S Africa in August - would you take malaria tablets?

(45 Posts)
loobylolly Mon 20-Apr-09 13:00:04

We are going to S Africa in July (Cape Town & safari in Kruger), 2 kids aged 11 & 5. Malaria tablets are recommended.

However:
- I have had a bad experience with malaria tablets in the past
- apparently they are not 100% effective EVEN if you take the right type for the type of malaria (which seems a bit hit and miss)
- apparently not many mosquitoes around at this time of year anyway
- the tablets cost a fortune (£hundreds)
- one friend has said not to bother with tablets, just cover up and use repellent...

What would you do??

MollieO Mon 20-Apr-09 13:06:47

I thought they recommended that under 6 don't take malaria tablets (and therefore don't go to a malarial area). CT is fine but Kruger is a well known malarial area so malaria tablets are essential imo. Could you go somewhere else for the safari part?

MollieO Mon 20-Apr-09 13:08:51

According to this you might be okay without.

Just asked my DH (he's from SA). His answer was a resounding yes, because of the Kruger element of your holiday. Any time of the year, for Kruger. He says it's not necessary for Cape Town. (And indeed I didn't, when we went.)

BUT he isn't a doctor or anything, so suggests you contact the SA tourist board to check where is a 'malaria area'.

loobylolly Mon 20-Apr-09 13:31:05

Thanks both. Great link too thanks Mollie.

On balance I am leaning towards not bothering. Anyone been through the same thought process? What do people who live out there do?

silverfrog Mon 20-Apr-09 13:37:51

I would definitely take them if going to Kruger - a well known malarial area.

I used to live in Kenya, in Nairobi which is considered non-malarial, but we took anti-malarials when going on safari.

Even when going to non-malarial safari destinations (the MAra is considered mostly non-malarial iirc) we used to take precautions.

I would recommend Malarone as an effective anti malarial (check though, as this is a few years agao now) - it was also then one of the safest anti-malarials around. I believe they have brought out a children's version.

tbh, just covering up and using repellent will not cut it. unless you use a repelent with a high deet content - and I wouldn't want that anywhere near my children.

FAQinglovely Mon 20-Apr-09 13:45:16

If you're going to Kruger then yes take them - there was another student working in Zimbabwe when I was there who got Malaria and nearly died, after several weeks in hospital in Zimbabwe he was flown back to the UK where he spent months recovering. It wasn't pretty at all.

I'd seek proper advice as to which tablets to take - ones that are recommended in Kenya may not be recommended for SA because the strains are different.

MollieO that article clearly states that Kruger is a malaria risk park - it may be the dry season when the OP goes - but I wouldn't risk it personally.

silverfrog Mon 20-Apr-09 13:48:02

yes, def check re diff strains.

I wasn't very clear before, but malaronewas heralded as the best new thing for malaria regardless (told this by people in the know), but as I said, my info could easily be out of date.

malaria is really not something to take risks with - it is a horrible disease, and one that would be simple to protect against (even if expensive)

FAQinglovely Mon 20-Apr-09 13:48:27

I lived in Zimbabwe for 2 1/2yrs - didn't take them most of the time - except when travelling out of rural areas - and even then depending on which "urban" area I was I often took them then as well.

Personally, I really wouldn't want to risk anyone getting malaria ...

Best prevention is to spray the rooms, have nets to sleep under and cover up. The supermarkets also sell a plug-in anti-mozzie stuff ...

Ther is also a game park in the Cape, but I suppose the Kruger Park is the real deal ...

BlingDreaming Mon 20-Apr-09 13:51:24

I disagree with people here. You're gong to Kruger in the SA winter - so I'd say really, it's not necessary. Do take plenty of mosquito repellent etc etc but you should find that mosquitos will be few and far between, limiting the liklihood of malaria.

FAQinglovely Mon 20-Apr-09 14:06:24

bling - one thing I found while living in Africa was that someone often forgot to tell the little buggers (mozzies) that they're supposed to be few and far between during Winter (dryer months)

And it only takes one bite.

I had become a little complacent with my views on Malaria until this acquaintance of mine nearly died. He had cerebal malaria (more common in children)

crumpet Mon 20-Apr-09 14:10:13

If you are going to a malaria area, then you must take the malaria tablets - you really don't want to risk you or your kids getting it. Contraception is not 100% effective, but you'd be a bit silly not to bother with any if you didn't want to get pregnant.

There are malaria free areas which have game parks (google Pilanesberg), which would avoid the issue though - does it have to he Kruger?

BlingDreaming Mon 20-Apr-09 14:13:55

FAQ - I guess it's all about your perceptions of risk. With that experience, I can imagine why you're less keen.

