While I was in Pilanesberg, I spent a day in Sun City. Our ultimate destination was the Valley of the Waves. Lauren, Regan, and I spent a lot of time in the wave pool. I laughed when they told me the South African Sun was very unforgiving. I live in Denver- a mile-high desert. I’ve survived Water World before sunscreen was really a thing. How much more unforgiving could the South African sun be? I slopped on sunblock 3 times, wore a ball cap, sat in the shade, and finally purchased a sarong to cover my shoulders. I still got sunburned. South African sun is serious business.
After we had enough sun and swimming, we headed to the upper deck and saw some beautiful scenery resembling ruins. There was an amphitheater, a “Royal Bath” (which was a swimming pool), a bar, and an observation deck. Waterfalls were just past a pond and a trail led into the jungle. The trail first took us behind the waterfall. I felt my way through a cave that was pitch black in parts until finally I reached the light and felt the mist from the waterfall. I could see out to the Royal Bath and the observation deck.
We continued hiking and crossed a very sturdy permanent rope bridge and then we hiked up the side of another waterfall until the trail met land again. We picked random paths and climbed higher and higher. Light filtered through the trees and fell in patterns on my skin. The sun was a pin prick of light through the densely packed leaves. Everything was so green, so vivid. I savored every moment thinking, “I’m hiking in the African jungle in flip-flops and a sarong. I sure hope there aren’t any snakes.”
We came out of the jungle at the back courtyard of the Palace of Lost City, an exclusive hotel with some suites running as high as R40,000 per night. Only residents were allowed inside, with the exception of guided tours. We strolled into the back door. Lauren and I immediately shrunk- not wanting to get into trouble while Regan marched right up to a bellman and asked where the pool was.
We followed his directions through a few corridors toward the elevator. We stopped when we saw the room open up to the lobby below. Ornate marble and mural work covered the walls. We looked up to see a very intricate dome. Everything was so opulent, not one detail fell short of elegance. Someone played the grand piano while people lounged around.
We took the elevator downstairs and walked out to the hotel pool. The lawns were well-manicured and absolutely perfect. The stone surrounding the pool was pure white. People lounged in perfect lawn chairs, in perfect bathing suits, reading their perfect books. Not a hair was out of place. Gorgeous Indian women were everywhere, looking glamorous and exotic in their bikinis and huge sunglasses. I felt obvious in my sarong, bathing suit, ball cap and flip-flops and I felt a mild sting of envy. What a life!
We followed the path to a meadow. Off in the distance someone was getting a massage. Security guards sat at the entrances of various paths. They kept the riffraff from trespassing, with the obvious exception of us. Regan approached a guard and exchanged hellos before she asked for directions. Fearless and I admired her for it. The guard pointed to a barricaded path that bore a sign stating, “No access to the Valley of the Waves.” We climbed over and headed down and when out of earshot, we started laughing and practically skipped the rest of the way.
Too bad my camera was in our locker.