One request we get every now and then is for a malaria-free safari experience. Malaria is a risk (although generally not a huge one) many places in Africa, so we recommend that our clients speak with their doctors about the preventative measures and medications that they might need for their trip.
However, it IS absolutely possible to plan a safari to malaria-free destinations so that you don’t have to worry about it at all. So, if you are concerned about the risk of malaria, let us know, and we can put together a stunning itinerary that will set your mind at ease!
Read on to learn more about malaria-free (or very low-risk) destinations we recommend!
KWANDWE PRIVATE GAME RESERVE, SOUTH AFRICA
Situated along the Garden Route in the Eastern Cape Province, Kwandwe is home to just 30 rooms spread across two lodges, three exclusive-use villas, and one rustic tented camp, making for one of the highest land-to-guest ratios in South Africa. Visitors are treated to twice-daily game drives to track the Big Five, walking safaris, and fishing in the Great Fish River.
MADIKWE GAME RESERVE, SOUTH AFRICA
Situated along the Botswana border in South Africa, close to the Kalahari Desert, Madikwe is about 4.5 hours by car from Johannesburg. The reserve is surrounded by the breathtaking Dwarsberg Mountains and is home to 66 large mammal species (including the Big Five and wild dogs) and approximately 300 bird species, making both morning and evening game drives an exciting wildlife-viewing experience. There are a wide variety of accommodations to choose from in the reserve, but one of our favorites is The Royal Madikwe Luxury Safari Lodge. With just three suites and two villas for a total of 8 bedrooms, The Royal Madikwe offers exclusivity and luxury in addition to an excellent safari experience featuring the Big Five and wild dogs.
ENTABENI GAME RESERVE, SOUTH AFRICA
Entabeni Game Reserve is situated just 3 hours north of Johannesburg. In this 22,000 hectare Big 5 game reserve, you’ll find dramatic mountains as the backdrop against which you can spot grazing wildebeest. zebra, and giraffe during twice daily game drives, nature walks, or even a horseback safari. This area is best visited in the dry season — May through October — for the optimal game viewing. Our favorite lodge in this region is Hanglip Mountain Lodge, home to 10 luxury suites with private sun decks and views across the wetlands, plains, and Hanglip Mountain in the distance.
SHAMWARI PRIVATE GAME RESERVE, SOUTH AFRICA
Home to six luxurious lodges and one tented explorers camp, plus three different education and rehabilitation facilities, Shamwari Private Game Reserve is another ideal destination for a malaria-free safari. Activities in the region include twice daily game drives, guided bush walks, birding excursions, a variety of special experiences for kids on safari, as well as visits to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuaries, and even volunteer opportunities through the Shamwari Conservation Experience.
ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK, NAMIBIA *
One of Namibia’s most famous national parks, Etosha is home to a salt pan so large it can be seen from space. It is also full of wildlife, easy to find as it gathers around numerous waterholes. Here, game viewing is easiest in the winter dry season (which is also entirely malaria-free), and birdwatching is excellent in the green summer months (which also bring a greater, although still slim risk of malaria). There are many lodging options both within the park and just outside it. Two of our favorites are Onguma The Fort, which overlooks the salt pans and offers 12 suites, and Etosha Mountain Lodge, which is home to 9 chalets and is an excellent spot for tracking rhino.
KARIEGA GAME RESERVE, SOUTH AFRICA
Situated in the Eastern Cape Province, Kariega is home to the Big 5 as well as a multitude of other wildlife including hippo, giraffe and zebra and is an excellent destination for birders. Mountains and rivers make for varied landscapes and stunning backdrops for game drives and walking safaris. Three lodges, a tented camp, and an exclusive-use property provide a variety of options for visitors. Ukhozi Lodge is a favorite, with its 10 luxurious suites, each with a private plunge pool and viewing deck.
MAASAI MARA GAME RESERVE, KENYA *
Although malaria is very rare in the Maasai Mara due to its high elevation and lack of mosquitoes, it does exist, so the Maasai Mara is included in this list with a bit of an asterisk. However, it is certainly one of Africa’s top safari destinations, spanning 580 square miles — and that’s before you add in the surrounding conservancies. It’s home to more than 95 species of mammals and more than 570 species of birds. It’s well known for the Great Migration and offers a huge variety of camps and lodges to choose from. A couple of our favorites are Angama Mara, which is perched 1,000 feet above the Maasai Mara, and Mara Plains Camp, which is one of just a few Relais & Chateaux properties in Kenya and which is home to some of the continent’s best game viewing.
TSWALU KALAHARI RESERVE, SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa’s largest private reserve, Tswalu offers an off-the-beaten-path escape, with a focus on sustainability through conservation, community, culture, and commerce. It is situated in a transition zone between the Kalahari Desert and the arid savannah. Besides day and night game drives, complimentary activities include nature walks, animal tracking, horse riding, stargazing, dune breakfasts, sleeping out under the stars, and spending time with habituated meerkats. The Motse camp accommodates a maximum of 24 guests, Tarkuni accommodates up to 10 guests in an exclusive-use homestead, and up to 16 guests can be accommodated in the 6 private tented homes that make up Loapi.
PHINDA PRIVATE GAME RESERVE, SOUTH AFRICA *
Phinda is home to the Big Five as well as 436 bird species and is well-known as an excellent place for sightings of the elusive cheetah and rare black rhino. Phinda is also home to six luxury lodges — Mountain Lodge, Rock Lodge, Forest Lodge, Vlei Lodge, Zuka Lodge, and Phinda Homestead — each of which offer something unique and ensuring there is something for everyone at Phinda. Activities include twice-daily game drives, bush walks, conservation and research experiences, and local Zulu community experiences. For visitors who want to venture out a bit further, Phinda is also close to the Indian Ocean coastline and iSimangaliso Wetland Park, and ocean adventures can be easily arranged. This is another destination where the risk of malaria is very low, but not zero.
ADDO ELEPHANT NATIONAL PARK, SOUTH AFRICA
Addo is the third largest national park in South Africa and is home to a wide variety of landscapes, flora, and fauna, including the one of the densest populations of elephants in the world. With its proximity to the ocean, Addo offers a Big 7 experience — you’ll find not only the traditional Big 5 but also marine whales and great white sharks. At Addo, you’ll find Gorah Elephant Camp, Kuzuko Lodge, and RiverBend Lodge, each offering a unique luxury experience in the park.
As you can see, there are a wide variety of options available for malaria-free (or nearly malaria-free) safaris in Africa. If you are interested in this or any other type of safari, I hope you’ll reach out.
Visit www.hillsofafrica.com/contact-us to get started!