Dreaming of an African safari but worried about the risk of malaria?

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or planning your first safari, we want to ensure you have all the information you need to stay safe and have the time of your life.

Read on for everything you need to know about where the risks are highest and how to protect yourself and your loved ones without sacrificing your experience. We’ve also rounded up some of the best malaria-free spots for the ultimate safari adventure.



When is peak malaria season in Africa?

That depends on the country you’re visiting, but the peak malaria season usually occurs during and directly after each country’s rainy season, generally spanning from November to April in most regions. The risk extends from September to May in some parts of South Africa (particularly the northeastern regions). Both Namibia and Botswana experience their malaria season from November to June. Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania also see heightened malaria transmission around the rainy periods, from March to May and November to December.

Can you still get malaria even if traveling outside of peak season?

While the risk is low, yes, you can. It’s always best to take precautions.

How can I protect myself and my family from malaria?

Experts recommend using mosquito repellent and mosquito nets, covering up as much of your skin as possible with clothing, and minimizing outdoor activities after dusk and at dawn. Your accommodation also matters – ideally, you should stay in screened and/or air-conditioned rooms with mosquito nets.

Additionally, you can take anti-malaria medication if your doctor advises you to do so. Start the recommended medication before traveling, take it during your trip, and continue for a prescribed period after your return.

You also need to educate yourself on the symptoms so you can seek medical attention if necessary. Usually, symptoms present between one and two weeks after a mosquito carrying the disease bites you. Symptoms include fever, chills, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and body aches.



Africa’s best malaria-free national parks and reserves

Ultimately, the best way to ensure peace of mind regarding malaria is to go on safari in a malaria-free national park or reserve. There are plenty of these, especially if you visit South Africa. Here are a few of GILTEDGE’s go-tos.

Tswalu Kalahari Private Wildlife Reserve – Northern Cape

Part of the Diamond Route (comprising eight different conservation and heritage properties in South Africa and Botswana), Tswalu is the largest privately owned game reserve in South Africa, covering over 111,000 hectares. Despite its size, it promises an exclusive, peaceful safari experience, welcoming a maximum of 40 guests in just three safari camps. It’s home to four of the Big 5, with the exception of elephants, and is celebrated for its conservation work focused on protecting the Kalahari’s biodiversity.



Madikwe Game Reserve – North West

Located near the Botswana border, Madikwe Game Reserve is the fifth-largest game reserve in South Africa and known for its community upliftment initiatives (there are various community lodges owned and run by local people inside the reserve) – perfect for travelers looking to travel with a purpose. Here, you can admire every member of the Big 5 without competing with crowds – no day visitors are allowed, ensuring unmatched exclusivity.

Shamwari Private Game Reserve – Eastern Cape

Shamwari is a top choice for luxury safaris deeply rooted in nature, boasting seven five-star lodges and three different education and rehabilitation facilities. The reserve offers all-inclusive safari packages and is popular among couples and families alike, promising special experiences for children, including ziplining, an adventure slide, and fun in the treetops (kids can walk between treehouses on suspended walkways). Wildlife lovers can look forward to spotting the Big Five and various rare animals, like the southeast African cheetah.

Pilanesberg National Park – North West

Another Big 5 national park (and also celebrated for its diversity of birds – over 360 species in total), the Pilanesberg National Park is another malaria-free favorite. But what makes this safari mainstay so special? It’s set within the crater of an ancient volcano, promising views unlike any other. Plus, the park is just a stone’s throw away from South Africa’s best-known entertainment hub: Sun City. A perfect pick for anyone keen on a combo vacation that’s equal parts restful and exhilarating.



Addo Elephant Park – Eastern Cape

Just like the enormous mammals it’s most famous for, Addo Elephant Park is a giant in the safari world. It’s South Africa’s third largest national park and home not only to the Big 5 but to the Big 7: the elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhinoceros, Southern right whale, and great white shark. It has a mix of rustic retreats and ultra-luxurious lodges to suit your preferences and allows for both self-drive and guided safaris.

READ RELATED CONTENT: Travel with a Purpose: 13 Pioneers of Sustainable Travel in Africa

Other malaria-free safari destinations in Africa


Aside from its northern and northeastern reaches, Namibia is a southern African country with notably low malaria rates, making it a top choice for a malaria-free safari. Most of its national parks and reserves are malaria-free, with Etosha National Park and Namib-Naukluft National Park being the most popular. Etosha is one of the biggest national parks in Africa and is chock-full of extraordinary wildlife, including the rare black-faced impala. Namib-Naukluft National Park is even bigger – officially the largest of its kind on the continent. It covers an area of 19,216 square miles and is situated between the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and the edge of the Great Escarpment. It’s also where you’ll find the iconic Sossusvlei, a clay pan surrounded by dunes.



READ RELATED CONTENT: Visit Namibia: Our Top 10 Dreamiest Luxury Lodges


While there’s a low risk of malaria in most regions of Tanzania, it’s advisable to take precautions just to be safe. No national parks or reserves claim to be malaria-free, but parks like the Serengeti National Park and Arusha National Park are extremely low-risk options. The Serengeti National Park is where you can watch the Greatest Show in the World play out – the Great Migration, where hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra endure the arduous trek to the plains of the Masai Mara in Kenya in search of greener pastures. Arusha National Park is smaller and offers a quieter, more intimate safari experience.

READ RELATED CONTENT: Chasing the herds: A Great Migration mobile safari


The risk of malaria in Botswana is primarily in the northern regions, with less risk in the southern parts of the country. Most of Botswana’s national parks and reserves are located in areas with a seasonal risk of malaria (November to April). However, some parks and reserves may have a relatively lower risk, especially during the dry season (May to October). Examples include the arid Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (which also extends into South Africa), where the lower availability of water sources can lead to a reduced mosquito population.


Higher altitude areas generally have a lower risk of malaria in Kenya. Aberdare National Park (known for its beautiful waterfalls) and Mount Kenya National Park (home to Mount Kenya, Africa’s second highest mountain) are at higher altitudes and have a cooler climate. However, it’s always best to take precautions.



READ RELATED CONTENT: Kenya’s Top 5 Parks & Reserves

There you have it — a practical guide to keeping your African safari malaria-free. We’ve covered everything from the best times to travel to how to protect yourself from mosquitoes, and we’ve introduced you to some fantastic malaria-free destinations. After all, going on a safari is all about enjoying Africa’s incredible sights and sounds without unnecessary stress.

If you’re looking for more advice or need help planning your trip, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Team GILTEDGE. We’re experts in crafting safari experiences that are safe, memorable, and tailored to your interests. Your peace of mind is our priority.