Well the good news is that you don’t have to succumb to a course of Malaria tablets in order to see the Big 5 in South Africa unless of course you are hell-bent on going to Kruger National Park where I am afraid you absolutely must. You might ask why should I even bother to consider a Malaria-free safari but for any of you who are pregnant, unable to take malaria tablets, or perhaps travelling with elderly relatives or children it’s a real life-saver.
Spread out across South Africa are numerous top-rated safari parks which are Malaria-free. Here are some suggestions of where to stay on your trip of a lifetime to see the magnificent Big 5.
Prescription medicine is required to protect yourself from Malaria and usually has to be taken before, during and after your trip. You should always consult with your doctor for protection against Malaria as it will depend upon the duration of your trip, any previous adverse reactions to antimalarial tablets, allergies and medical history. If you are travelling to a high-risk area such as Kruger National Park always adhere to the advice given to you at your accommodation as insect nets and screens are normally provided but are only a deterrent against mosquitos.
Eastern Cape (Malaria Free Safaris)
There is an excellent choice of Malaria-Free Game Reserves in the Eastern Cape that have become very popular due to their easy accessibility via airports at Port Elizabeth or East London or visitors driving up from Cape Town.
Shamwari Game Reserve – is just 75km or about an hours drive outside of Port Elizabeth and has consistently been voted one of the leading safaris in the World. The very high standard of accommodation with plunge pools coupled with the experienced game rangers ensures visitors the trip of a lifetime. The reserve is 20,000 hectares in size and home to the Big 5 and Cheetah as well.(www.shamwari.com)
Pumba Private Game Reserve – is about 105km from Port Elizabeth near Alicedale in the Eastern Cape. Choose from a variety of luxurious lodges some of which overlook the water dam while others overlook straight out onto the bush and plains. If you are in a group of 4 they have family lodges that offer parents their own privacy whilst still being close enough to keep an eye on the teenagers. On our last trip there our ranger (Gladman) was super helpful and he even managed to locate a Leopard that had been on our ‘must-see’ list for a couple of years. Don’t forget to look out for the family of White Lions that they have there – amazing. (www.pumbagamereserve.co.za)
Amakhala Game Reserve – is 83km or about an hour and a half drive from Port Elizabeth. Amakhala has Fair Trade Certified Lodges and offer 3, 4 and 5 star owned managed experiences. The reserve is about 7,500 hectares in size and home to the Big 5, elephants and lots of different antelope, zebra and giraffe. They recently introduced Bed and Breakfast packages to compliment their accommodation offering to guests. (www.amakhala.co.za)
Kariega Game Reserve – is 128km from Port Elizabeth or an hour and three-quarter drive along the R72 route. The reserve is about 10,000 hectares in size and incorporates the pretty Kariega and Bushman’s Rivers. The location, along the Sunshine Coast route of South Africa is picturesque with River Lodge accommodation and views over the hills and valleys. Guests can also enjoy a boat-cruise to check out the abundant bird-life found on the reserve. Kariega is not far from the coastal seaside resorts of Kenton-on-Sea and Port Alfred. (www.kariega.co.za)
Kwandwe Private Game Reserve – located close to Grahamstown about 160km from Port Elizabeth Airport which takes approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes by car. If you really fancy living it up there is a daily flight from PE Airport that departs at 13h15 flying you directly to the Kwandwe Airstrip. The reserve is 22,000 hectares in size with luxurious accommodation spread across four small lodges that have a total of 22 rooms in total. (www.kwandwe.com)
North-West Province (Malaria Free Safaris)
Madikwe Game Reserve – although perhaps one of the lesser-known game reserves in South Africa Madikwe, in the extreme North-West corner, is currently the 5th largest in the country at about 75,000 hectares in size. The game reserve has a choice of 4 and 5 star accommodation in the form of Lodges and Camps suitable for couples, families and groups. This Big 5 game reserve borders the Limpopo Province and Botswana and is 323km from OR Tambo International Airport that is approximately a 5 hour drive. (www.madikewegamereserve.co.za)
Pilanesberg Game Reserve – lies adjacent to Sun City in the North-West Province and approximately a 2 hour drive from Johannesburg. This 55,000 hectare Malaria-Free National Park is home to the Big 5 and is set in the crater of a long extinct volcano. As well as a choice of luxury game lodges to choose from the park also offers hot-air balloon safaris for a truly magical safari experience. There are ocer 200km of tracks to explore through the park. (www.pilanesberggamereserve.com)
Limpopo Province (Malaria Free Safaris)
Welgevonden Game Reserve – lies just North of Johannesburg in an area known as the Waterberg Plateau and is about 37,500 hectares in size. Guest numbers are limited and no private vehicles are allowed in the reserve ensuring a very personal wildlife experience. As well as the traditional game drives through the park to see the Big 5 guests can now enjoy stargazing which can be booked through the Welgevonden Office – Tel: +27 (0)14 755 4392. Dotted throughout the park are numerous 5 star lodges offering guests luxurious safari accommodation. (www.welgevonden.org)
Kololo Game Reserve – borders onto and is part of the Big 5 Welgevonden Game Reserve in the heart of the Waterberg biosphere. Kololo Game Reserve is 3,000 hectares in size with its own private gate into the Welgevonden Reserve. There is a variety of accommodation options at Kololo for couples up to groups of 6. Some of the venues are tucked away in the bush and in the mornings you will often see Kudu and Bushbuck grazing close by. There is a restaurant at Kololo with a fireplace where you can sit and relax and read a book or enjoy a dip in the swimming pool just outside the front. Kololo is roughly 272km from OR Tambo International Airport which is about a 3 hour and 20 minute drive. (www.kololo.co.za)
Mabalingwe Nature Reserve – is a 12,500 hectare Big 5 Reserve that nestles in the shadows of the Waterberg Mountains close to Bela-Bela in Limpopo Province. There is a real variety of accommodation options from Caravan and Camping, Bush Camps, Self-Catering Lodges to Luxury Lodges. In addition to game drives guests can go horseback game-viewing, relax in the outdoor spa or swim in their cold and heated swimming pools. This game reserve is located 179km from OR Tambo International Airport which will take you about 2 hours and 11 minutes by car. (www.mabalingwe.co.za)