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Often many other travelers ask me about malaria on Lombok. Is there actually such a high malaria risk? Are there really so many mosquitoes and do I absolutely need malaria prophylaxis? What else do I have to take care about for my travel preparation?

All information about malaria on Lombok

Many people get put off by this and during their Indonesia trip they tend to avoid every place east of Bali, which is considered as a malaria area. I have to admit that before our first trip to Lombok and the Gili Islands we also had our concerns. After I have stayed overall more than 6 months on Lombok and the Gilis within the last 20 months, I wanna share my experiences with you and give answers to frequently asked questions…

Beforehand I can say that everything really isn’t that bad as it is written in almost every Lombok travel guide or many internet forums. But attention: I’m obviously no doctor and I don’t wanna play anything down, because malaria is indeed very serious!!! But when you keep certain things in mind, normally nothing should happen to you.

A mosquito on the human skin

Do I need malaria prophylaxis like Malarone for my trip to Lombok or the Gili Islands?

My advice is, you should basically better have Malarone with you, but ONLY as an emergency standby medication. I think you shouldn’t use it before and during your multi-week journey since it’s damn expensive in the first place and you would need more packs anyway. Furthermore, like almost from every drug, there are also side effects that may even become a little bit stronger in this case.

By the way, I haven’t opened my Malarone pack (which I took for our first long-term trip to Southeast Asia 2013) until today. As I said before, I think it’s not wrong to take a pack with you. But it’s also possible to go without, because in the worst case the next hospital in Mataram is reachable within 1 or 2 hours from almost every point of the Island (except you’re somewhere in or around the Rinjani National Park probably). At the end of the day, you have to decide for yourself.

What is the safest travel season and which areas are most dangerous?

Basically, it’s very simple: where it’s very hot and humid, there you will find many mosquitos! Hence, you can assume that it’s generally a little bit safer during the dry season than in the rainy season. The rainy season goes approximately from November until March. The worst months are Dezember and January where it rains like every day. Be careful especially during that time.

My experience is that you indeed notice the higher amount of mosquitos in the extremely hot and wet season and also at the end of the rainy season. In the driest months from July to September it’s noticeably colder and sometimes I didn’t even see one mosquito for days.

The areas that are least affected with malaria are the those at the west coast of Lombok. Also, the risk on the Gili Islands is really very low, according to the statement of locals. The bigger cities of Lombok and the area around them (Mataram, Cakranegara and Ampenan) are considered as malaria-free. So in these areas you don’t have to worry about anything.

Take care when you go further east to rural places or in the jungle, especially the region in and around Rinjani National Park.

Jungle and waterfall in Lombok, Indonesia
Especially in humid and jungle-like areas you should be careful

How can I protect myself?

Here are some general tips on how you can protect yourself best from these bastards. Because the best way not to get malaria is very simple: just don’t get bitten! 😉

  • Try to find an accommodation with AC and a mosquito net (carrying around your own mosquito net for hanging up is unnecessary in my opinion)
  • Preferably, wear bright and long clothes in the evening
  • Always use mosquito spray
  • In case your accommodation has a balcony or terrace, use mosquito coils. But don’t use it in enclosed spaces – you never know what kind of chemicals are inside these Indonesian coils!
  • I always buy “One Push Vape” in the Indomaret or Alfamart. It seems to work and it also smells good 😉

Bottom line

Don’t let yourself be discouraged by all the malaria discussions from planning a trip to Lombok! It really isn’t that bad as it often seems. As I mentioned before, I spent there many months on the island and even got bitten by mosquitos only a few times – to say nothing of malaria or dengue! There were many other places on our journeys across Southeast Asia that had much more mosquitos!

I also have to say that most of the time I lived in the Mataram city area. In some other places there were indeed some more mosquitos, especially where it’s more untouched and humid. But when you follow my tips, normally nothing should happen to you.

I have many friends living on Lombok or the Gili Islands and they even never heard of Malarone or something like that in their entire lives! Much less they could afford to buy it. And when a local doesn’t get malaria in 20 years, why YOU as a tourist should get it in 1 or 2 weeks? 😉

Photo 1 (Mosquito): ASCOM – Prefeitura de Votuporanga/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)