South African Safari. – Cheapflights asked me about South African malaria free safari destinations.
Legend has it the Fever Tree got its name due to growing where malaria is most prevalent. Early day settlers traversing the land often camped under their generous canopy of shade next to rivers and streams, unaware that when they fell ill, it was not the tree but the mosquito that was to blame.
Moving forward to an era with a greater understanding of malaria, the trees now thrive in protected forests and prophylactics and insect repellents offer protection against the disease. That said, some visitors to South Africa may opt to avoid malaria areas altogether – a consideration among pregnant women and families with young children, especially.
If you’re one of them, South Africa offers these wonderful malaria-free safari destinations that hold no compromise (remember, the Cheapflights website can help to you get there).
White Elephant Safari Lodge, Pongola KwaZulu Natal
White Elephant Safari Lodge is about 3,5 hours north of Durban in the Pongola Game Reserve and offers incredible views of the Lebombo Mountains and Lake Jozini. A destination born of a family’s passion for conservation, they offer a superb black rhino tracking experience, as well as a fascinating elephant research-monitoring program.
What makes White Elephant a unique safari destination is the combination of conventional activities such as game drives and bush walks, matched with tranquil boat cruises on Lake Jozini, where you can do bird watching and game viewing from the water – a truly special experience. Game viewing is excellent with elephant, black and white rhino, buffalo, giraffe, hippo, crocodiles, zebra, loads of plains game and warthogs.
The old farm house lodge captures the history and romance of a bygone era with deep verandahs, sweeping views and green lawns around the pool and boma area. Accommodation is in eight luxury Hemingway style safari tents, each with a romantic ball and call bath, outdoor canvas shower and private deck from which to take in evocative Africa. The bush camp is a more relaxed self-catering escape with seven spacious thatched en-suite chalets with quality fittings and an open plan kitchen, lounge and swimming pool. Perfect for family groups or for those watching their budget.
The food is fabulous, hospitality tops and you’ll constantly be tempted with a treat, be it of the experience or culinary nature. At the Safari lodge on the day of departure the wonderful Zulu team sing and dance, wishing safe travels and a speedy return.
Bushmans Kloof, Cederberg
Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat is a sought after place to visit. Not only does this exclusive 16 room en suite boutique lodge offer all the opulent luxury you could ever hope for, it’s in a remote and pristine natural wilderness three hours north of Cape Town, that astounds with its dramatic vistas.
A stay here encompasses time around the homestead with its bar, wine cellar, restaurant, terrace and two lounges that invite you to make yourself at home. On chilly nights snuggle up to the fireplace with a glass of carefully selected red wine in your hand. And for hot summer days there are four pools to enjoy – one is even heated. Visit the fascinating heritage centre, spa and fitness centre and immerse yourself into open dining in Makana after dark.
Yet as much as the lodge will delight, it’s the 7,500 hectares of pristine Cederberg wilderness that is the true hero. The rock art, game drives, sundowners on the plains between the carpet of tiny flowers, the opportunity to be close to nature, the big skies – and if you’re lucky, the full moon.
Beyond the obvious and the beauty, here is a strong sense of community, a commitment to nature and dedication to conservation with a focus on the cape leopard and annual cedar tree planting. It’s easy to see why Bushman’s Kloof is regularly voted one of the top resorts in Africa.
Mhondoro Safari Lodge, Welgevonden Game Reserve
The 35,000 hectare malaria-free Welgevonden Game Reserve is located a three hour drive from Johannesburg and is commitment to conservation by returning the land from patchwork farming to its original bushveldt state. Here the passionate rangers guide you through early morning and late afternoon game drives, as you search for Africa’s Big 5 and the highly endangered white rhino, which is protected by their renowned anti-poaching unit.
The main lodge is masterfully styled with a mix of African-meets-European contemporary décor. You’ll seriously want to live here – or at least redecorate once you’ve been. The culinary focus is on healthy living and the chefs grow all they can and masterfully create enticing dishes to be enjoyed on the deck overlooking the game rich landscape.
There are Executive, Deluxe and Family Suites, as well as a Villa which is perfect for family groups. The Honeymoon Suite is a secluded standalone unit with private viewing deck, a heated pool and daybed, ideal for leisurely afternoon naps. Other facilities include a gym, infrared sauna, star deck and unique underground hide that is connected to the main lodge through a 65 metre reinforced concrete tunnel that allows eye-to-eye encounters with wildlife at the waterhole.
Here it’s the chacma baboons at play on the water’s edge, the dazzle of zebra you’ll spot from your suite, the elephant who regularly visits to drink from the pool and the welcoming team, that will win your heart and have you returning for more.
Samara Private Nature Reserve, Karoo
Located on 70,000 hectares of wilderness in the Great Karoo, in the heart of the plains of the Camdeboo and only 270 kilometres from Port Elizabeth and 53 kilometres from the nearest town of Graaff Reinet, Samara Private Nature Reserve offers easy access for visitors via excellent roads.
The abundant land, which has been allowed to rest over a period of 20 years, preserves a complex and diverse ecosystem. Four vegetation biomes provide habitat for over 60 mammal species, including the illusive aardvark, Cape mountain zebra, giraffe, black and white rhino, buffalo, eland, gemsbok and cheetah… to name but a few.
Family activities include game drives, exciting walking safaris, cheetah and rhino tracking, as well as picnics in the bush. Much emphasis is placed on the little things here, with the lesser known species celebrated for their contribution to the reserve.
The accommodation is in keeping with a traditional Karoo-style farmhouse, with various options to suit your needs. The Lodge Suites in The Karoo Lodge and standalone Karoo Suites can accommodate families of up to five, while the elegant Manor House has four rooms, accommodating larger groups or families and can be booked exclusively.
The reserve is beautiful and it’s heartwarming to see an area where wildlife roams freely again. A nature lover’s paradise with big skies and open plains that brings to focus man’s relationship with the earth.
Gondwana Game Reserve, Greater Kruger National Park
We have visionary conservationists Mark and Wendy Rutherfoord to thank for the 11,000 hectares Gondwana Game Reserve just inland of Mossel Bay on the Cape’s Garden Route. They have helped transform the reserve into a free roaming Big 5 wonderland. Taking years to regenerate the land from farm use back to natural indigenous fynbos, the team steadily introduced over 20 species of game including hippo, cheetah, kudu, eland, elephant, red hartebeest, lion, giraffe and the rare and endangered black and white rhino.
These were the first black rhino in the Western Cape for over a century and they joined the grey rhebok, bush buck and smaller animals like aardvark, bush pig, African wild cat, caracal, and greysbok already resident on the property. The reintroduced game was allowed time to acclimatise whilst lodges were built on carved shelves of land overlooking endless views across the hills.
Luxury accommodation is offered in Kwena Lodge, a modern and luxurious twist on the traditional Khoi-San dwelling with the 14 open-plan suites set into natural surroundings with 180-degree views, sky lights for star gazing, fireplaces and deep baths in which to relax upon returning from an evening game drive. Should you prefer more privacy, family or group accommodation is provided in the 12 spacious and luxurious bush villas that are scattered around the reserve.
Should you want a more in-depth safari experience, their recently launched five-day Tented Eco Camp packages allow you to take lessons in conservation, wildlife and veld management, learn important bush skills and interpretation, as well as volunteer with the local community. It’s a new way to truly feel the African bushveld.
The Essential Details
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