Etosha National Park

There appears to be on-going online debate as to the risk of malaria and related precautionary measures when visiting Etosha National Park. Here is a little breakdown of the main issues for your piece of mind before arrival at the park.

The general consensus would seem to agree that although using some form of repellent is always wise, the winter months are entirely malaria-free. After all, malaria mosquitos need water to breed, and you certainly won’t see much water around during Etosha’s bone dry winters.

However, most international health organisations advise taking some form of prophylaxis during the wetter months, roughly from November to June. This is really just to be on the safe side, with local doctors, guides and previous visitors to the park all agreed that the chances of catching malaria remain slim all year round. Recorded cases of the disease are few and far between. This is, in fact, true throughout most of the country, except in the northern Caprivi Strip region.

In terms of appropriate prophylaxes, Malarone is considered to be the best option for most visitors to Etosha who are not heading on towards areas such as Caprivi. Malarone is taken once daily, has fewer listed potential side effects than other pills and only needs to be taken for one day before entering a malaria zone and for only seven days after leaving again.

But for visitors due to spend extended time in malaria zones further north after leaving Etosha, you pay per pill for Malarone and it certainly isn’t cheap. Doxycycline and Lariam are much more affordable for longer periods, but bring a lot more potential side effects with them, and must be taken for some time both before entering and after leaving malaria risk areas. Whatever the case, always make sure to consult your GP before going to the park as this information may be subject to change.

Apart from all of this, it is always wise to adhere to a pretty universal set of basic bush rules when in areas with lots of mosquitos: wearing long sleeves and full-length pants after dusk and, again, always applying some form of repellent to any remaining exposed areas, particularly feet and ankles.