On most maps Zululand is the region North of the Tugela River bordering the coast, stretching as far as the Swazi Kingdom and Mozambican borders. In actual fact the area just below Swaziland and Mozambique stretching down to the St. Lucia Wetland game park is Tongaland, home grounds of the Matonga tribe. Generally, this entire region will be referred to as Zululand by most South Africans and is also labelled as the Malaria area of the country together with Swaziland and the Kruger National game park.
In reality the risk of contracting malaria is not as widespread as this. Malaria carrying mosquitoes only occur in the low lying (plains & valleys) parts of these areas, which excludes much of Zululand as well as most of Swaziland. Certainly the places most often visited by tourists are malaria free, despite a huge expansion in the range of this decease in the last 18 months. Tongaland however is certainly a high risk area, as is any low lying place with an established human population within a one kilometer radius of it. This does not included established urban settlements, as they have the correct measures in place to avoid malaria establishing itself.
What this means is that, despite the fact that places like St. Lucia town, Kwambonambi town, Mthubathuba town, Eshowe town and Richardsbay city are slap bang in the middle of Zululand, there is no risk of contracting malaria while staying overnight there.
Many other places are malaria free too, despite having malaria infected places close by to them. Most of the accommodation establishments inside the various game parks, are quite definitely free of malaria. The reason for this being that the people visiting (tourists) these cordoned off areas and working in them (KwaZulu Natal Nature Conservation Services staff) are not infected with malaria and therefore the local mosquito population are not infected with malaria. Remember that mosquitoes are not able to fly the 1km or more distance (often across a lake) to reach the neighbouring human population.
Therefore the brightly demarcated band of malaria area on maps of the Eastern side of Southern Africa, should in fact be pitted with pockets of malaria free places. But to keep things simple and because malaria carrying humans are settling closer and closer to these free places, the general advice is to take malaria precautions wherever you overnight in Zululand and any other low lying area.
Here are some points to be noted. The Anopheles Mosquito generally only bites after dark, it has been said only after 6pm at night for a few hours and again early in the morning before dawn. This means you are quite safe going on game drives or boat cruises during day light hours in known malaria infected places. Such as the lower lying tourist roads in the Zululand game parks and the boat cruises up the St. Lucia Estuary and even the main highway (the N2 ) up from Durban to Swaziland. The main tourist camps "Hilltop" and "Mphila", in the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Park, are at too high an altitude for you to be bitten by malaria carrying mosquitoes, so it is quite safe to stay there too.