When my husband said he was going to attend an insurance conference in Sun City, I have to say, I wasn't racing off to book flights. South Africa has never really been on my 'must go to' places. But as his trip took shape and there were some other meetings planned in Johannesburg either side of the conference I thought 'why not'. It was somewhere new to visit and explore and someone else would be making my bed everyday.
I really am often surprised that people don't take advantage of their traveling spouses and accompany them more often, but I am in the lucky position of having time and no work ties so I try to take advantage of the company paying for the hotel room wherever possible.
I booked flights using some of the air miles we have accumulated and I signed up for the 'partners program' - and the entertainment planned by the conference organizers. Shortly afterwards I received an email with the options available. I nearly fell over. It was fabulous. I could choose from Rhino Tracking, a game drive, spa treatments or a cooking class. This was the most looked after I have ever been on any business trip with my husband.
Our trip started in Johannesburg where we stayed for 3 nights at The Michelangelo Hotel in Sandton. We had a few dinners organized with some of hubby's colleagues but during the day I was left to my own devices. Which gave my time to get some lovely spa pampering and a bit of retail therapy at the shopping mall next door.
On the day we had leave for sun city we organized a taxi and spent just over 2 hours watching the landscape change from busy city to dry and arid volcano pit. We arrived at the conference and were given our itineraries and a welcome gift and went off to get dressed for the welcome cocktail evening. Our hotel, The Palace of the Lost City was fabulously OTT. There were gold chandeliers, elephant statues and and zebra skin chairs, and that was just the breakfast room. It is of the best hotels in Sun City, and although there were a few things that we weren't completely impressed about, I have to admit is was quite spectacular.
The next day whilst my husband attended the conference I went on the Rhino Tracking activity organised with Mankwe Game Trackers.
It was amazing. The company who organize it are passionate about preserving the white rhino and gave a very informative talk about the problems with hunting and poaching.
These rhino have a small chip in the rhino horn so they can find them and check on their safety several times a day. Of course this also helps the group locate them in this vast park.
We were able to get to the rhino on foot and were about 10 meters away. It was a truly amazing experience. The guides explained the behavior of the rhino and are so experienced with them that we never felt in any danger. The rhino were so relaxed with our presence that a mother and daughter actually lay down and went to sleep, as you can see in the photos below. We could even hear them snoring!
The Zebra, was just there along the way, just standing there looking at us...
If you are on a trip to Sun City, this should definitely go on your itinerary, ts an amazing experience and the charges help to keep the Rhino safe from hunters.
The next day was a game drive through Pilanesburg National Park on a Game Drive with the same company who did the Rhino Tracking. We saw another rhino alongside giraffe, elephant, hippo, crocodile, Impala, zebra, kudu and even a kingfisher. I've never really wanted to go on a safari, but this small taster has made me think that it might be quite a good idea.
The park is huge 55,000 hectare and the forth largest in S Africa, so this is just like the wild for the animals but they are slightly protected as there is no hunting here and poachers are severely punished.
Nature does have its own ideas however, and sadly the impala have earned the name 'McDonalds' as they are a fast food snack for the leopards and lions in the park.
On both days there were fancy formal evening dinners - great opportunities to get dressed up!
The whole conference was great fun, we were well fed and looked after, stayed in the amazing Palace of the Lost City Hotel.
I got to meet some lovely people and even get up close with a white rhino..
After the conference we headed back to Johannesburg where my husband had a couple of days of meetings. I organised a driver to show me around Soweto and Johannesburg. I got to see the last home of Nelson Mandela and also the home Nelson and Winnie Mandela shared before his arrest.
I also visited the Hector Pieterson museum, which told a very moving story of the violent struggle against apartheid in 1976.
My husband and I stayed over the weekend, so that he could wind down a little after the busy week and we decided to take a driver and have a look around Pretoria, which was completely different to Johannesburg, much more hectic.
I think its always good to tag a weekend onto the end of a business trip, and we do this as often as we can. Then it really feels like a break and of course my husband gets to enjoy the cities he visits as much as I do.
Another bonus of the trip was that there was no shortage of good red wine and steaks. In Johannesburg we had great meals, our favorites were at The Butcher Shop and also The Grill House.
Really, I can't think of a good reason to stay at him when there are so many adventures to be had on business trips :).
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