Fun in the sun for everyone

MENTION Sun City and for most it conjures up images of lazy days lounging around the hotel swimming pool and late nights spent trying one's luck in the casino.

MENTION Sun City and for most it conjures up images of lazy days lounging around the hotel swimming pool and late nights spent trying one's luck in the casino.

But look beyond the obvious and there are a whole host of outdoor activities available to keep young and old not only entertained but educated as well.

First up is the Elephant Wildlife Sanctuary in the adjacent Pilanesberg Game Reserve, which covers over 55 000 hectares.

Established about 10 years ago it is home to a family of elephants that were saved from certain death at the hands of poachers in Zimbabwe.

When initially moved to the reserve, they were understandably terrified of humans, yet through a great deal of patience and caring, they are now so used to people that it is possible for visitors to hand feed these massive creatures.

Each of the elephants responds to their adopted name, but king of the herd is a bull named Mighty Mike.

"Up trunk Mighty Mike" you instruct the beast standing in front of you and straight away this 6000kg beauty opens its mouth for food to be deposited.

"Down trunk Mighty Mike" and he closes his mouth and begins munching away on his meal.

And these meals are not in the "weighless" category as an adult elephant will easily munch through 180kg of food a day.

It really is an experience to get so close to these magnificent creatures - to touch their rough skins, smell their rotten breath, stroke that powerful trunk, marvel at their graceful movements.

A short drive from the elephant sanctuary is the Outdoor Adventure Centre.

Never fired a gun before? Then here is your chance.

Clay pigeon shooting dates back to the 1880s England where it was a favourite pastime of the elite, but luckily today it is a sport that is not too expensive to get involved in, and also a great deal of fun.

After a brief safety session it's time to put on your ear muffs, load your 12-bore shotgun and get ready for the aerial launch of your intended target.

It's exciting even for those who have never used any sort of firearm before. The kickback from the rifle is guaranteed to leave a bruise in the shoulder region the next morning, but it's worth it.

Archery is another activity that tests your sporting ability.

It looks a lot easier than it actually is and though it requires a certain amount of physical strength, technique is equally important.

Position the arrow, draw back the bow and pray you get as close to the bull's eye as possible.

Quadbiking is one of those activities I would only recommend to those who have ridden a motorbike before.

It's a load of fun but there are dangers associated with this outdoor pursuit.

Quadbike accidents are fairly common and inexperience is the main cause. The bikes are often powerful and it is easy to get carried away in a group environment. Safety first rather than sorry later.

But for many the ultimate outdoor adventure sport on offer is the Zip Slide.

Safely ensconced in your protective harness you are hooked up to a wire from which you dangle like an acrobat before reaching speeds of up to 140km/h as you plummet towards mother earth on a 2km trip of a lifetime.

The writer was a guest of Sun International