Malaria is prevalent in South Africa and if you’re travelling to this part of the world, you need to be aware of the risk. Malaria is not present in most of South Africa, only sections of Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Kwazulu Natal. There is no malaria in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape or the Free State and a few other provinces.
Visiting a Malarial Area
One of the most frequented destinations in South Africa is Kruger Park, famous not only for its size (it’s as big as Israel) but also the fact that it’s a trans-frontier park (the border fences to Zimbabwe and Mozambique have been removed, meaning that you are actually visiting three countries in Kruger. If you look at the malarial map, you will see that the eastern border of Kruger in Mozambique is definitely malarial. Kruger itself is seasonally malarial (October to May).and Greater Kruger (western border) is low risk malarial.
A lot of our clients, if travelling only to the western borders of Kruger and only for a few days, don't bother with anti-malarial medication. Few South Africans bother (ourselves included) but then again, we take a lot of precautions to avoid getting bitten at all and because we’re used to it, it doesn’t bother us. Moquito nets help, electronic machines help, rubbing repellent onto your skin helps, wearing long sleeves and trousers in the morning and evening help. Despite all this, you can be bitten by a mosquito at any time and it only takes one mosquito bite to get malaria.
If you are bitten by a mosquito in a malarial area and you have no prophylaxis, you stand a chance of contracting the disease for which there is no cure.
Avoiding Malaria Completely
The simplest way to avoid taking anti-malarial medication or any exposure to malaria risk is not to travel to the malarial areas. This may sound like very obvious advice but it is most certainly possible to go on safari without coming close to a malarial area. Here is a list of excellent malaria-free safari options.
Madikwe Game Reserve, which is north west of Johannesburg near the Botswanan border, is a stunning reserve filled with some exceptional private lodges. Our big favourite there is The Bush House because it’s one of the oldest buildings there and is owner managed.
The Eastern Cape is still the most untouched area for big game viewing in South Africa and offers a really wide variety of accommodation in public, private and public/private reserves. Our top five would be:
Amakhala Game Reserve, Woodbury Lodge – a public/private reserve hosting ten private lodges. Excellent value for money.
The Elephant House (near Addo Elephant Park) – old world colonial-style guesthouse right next to the second largest public game reserve in the country.
Kwandwe Game Reserve – splendid conservation efforts at this large private game reserve.
Siyabuya Game Reserve - a wildlife reserve based on a river: you actually arrive by boat. Magical.
Oceana Game Reserve – based in coastal dune forest with a private beach
We suggest two things:
- Take your safari in a malaria-free area
- Get proper advice from a travel clinic in your own town from a doctor you know personally