In my experience, no one ever actually gets malaria during winter months - as kids we all went up to Kruger in winter holidays, friends and family still do etc etc.

One thing I would say - if you have "flu" after you've been anywhere near an area like that, go to a doctor immediately. I never understand people who don't make the connection. I knew a guy who spent a couple of weeks somewhere highly malaria likely and got sick but didn't go to the doctor. By the time he did, they put him in an ambulance and he died on the way to the hospital!

FAQinglovely Mon 20-Apr-09 14:16:16

Bling - did you grow up in SA then - I only ask as there is such thing as a natural immunity if you're bitten frequently by the little buggers over a number of years people do develop a natural resistance. Obviously it's lost if you then move away (hence DH taking malaria tablet when we went back to visit 3yrs ago).

AnnasBananas Mon 20-Apr-09 14:16:50

Take the anti-malarials. They are expensive but that's life, it will be an expensive holiday already without them.

Malaria is for life. Our friend who caught malaria a few years ago still has serious relapses.

You could make the decision for yourself not to take then, but IMHO you have to make sure the children take them, that is your parental responsibility.

FAQinglovely Mon 20-Apr-09 14:19:41

btw OP - I'm ery envy of you going to Cape Town - spent amazing Christmas/New Year there just over 11yrs ago <<<<<<sigh>>>>>>>>

BlingDreaming Mon 20-Apr-09 14:46:03

I did - but in cape town so completely malaria free area so would have taken malaria tablets while visiting Kruger in the summer time. We just didn't bother in the winter.

loobylolly Mon 20-Apr-09 14:49:58

Very interesting thank you. I will look up Malarone and do some more research as to exactly what is recommended for Kruger. (Thanks to those who mentioned safari possibilities elsewhere in SA, however we have absolutely set our hearts on Kruger...)

I'm surprised that only Bling thinks no need to bother and everyone else says take them, was expecting a more even split! There are lots more people out there on the internet also saying it's really not necessary in SA winter, but it's interesting to hear other views of the risk.

Can you buy e.g. Malarone OTC in SA? Traveldoctor suggests starting 2 days before travelling to the endemic area, as we have a week in CT first that would be fine...

(By the way if anyone wants to throw in any recommendations for restaurants or things to do with kids in CT / Hermanus, they would be most welcome!)

BlingDreaming Mon 20-Apr-09 14:58:37

Ooh - that would be interesting. If you only have to start in Cape Town, go into a pharmacy there and ask advice. That could be an interesting experiment! grin

I have a thread somewhere with my long obsessive helpful suggestions. I'll track it down...

silverfrog Mon 20-Apr-09 15:21:24

don't know about the availability OTC of malarone, but that was why we liked it - no long lead-in periods, or continuing for 6 weeks after etc, just take it when you need it.

MollieO Mon 20-Apr-09 15:31:20

Personally I wouldn't take a 5 yr old on safari. Have you checked that you are actually allowed to take him/her? They get bored pretty easily at that age and may not have the patience to stay still and quiet.

If I were you I'd go to Addo at Port Elizabeth or a game park like Rhino base camp. I did this with my ds when he was 2.5 and it was fine as it was only an afternoon and they allowed children of any age (provided you thought they would be quiet enough).

BlingDreaming Mon 20-Apr-09 15:36:44

try this link for lots of cape town ideas.

The key thing you need to bear in mind is that it will be wet and fairly cold (it never gets super cold) in Cape Town in August. Probably. So things like beach trips etc are out. You can still visit the penguins at Boulders and the like, but you're unlikely to want to picnic there.

At the Waterfront is also the ScratchPatch which I believe is inside these days (used to be outside) and can be hours of endless entertainment for kids as they dig out stones that appeal to them for whatever reason. here

Most restaurants that you just stumble over will be kiddy friendly. Good options include Ocean Basket which is a chain of cheap and cheeful fish places where the food is generally excellent, they're highly accessible, and they have no problems with children around. "smarter" restaurants will be less child friendly so if you want a good meal out in the evening and want to take the kids, ask your hotel/B&B for recommendations. Broadly speaking the Waterfront and most beach places (excluding the highly glamourous Camps Bay) are pretty kid friendly.

Dischem are a large chain of discount pharmacists in SA who should be able to answer your questions about the availability of Malarone ... www.dischem.co.za

Hermanus in the Cape will be great - it is the time when the whales are in the bay .. so very envy ....

MollieO Mon 20-Apr-09 15:50:29

We are off to CT and Plett in October. We've been to Plett before but not CT so very helpful to have child friendly stuff to do!

FAQinglovely Mon 20-Apr-09 15:51:27

MolliO are you kidding?

