‘Where’s the best malaria-free safari?’
It’s a question we are well-used to answering, as family safari experts. None of us wants to take malaria pills if we can avoid it, and we don’t want our kids to have to either.
Although the question doesn’t change year-on-year, our advice does. A lodge that was fantastic last year may not have the same management team this year, for example.
The advice that doesn’t change is this: you don’t have to compromise on a fantastic safari if you choose to go malaria-free. You can pack in the Big 5, excellent open-vehicle game viewing and top-class guides, all in a malaria-free area.
Before we get to the itinerary let’s clear up a few myths about malaria, mosquitoes and malaria prophylaxis.
Top 4 Myths About Malaria
Myth #1: I will get bitten if I go to a malarial country.
Not true! Mosquitoes need water, particularly stagnant water, and warmth. If you are heading to a place of altitude or going on safari in the cool, dry season, you may not find two mosquitoes to rub together. The minimum temperature for mosquito development is around 10°C, and the optimum temperature is around 25°C.
Myth #2: If I get bitten by a mosquito, I’ll get malaria.
Simply not true in the slightest. The only way you’ll get malaria is if a female mosquito bites you after it has bitten someone with malaria, and passes the plasmodium parasite to you. The World Health Organisation has a great explanation.
Myth #3: If I contract malaria, I’ll have it forever.
Again, not true. Malaria is a treatable disease: the parasites can be removed from the liver with prescribed drugs. The issues arise when treatment is delayed or if the wrong treatment is used. Have a look at the Centre for Disease Control FAQs for more information.
Myth #4: Antimalarials don’t work, they just hide the symptoms of the disease.
Ahh we hear one a lot and it’s a misunderstanding to do with how some types of malaria prophylaxis work. Some drugs (Atovoquone) kill the parasites in the liver where it resides, whilst others (proguanil, chloroquine) kill the disease in the bloodstream to prevent it spreading and multiplying. If the parasite is active in your liver, but being eradicated in the blood, you will be host to the parasites although you won’t have an attack of malaria. Most drugs are used in conjunction with others to ensure that the parasite is eliminated from all areas of the body. Have a look at the CDC’s guide to choosing a drug to prevent malaria.
The Best Malaria-Free Safari 2017 Itinerary
This is our most popular malaria free safari itinerary.
It’s only 7 days, so it’s perfect to fit into Spring Break /Thanksgiving if you’re in the States, or Easter holidays, October / February half terms for Europeans.
Malaria-Free Safari: In Brief
Duration: 7 nights
Budget type: 4*/5*
Popular with: Families, first-time safari guests, or those who wish to combine with other SA destinations such as Cape Town or the Winelands, as well as the beaches of Mauritius
Highlights: Big 5 game-viewing safari combined with a luxury family-focused lodge for riding, swimming, fishing, mountain biking…
Where: Madikwe Game Reserve and Waterberg in South Africa
Guide Price per person: $4,916
To add some flair: Leobo Private Reserve for 3 nights at the end and a helicopter transfer back to Johannesburg airport
Malaria-Free Safari 2017: Itinerary
Day 1-4: Morukuru Farmhouse, Madikwe Game Reserve
Day 1: you will be met at Johannesburg Airport after clearing customs, and escorted to your onward short flight to Madikwe. Upon arrival at Madikwe Airstrip you will be met and transferred on a game drive to Morukuru for refreshments.
You will meet your guide at high tea, if you have not met already, and around 4pm you will head out on a game drive to spot as many of the Big 5 as you can, amongst other wildlife!
During your stay at Morukuru you can plan your game-viewing as you see fit, and while at the lodge you will be fattened with lengthy meals including high tea.
Overnight: Morukuru Farmhouse
Madikwe Game Reserve
The Madikwe Game Reserve is our favourite malaria-free game reserve, home to a whopping 66 mammal species included the Big 5, and 340 bird species.
We love the bushveld and savanna landscapes with its rocky hills, rivers, and wetlands.
This is a great place to see endangered wild dog and even cheetah, and there are simply loads of elephants (the most you’ll find in South Africa after the Kruger).
There’s even rhino..
You’ll find Morukuru deep in the bush, in a private Big 5 reserve. It’s safe for kids as you’re fenced in without being obviously so, and your private guide and chef will help you plan your perfect days! The rooms are large, en suite with a wrap-around verandah and an outside bath which is always fun.
The Farmhouse is yours exclusively so there are never any other guests to irritate you. There are no set schedules and plenty to do, from walks, drives (day and night), tracking, sleep outs, swimming/waterskiing in the nearby dam; you are the masters of your stay and have complete freedom to do as you wish, when you wish.
Day 4-8: Ant’s Nest, The Waterberg Biosphere
Day 4: after breakfast you will be transferred by road to the Waterberg, stopping off for a picnic lunch en route. The drive is easy, on tarred roads with no traffic but an awful lot of warthogs. For those who don’t enjoy long drives (4hrs), there is an option of transferring by helicopter or light aircraft.
Upon arrival and after some refreshment, you will be shown to your room where your luggage will be waiting for you. You will meet your guide at high tea, if you have not met already, and around 4pm you will head out on a game drive or guided walk or pony rides for beginners or riding safari or a bug and spoor walk or rhino tracking or fishing or learning to become a ranger… you get the picture!
Overnight: Ant’s Nest
This gorgeous homestead has wide verandahs, open living spaces, and a restful view down the valley and over the plains where horses and rhino graze. The waterhole right in front of the bush home gives you awesome armchair game-viewing if you don’t fancy heading out one day. The riding here is the main draw for many people, and the stable-life and horse-loving staff provide a warm and lively atmosphere for all ages.
The Waterberg Biosphere
The Waterberg Reserve is South Africa’s first savannah biosphere, beautifully located in the photogenic red-rock Waterberg Mountains to the north of Johannesburg.
The Waterberg is remote enough to be peaceful but connected enough to get to easily – and crucially, to get hold of anything you need quickly.
Excitingly, the Waterberg is home to archaeological finds dating to the Stone Age, and nearby there are finds which relate to the origin of human life.
For those uninspired by rock art and such like, the Waterberg provides handsome views across bushveld and forest, and plenty of wildlife to see when you get up close.
Day 8: Departure
Day 8: after a late checkout and brunch, you will be transferred by road to Johannesburg, stopping off at a local artefact shop for presents on the way home if you wish.
Upon arrival at the airport, you will be assisted with your luggage to check in and bid a fond farewell.
3 nights at Morukuru Farmhouse
includes: meals, with brunch/lunch on day of departure, selection of spirits, local wines, beers, soft drinks, private game viewing vehicle & guide. Brunch at 11h00 after game drive, a high tea at 15h00 and dinner at 19h00. Also includes the reserve entrance fee.
4 nights at Ants Nest in 1 Deluxe Weaver Suite
includes all meals, local brand drinks, bush lunches and sundowners, game drives, horse riding, game walks, camp outs and laundry. Also includes the conservation fee.
This itinerary includes all internal flights and transfers, 24/7 on the ground support in South Africa. Does not include international flights.MORE INFORMATION
This by no means our only malaria-free itinerary
We’re just saying that right now, today, this is the malaria-free safari that our clients request the most, and for good reason.
Take Boo and Rory, for example:
‘We loved starting off in Madikwe for the game drives in an open Land Rover which was driven by a great guide: it was exciting! But then we got to Ant’s and we loved the freedom of being able to ride and stop to pick up porcupine quills and have picnics.
We became part of the Wilderness family, and saw different animals in the Waterberg than in Madikwe. It was the best of two amazing worlds.’
Boo, Rory, and their kids.