Many travelers have an African safari on their wish list but are put off by the health risks involved. It’s not so much a fear of being eaten by a rogue lion (although no one wants that!), but the very real threat of contracting malaria that keeps some at bay. Precautionary clothing and repellant sprays are often ineffective and antimalarial drugs can be ill-advised, especially for children, pregnant women or the elderly. Egads, some of those prophylactic pills have psychotropic side effects. Thankfully, there are several pockets in South Africa that are free of this mosquito-borne scourge. Bonus, these areas are also stunningly beautiful, ecologically diverse and home to the coveted Big Five, so you don’t have to compromise the caliber of your safari experience in order to avoid a malarial zone. It’s important to note that not all of South Africa is safe – a visit to popular Kruger National Park, for instance, requires antimalarials. However, here are 7 rustic to luxurious South African safari parks and game reserves where malaria is not a concern.
1. Markele National Park
Markele National Park is in the heart of the Waterberg region, the only designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in South Africa. It’s within a three hour drive from Johannesburg, making it a relatively accessible option. The name means “sanctuary” in the local Tswana language, and its a fitting moniker. Its savannas, mountains, valleys and bushveld are home to elephants, rhinos, kudu, big cats and birds. The world’s largest colony of endangered Cape vultures lives here. While it’s teeming with wildlife, it’s not overwrought with tourists. Consider this a rustic, no-frills safari option for intrepid travelers with their own vehicle. Two campsites provide a comfortable home base, but you’re otherwise on your own to explore the wilds of Africa.