We took DS1 and 2 on safari when we went back to Zim 3yrs ago - they were 5 and 2 and LOVED it!

BlingDreaming Mon 20-Apr-09 15:52:45

MolliO - OCtober is the best time in the world in cape town. Honestly. It will be so beautiful and not too hot and gorgeous. I love October/early November and am now seriously envy that I haven't been there at that time of year in many many years.

Louise2004 Mon 20-Apr-09 16:05:42

I haven't read all the replies, so apologies if I'm repeating anything...

We went to Kenya during a "low risk" season but took malaria tablets (we went on safari and to the beach). Our ds was 5 and he also took them. When we arrived our friends took us to the chemist to buy some malaria cure tablets, which aren't available easily outside of Africa, in case we caught malaria after leaving (we watched any cold/flu symptoms for six months after coming back).

I've travelled all over the world and have never taken any extra medication but we did this time as a friend of my brother's caught malaria on his year out and it was awful (he's all OK now, thank goodness) - it didn't seem worth the risk.

You can buy the tablets there on arrival if you don't start taking them beforehand - just speak to a friend or go to a good chemist/pharmacy for advice.

Have a great trip!

MollieO Mon 20-Apr-09 16:09:42

FAQ no. My ds will be 5 and at least in SA it is very hard to find anywhere that permits children of that age to go on safari. Of course Zim may be different.

Bling we are lucky that ds gets two weeks for October half term. Can't wait to go as we had such a lovely time visiting SA before although we've never been to CT.

loobylolly Mon 20-Apr-09 16:10:00

Thanks for the pharmacy info Fleshwound, will contact them.

And thanks for your link Bling, looks great, will peruse at leisure with a glass of wine later!

5yo is desperate to go on safari and can't wait, is v. good at sitting quietly, yes they are allowed and I am confidently expecting it to be a fabulous holiday for the whole family. Safari camp has lots of special stuff for kids too so they will be well occupied when not chasing lions!

loobylolly Mon 20-Apr-09 16:18:19

Thanks Louise, good to know we can get the tablets on arrival.

Mollie I spoke to several tour operators in SA about our itinerary before we picked the best, all of them suggested various options for safari and none mentioned an age limit. On the contrary, most suggested particularly family-friendly camps with extra kids activities. We're staying at Londolozi Varty Camp and Ngala grin

BlingDreaming Mon 20-Apr-09 16:23:58

I think some companies even do "kids safaris" - dumbing it down for them etc. I think the main challenge with children is that they can get bored looking at lions for hours, but if you've got a guide who is understanding, it should be fine. And kids are likely to be interested in the ridiculous little details i'm not - we LOVED being shown spoor in the wild <cue lots of childish giggling about animal poos>, hearing stories about the animal types etc.

prettybird Mon 20-Apr-09 16:28:35

I'm pretty sure we have bought Malarone OTC in SA, when I managed to lose some of our prescription on one trip. Think it was also cheaper than in the UK.

If you do buy in the UK, ring around for the best price. Our usual chemist charged more than double the other local chemist (£90 instead of £40 for the adult prescitpion - but was ever so slightly cheaper for the paediatric malarone). Guess which chemist we now avoid!

I would definitely take malarial tablets if you are going to the Kruger. Previously, in winter I owuld only have done so for the camps above Olifants, but I have been told that the malarial risk is now higher throughout the year and even at the southern camps. (something to do with a greater number of illegal immigriants coming through the park and also lower immunities 'cos of the prevalence of AIDS, so there is a greater pool of malaria carriers).

Are yuo going to the Kruger proper or to one of the adjoining private reserves? If it is the Kruger, then, to address MollieO's concern, it is self drive, so you can take children of any age. You are in your own car and can control how long you spend driving about according to your kids' attention span.

Ds has now been 3 times: first time when he was just 13 months old (0bviously, more for his mum and Dad than for him! wink), second time when he was 4 years old, which he really enjoyed and then last year, when he was 8, so he is now an old hand.

Whereabouts will you be staying in the Kruger?

prettybird Mon 20-Apr-09 16:34:04

I see you are going up-market! We've stayed at a cmap close to Ngala (Exeter), but not with ds (stayed there for our honeymoon and then again last year for our 10th wedding anniversary - but ds instead spent a couple of "quality time" with his great aunt winkwink - but we had just all spent 3 days in the Kruger itself and had a fantastic time).

We're going to go back in 2 years time for my 50th and treat members of the family and friends (we've started saving hmm)

As long as the camps know you have kids, you should be fine. I think they will both abosultely love it.

MollieO Mon 20-Apr-09 19:03:19

<shuffles off to do more research on kids safaris>smile

loobylolly Mon 20-Apr-09 20:51:17

Thanks Prettybird - v. interesting that the risk is now higher throughout the year. We will take the tablets. (Have googled Exeter and it looks gorgeous by the way!)

