Malaria-Free Wildlife Safaris
Malaria is Africa's biggest killer, responsible for between 1 and 3 million fatalities annually - the vast majority within the poorer African communities living in malarial areas. Taking malarial prophylactics when visiting malaria regions is therefore essential to avoid turning your dream safari into a nightmare.
However, not all regions of South Africa are affected by malaria. With our increasing numbers of visitors who do not want to take malarial medication, many of whom are travelling with children, we have seen a growing demand for safaris to malaria-free wildlife reserves.
In South Africa, malaria-free reserves, game lodges and camps are found in two main regions - the Eastern Cape and the Waterberg Plateau.
Eastern Cape Reserves
For a family safari, the Eastern Cape is an excellent option, with a diverse selection of private reserves and national parks, combined with superb beaches, beautiful scenery and a wealth of activities. Many of the reserves offer "Big 5" safaris, and dolphins and Southern Right Whales* can be seen in coastal waters. (*between July and November)
Addo Elephant National Park
75kms from Port Elizabeth, in the Sunday's River region is Addo Elephant National Park, which houses a wide variety of animals, including the "Big 5", Great White sharks and Southern Right whales, in a superb variety of natural habitats. 170 different bird species have been recorded here. The 164,000 hectare park has both National Park self-catering accommodations, and luxury safari lodges.
Located 140kms east of Port Elizabeth on the Bushman's River, and just 10 minutes' drive from the golden beaches of Kenton-on-Sea, Kariega is a family-friendly "Big 5" reserve. There are 4 different lodges and children of all ages are welcome. Kariega offers the traditional game-viewing activities as well as river cruises, canoeing, fly-fishing, mountain biking, hiking and swimming. Horse riding and golf can be organised nearby.
Amakhala Game Reserve is 45 minutes' drive from Port Elizabeth, on the Bushman's River. There are 5 independently owned lodges on the reserve, and Amakhala offers a "Big 5" luxury safari experience, with bird watching safaris, bush walks, river cruises and canoe safaris. Children's programmes are available at certain lodges.
The 7,500hectare Lalibela Game Reserve is home to the Big 5, and all animals, including the predators, are free-roaming throughout the entire reserve. There are 3 lodges at Lalibela, and they offer an excellent children's safari programme.
Located 160km east of Port Elizabeth, this 25,000hectare reserve offers a luxurious "Big 5" safari experience in the Great Fish River region. Thousands of animals roam freely and 238 bird species have been recorded here. Safari activities include game drives, hiking, fishing, canoeing and rhino tracking. Limited activities for children.
This 20,000hectare private game reserve is located 45 minutes' drive east of Port Elizabeth. The reserve boasts five eco-systems, and supports many species of plants, animals and bird, including the "Big 5". Shamwari has six very different lodges and camps. Children of all ages are permitted, but only those over 7 years are allowed on game drives.
The Waterberg Reserves
The highveld Waterberg region of Limpopo, to the north and northwest of Johannesburg is one of South Africa's premier wildlife areas, and close to 6000sq km have been designated nature conservation areas.
Lapalala Wilderness Reserve
Located in the mountains of the Waterberg, 3½ hours drive from Johannesburg, Lapalala is one of the last remaining true wilderness areas in South Africa. This 36,000hectare private game reserve offers an unparalleled bush experience. Wildlife includes black and white rhinos, buffalo, leopard, zebras, blue wildebeests and several antelope species as well as hippos and crocodiles. There are five different accommodation options at Lapalala, all of which are self-catering.
Mabula Game Reserve
The 12,000hectare reserve is approximately 2 ½ hours drive from Johannesburg. Mabula is home to the "Big 5" as well as a wide range of other animals, including rhino, zebra, warthog, hippos, giraffe and various antelope species. 300 bird species are recorded here. The luxury thatched Mabula Lodge offers accommodation in 51 double rooms of which two cater for families
The 75,000 Madikwe Game Reserve lies in a unique location, a transition zone on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, on the Botswana border. Untamed, this bushland reserve is considered to be one of the finest conservation areas in Africa, and offers most mammal species, including the "Big 5". Luxury bush accommodation is offered in 9 different safari camps and lodges.
Marakele National Park
Marakele National Park is situated 250km north of Johannesburg in the Waterberg Mountains. The park is home to the Big 5, as well as cheetah, wild dog and hyena. Plains game includes kudu, sable, eland, impala and waterbuck. It also contains the largest colony of Cape Vultures in the world. Self-catering accommodation is available in the National Park tented camp overlooking the Apiesrivierpoort Dam.
Pilanesberg National Park
The 55,000hectare Pilanesberg Game Reserve is situated in the crater of an extinct volcano, bordering the entertainment resort of Sun City. The reserve is the 3rd largest in South Africa, and boasts an abundance of wildlife, including healthy populations of the "Big 5". Birding is excellent, with more than 300 species recorded here. Accommodation is offered in 3 luxury lodges and 2 self-catering resorts.