A visit to Jaci’s Sabi House

Author: Stacey Whitby

My mom booked a three-night stay for her, my brother, my sister-in-law, and myself to go to the Sabi Sands and stay at Jaci’s Sabi House. She had booked through Wandering and requested our favourite ranger and good friend, Ryan Johnston, to join us as our guide.

We met Ryan a few years ago when he was still a guide at Ulusaba, Sir Richard Branson’s Private Game Reserve, and I have gotten to know him very well. Ryan has been a true inspiration for all of us and has grown our love and passion for the bush. Ryan has taught me so much about the bush and unlocked a massive passion for it inside of me that because of him, I have decided to work with wildlife and the environment in the future. Ryan is one of the best rangers ever and has outstanding bush knowledge. Not only is he an expert in the field, but he is also a fantastic person who connects with all his guests on a more personal level and makes the trip even more special.

A elephant on safari with Wandering Thru.

The Lodge

Jaci’s Sabi House was like a piece of paradise. It only sleeps six people, and we were fortunate, being five people, that we had the lodge to ourselves. The lodge feels like walkinginto your home while still experiencing luxury. We enjoyed getting to know the staff, especially the chef whose kitchen was right by the dining area, so we got to chat with her and get to know her. Her food was exceptional and we looked forward to a surprise every meal or ordering our dinner which we enjoyed around a boma like set up.

The lodge is fenced off, allowing guests to walk around, sit on hanging swings under the trees, and feel safe. A fence was necessary since the lodge looked over a magnificent dam full of hippos and other animals, such as crocodiles and fish. The hippos kept us very entertained. You could often hear and see the hippos playing, fighting, swimming and so on.

A chameleon on safari with Wandering Thru.

Game viewing

You have a high chance of seeing the big five and some incredible sightings in the Sabi Sands. We were fortunate enough to experience both. We got to see two female leopards,  and Kuchava. Langa, we saw at sunset, sitting amongst thick grass. She was a breathtaking small leopard, and we all sat silently while we admired her. We laughed in this sighting when we heard a funny sound coming towards us, almost like a giant mosquito, which turned out to be an electric vehicle from another lodge. Still, we were all in hysterics, initially trying to figure out what this strange noise was.

Seeing Kuchava was incredible. Ryan was telling us about a fig tree that acts like a parasite. He was just saying how the tree had grown over another type of tree when he suddenly stopped, looked through his binoculars, and said, “There’s a leopard in that tree.” This female leopard was relaxing in a tree watching a herd of impalas. From the size of the female belly and her teats, it was evident she’s pregnant. There were no suckle marks just yet though and so the little ones were still being brewed. We sat with her for a while, and once other vehicles started coming to the sighting, she made her way out of the tree and started walking into the thicket.

We saw many herds of elephants who were so relaxed and accustomed to the vehicles. They walked around us and carried on their days as if we weren’t there. We saw some small baby elephants and some teenagers who thought they were big and robust and began mock charging us but would then get frightened by something and quickly walk off. It’s all about showing us how scary they could be, with no intention of following up on their threats. 

Some birding

Going from the big to the small, we saw a Verreaux’s Eagle Owl outside our lodge with a scrub hare kill. Seeing an owl in the morning was astounding, and it didn’t worry about us as we slowly moved closer to it. Ryan has also grown our love for birding, and what was so amazing was the bird life in the Sabi Sands. Besides the Vearreaux’s Owl, we saw many other bird species. We had incredible interactions with birds such as the African Hawk Eagles scavenging around for food in dead trees seeing Saddle Billed Storks and White Backed Vultures mating.

Owl on safari with Wandering Thru.
A Verraux’s eagle-owl (Bubo lacteus)


In the daytime, we saw all types of animals, such as zebra, wildebeest, impala, nyala, etc. Wewere incredibly fortunate to see two white rhinos grazing. A forty-year-old female with her calf. We got to spend a lot of time with them, and it’s always special when you see rhinos in the wild.

As the evenings went on, we saw another side of the bush when the nocturnal animals began coming out. We saw chameleons and white-tailed mongooses; we heard a hyena calling, and one evening, we stopped and admired the Milky Way and stars above us.

Our best nighttime sighting was when we saw the Nkhuma pride with the Talamati male. We arrived earlier that afternoon when they were fast asleep, but when we came back, we were lucky enough to witness the lions grooming one another and interacting. After some time, the females began moving off, and the male followed behind. We followed them until they found a herd of impala in a clearing. We watched the dynamics that go into a hunt and how the lions began stalking. We left, and the pride didn’t get a kill, but following the pride and seeing how they interacted was terrific.


It was such an incredible bush adventure. Good time, with really good people all around. The bush has a way of filling your heart, and I can’t wait for our next trip with Wandering Thru, and thank you to our incredible ranger and friend, Ryan, for everything.

Happy guests on safari with Wandering Thru.
Happy faces all round.


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