a minimum of 8..." OH AWESOME. Thanks. "WHY do you have to have 8???" ...."Well it's about weight," they said. Whatever! Throw in a sandbag! Bull--it's all about money you mean. So that was totally and completely annoying. But we have learned, that's how things roll in Africa. Very different from America.

So we were up super early and didn't want to go back, and Pilanesberg didn't open till 5:30am. So we decided to just drive to Pilanesberg and park right in front of the gate. Pretty funny. The first worker that came was probably thinking, "What eager little suckers." But we loved it. It was awesome to be the first ones in and driving around. The animals were still semi-sleeping but getting up. We were driving around and came across this pack of HUGE White Rhinos. Can I tell you how awesome that was. There were 6 of them and they were RIGHT by our car. We parked and just watched and took pictures. I decided to make some weird noise and they all immediately got up and faced us and looked like they were going to charge us. It was so funny--and scary! They just stood there and some got back down to sleep. Ben likes to get out of the car up high to take pictures climbing out the window and standing on the window seal. He did this and the big mean one in charge started rocking his head up and down and scraping the ground and growling. Ben was back in so fast. It was just unreal. We were there forever watching them. Until they got sick of us and left. The daddy was HUGE. Wow. Rhinos are so cool! And so weird looking:)



We drove around the park from 5:30am till about 2pm. That's like 8 hours!! We were in heaven. We saw the coolest things. Better than anyone else that was there that's for sure. We were little animal trackers. We'd spot the elephants way off, calculate their intended direction, and then take off to where we thought and wait for them. They always came! We're so good. Forget Monitor! I think Ben should quit and we should do that for a living everyday.






So many pictures! It was so hard to narrow 400 down to 20.

So we beat the elephants to this watering hole where they were spraying themselves with mud to cool off.

Then they started to go so we beat everyone and drove to where we thought they were going, while we were driving slow Ben thought "OK they're coming up the hill to the road right here" and I said "No a little further", so we went a little further and then to the right we heard T-Rex foot prints and our water glasses started to ripple, we stopped and saw the trees start moving and all of a sudden:

So cool. And I am not lying that it was SO much closer in real life, it's weird.


We couldn't ever spot the lions. They sleep 19 hours of the day and only feed once or twice every 2 weeks. So unless it's hunting time, you definitely don't see them. But we were fine, we saw 2 Jackal, 12 giraffes, 8-10 White Rhinos, 1 Black Rhino, 3 elephants (and the lady told us we wouldn't see any because they've been so scarse lately--we showed her!) 7 hippos, a few turtles, jack rabbits, some cool cat far off, and hundreds and hundreds of wildebeast, antelope, impala, and zebra.

After Pilanesberg, we went to take a much needed nap. Then went to play with some more baby lions. For $2.50 each--who wouldn't?? They're SOO cute. I just love their big bright baby eyes.



The 4 month olds were pretty relaxed and friendly, then we went into the 6 month old ones and this one was SO hyper and just wanted Ben to be a lion to play with. He immediately attacked Ben and wouldn't stop. It was so funny I wish I had the video on. I was too scared because he would've killed me so I just took the pics...



These are Ben's battle wounds. He wished he had more.


To finish the day, we went swimming at the B&B and watched a movie and went to bed early.

Sunday was Sun City day. We spent the whole day swimming in the waves, slides, pools, and exploring all the gardens. It was an amazing place. The big hotel called The Palace of the Lost City is forbidden to go to unless you're a guest but we ventured through the jungle and found it and sneakily explored it. Holy nice. We just "looked natural and confident" to avoid any suspicion. It was so fun.


On the way back we found like 20 baboons! It was a whole colony right in front of us! We even saw some making babies! It was quite the sight.



We had the best weekend. It is SO hard, and even a little depressing for me to start another long week after such an amazing weekend like this one. I have got to find a job.
We will definitely be doing this again. And hopefully with a balloon ride next time:)


Eric and Alexis Beus said...

That looks like the funnest thing ever! You guys are so lucky! We just found out that my husband's cousin is going to Johannesburg on his mission!! Neat huh! So we thought we'd have him look you up! :) He doesn't leave until August though. Miss ya!

Jill Revell said...

Camille - did you seriously take those pictures of the animals? They are AMAZING! I'm so glad you guys blog about your adventures. You guys are definitely living a good life!

Bradley and Jackie said...

That places looks AMAZING! I had no idea that there was such a place...

Chelsie said...

oh my heck!! all of these adventures are amazing and your pics..of course...are incredible. my son thoroughly enjoys your blog because of all the animal pictures

Sarah said...

I already left a comment, but maybe I didn't submit it all the way...oops. My favorites are the pics of the rhino and of the elephant's giant BE-hind!! I read a book over the weekend that made me think of you.. it's called "Beneath a Marble Sky" and it's a fiction book based on the story of the Taj Mahal. It was intense and I couldn't put it down!! You should check it out.

hailee said...

that looks so fun! and i love the zebra picture! im jealous...not going to lie... we are here in SNOW and cold and you guys are playing with animals and swimming! lucky!!!

Lindsay and David said...

Oh my goodness, the elephant movie is crazy! That is some great footage, up close and personal with a giant elephant! I love all of you pictures!

shannon said...

man thats so cheap to stay at that nice hotel and 2.50 to play w/ the cubs!!! man!! no fair!!

Janelle Phipps said...

So you guys should start your own tv show or something with all of these adventures you're having. I so wish David and I could have been in the car with you when that elephant came out of the trees. I probably would have peed my pants.

Winters said...

Camille I am so jealous these pictures are amazing! you are so lucky to see all those amazing animals I love your blog!!!

Kelley said...

GREAT GREAT pictures girl! Love them all! So amazing. Gosh- I love looking at your blog, I wish I was there :)