South Africa can offer you three prominent locations, spread over the map, for a malaria-free, child friendly African experience. These areas and reserves will offer you a world class safari while promising you complete peace of mind. Many of the lodges on the reserves are child friendly with comprehensive children programs.
Mosquitoes are pesky annoying blood suckers at their best. Laying awake on a hot summer night listening to their insistent droning is bad enough, so you need not add any further inconvenience to the equation. The thought of being infected by a malaria carrying mosquito is enough to put anyone off a safari.
There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding malaria, so lets lay some of your concerns to rest. There are certain parts of South Africa are high risk malaria zones, that much is true. Very few areas are high risk, and there are loads of fantastic reserves where you can enjoy the peace of mind of a malaria-free safari. You especially want to consider a malaria-free zone if you will be travelling with children and young ones, since contracting malaria will affect them the worst. Most malaria-free game reserves are also very child friendly. As an added bonus, you do not have to be concerned with the hassle of taking malaria prophylactics.
The Eastern Cape was the host of the greatest wildlife areas in Africa before the arrival of the settlers. The entire area is now returning to its roots, recovering vast spaces of land and wildlife.
Home to reserves like the ever popular and luxurious Shamwari, this region is the ideal safari location for travelers coming from Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Reserves are scattered over large areas of the famed Garden Route. Not only will you be assured of a malaria-free experience, you also get to explore and discover one of the most naturally diverse areas in the country. A trip to the reserve is a holiday in itself. Big 5, attractive small towns, rich history and friendly people will leave you wanting to come back for more. The entire region has a pleasant mild climate, perfect for a holiday for the whole family.
Madikwe Game Reserve
Madikwe Game Reserve is a good choice for travelers coming through Johannesburg. The reserve is on the border of Botswana in the North West Province, located about 3.5 hours drive outside of Johannesburg and Pretoria. Covering 75 000 hectare, it is one of South Africa’s largest nature reserves, being home to 66 species of mammals and 300 birds species. The entire area is enclosed in a 150 kilometer perimeter fence, keeping the animals and large predators from running wild. Madikwe is bordered by the large, rugged oldest mountain range in the world, while the expanses of plains and open woodland stretch endlessly. The area is within the transition region between the Lowveld Bush and the Kalahari Thorn Fields, resulting both in a malaria-free trip, and a very diverse eco system.
Madikwe is one of the only reserves proclaimed on the grounds of being the most sustainable land. Reclaiming and maintaining the reserve is a joint venture between the state, local communities and the private sector. Offering 11 lodges in total, the reserve is a perfect family destination, as many of the lodges welcome children, and cater to their needs with an extensive range of activities. Game drives are conducted twice a day, at dawn and dusk, and private bush walks can also be arranged.
Waterberg Wilderness Nature Reserve
The Waterberg is South Africa’s best kept secret. The mountain range is located in the Limpopo Province, further north towards Zimbabwe. However, with its multitudes of streams, waterfalls and swamps, the reserve stretches well over 150 kilometers towards Potgietersrus in the East. This entire area is a malaria-free zone.
Due to the rugged nature of the terrain, a 4 x 4 vehicle is highly recommended getting there, necessitating terrain vehicle hire for travelers from abroad. In some areas, these vehicles are essential. The reserve itself offers breathtaking views over the rolling hills and valleys and the deep gorges, boasting natural streams and pools. Waterberg is a natural reserve, with the objective on conserving the species within. 250 species of birds made this their home. Game viewing in large numbers is not uncommon, as the mountainous terrain offers an excellent vantage point.
The reserve is best suited for travellers wishing to self-plan their inventory and trip as they go along. Game drives are essentially executed in your own 4 x 4 vehicles, even though guided walks and game drives can be arranged with prior notice. Accommodation is available in the reserve, but can only accommodate twelve guests at a time in safari tents. Supplies can not be purchased on the reserve, and all the safari tents are self catering, as well as solar powered. However, accommodation can be booked outside of the reserve as well at one of the many farms and B&B’s scattered along the route.
Mountain bike trails and beautiful walks will be right up your alley if you are active by nature. As a word of caution though, the area is also the habitat of a very large number of reptiles, including the lethal Black Mamba, so tread carefully, and do not under any circumstances wander of the guided trails.