When you visit Jackalberry Lodge in the Thornybush Private Game Reserve, you’ll be party to a luxury experience that will stay with you for a lifetime. Part of this treat is the privilege of having a butler at your service to see to your every need.

Lucy Mabunda is one of these uniquely service-oriented employees that holds this esteemed title. Our butlers are the people that put the literal cherry on the top of your luxury safari, but her friendly demeanour belies the difficult road she’s travelled to get here.

Lucy’s Journey

While we value every staff member at our prestigious lodges, we’re particularly proud of those who’ve risen above their circumstances to match the high standards of service and hospitality expected on a five-star safari.

Lucy Mabunda was born in Mozambique and moved to South Africa with her mother at the age of 9, after her parents went their separate ways. It’s never easy growing up in a single-parent household, but Lucy’s determination and love of meeting new people has seen her through.

Lucy’s mum laboured all day as a domestic worker, while Lucy and her siblings – a sister and 2 brothers – sold fish door to door to bring in extra income. Times were hard but they stuck together and today they are all employed and proud to be able to support their mother in her retirement.

Her love of all things nature-related began during her school years where she was fascinated to learn more about the environment while working on a bush clearing project initiated by her alma mater. This hands-on experience was enough to install working in the wild right at the top of this youngster’s bucket list.

Into the Wild

After leaving school, Lucy was unable to continue her formal education but that didn’t deter her from following her dreams anyway. She started working as a housekeeper at Moholoholo Ya Mati. When the opportunity for further study at Ngala Game Lodge emerged, Lucy was the first one to raise her hand.

This little boost in her learning was enough to get her foot in the door with Jackalberry Game Lodge. She worked as a waitress for 4 years until the lodge joined the Thornybush Game Reserve in 2014, when she was promptly promoted to butler.

Life at the Lodge

Part of Lucy’s charm is her obvious love for her job. She’s passionate about adding those little touches that make every stay at Jackalberry Lodge something to remember. She’s had some memorable experiences herself during her employment, but an unusual early morning visitor stands out the most in her mind.

Fast asleep in the staff village one night, Lucy was woken by the sound of breaking glass. When she went to investigate, she was greeted by a large probing trunk hoping to grab a snack through the broken window. Despite this humorous event, her heart belongs to the cheetah, her favourite animal of all.

Apart from her 16-year-old daughter, Lucy’s interests include gospel music and keeping her guests happy.

Have you had the privilege of meeting Lucy? If you have then let us know what your fondest memory of her is!

If you’re looking for a game reserve that delivers not only on the safari experience, but on personal touches and attention to detail too – then Jackalberry Lodge is for you!

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