Mollie just in case it's of any use, we went with Rhino Africa in the end (Bianca Johnstone) - I don't have any affiliation with them other than as a customer - she was really excellent. I just gave her a list of all our requirements, she made various suggestions with pros and cons and kept tweaking until we were happy. I think they get good rates etc too so no more expensive than booking directly. And I know she knows plenty of child friendly safari camps!

elliott Mon 20-Apr-09 21:15:27

Ooh this is interesting! I'm taking the family to Eastern Cape in August - we are sticking to non-malarial areas though, just a few days in Addo I think. Does anyone have any ideas or recommendations for camps there?

BlingDreaming Tue 21-Apr-09 11:09:52

Why the Eastern Cape? it's not the standard tourism spot. I went to uni there so have fond memories and think it's underated, but except for Addo and the parks around there, it's not so well known.

Do you have specific plans? Beach areas in Kenton/Port Alfred (north of Port Elizabeth) are lovely. Further South, Plettenberg Bay/Knysna etc are all good (although technically still Western Cape).

elliott Tue 21-Apr-09 14:29:17

bling, the primary motivation is to see an old family friend who I lived with 25 years ago in Zimbabwe who now lives in a small town in the Eastern Cape (inland from East London). When I started researching the area it looked perfect for a family holiday. We're flying to PE and that will be our most westerly destination - we'll be staying for about a week in Kenton, having a few days inland in the mountains and visiting my friend and then a few days at the end seeing animals. Haven't managed to find a final destination near addo for the safari bit yet - don't want to spend the earth but do want to be comfortable! The boys are 7 and 5 and will be happy with whatever animals they see I think - so I don't want to spend loads on an upmarked safari experience that will be wasted on them (we'll do that in 5 years time...!)

BlingDreaming Tue 21-Apr-09 14:40:51

what town? Is it Grahamstown? [it's where the university and schools are - so quite popular]

There are some game farms around there, I just don't know them. A google search for games farms eastern cape might work? I'd say most SA safari type experiences are good at providing kid friendly advice. Or ask one of the tour operators already recommended on this thread?

elliott Tue 21-Apr-09 14:49:41

No but we are hoping to visit Grahamstown, it looks interesting. Its a little one horse town kind of place (I imagine, I've not been there yet!) called Cathcart.
yes game farms would probably do the trick. i was hoping the place we're staying at Kenton would be able to help us out - I'm sure they'll be able to book us day trips while we are there - but I feel I need to book something in advance for the last couple of nights.

Where were you at uni? at grahamstown?
Anywhere else you think is worth a visit in that area?

BlingDreaming Tue 21-Apr-09 15:16:53

It's near Grahamstown I think? Yes, very small one horse town! grin

Yes, was at uni at Grahamstown. I loved it. But I have to admit that as cool tourist spot goes, not high on my list. I think Kenton and then visiting your friend will be great - and in E Cape towns having friends is great because they'll all have big gardens and you can let the LOs run around wildly thinking they're exploring the African bush while really they're just hanging around in the back garden! grin

loobylolly Thu 23-Apr-09 19:59:38

In case this might be useful to anyone else - I emailed Dis-Chem (thanks Fleshwound) who confirmed that Malarone is the recommended anti-malarial for the Kruger, it is recommended year round (yes well they would say that I suppose), not available OTC, a prescription is required from a SA-regd. dr. - but in any event their prices are 30% higher than Boots online for the adult prescription and 60% higher for the paediatric dose! (I would have put quite a lot of money on it being much cheaper out there so that shows my grasp of economics..!!)

I'm v. keen to hear any up to date restaurant recommendations for Cape Town if anyone has any opinions on this topic...

BlingDreaming Fri 24-Apr-09 09:19:28

The rand is strengthening at the moment. so things they had to pay for in foreign currency (and I could be wrong but I'm guessing malarone is one) are probably more expensive suddenly as they had to pay say R100 to get £6 of drugs but those £6 of drugs now are only actually the equivalent of R90 or whatever.

You will find that while it is still cheap, it is not as cheap as it was a few months ago.

Although by August, depending on what happens with Zuma it could be back to being cheap as chips..!

fymmumoftwo Fri 24-Apr-09 09:34:34

what about here instead of the Kruger?? pilanesberggamereserve.com/index.html

better for small children (and people on shrter holidays) its a very much smaller park than the Kruger BUT you can see all the wildlife in a smaller area (so you see more things more quickly).

Two other plus points - it's not malarial (well is wasn't 10 years ago when we went) and it's near to Sun City so you can do the water park there at the same time!

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