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The map below, and accompanying key, depict southern Africa's major biomes (or vegetation types), examples of the mammal species that they support, and the major National Parks that fall within each biome.

Safari eco-map - Eco Map | Southern African Safaris | Classic Africa


Mixed Woodland
Dry Woodland
Moist Woodland
Brachystegia (Miombo)
Kalahari Savanna Highveld Grassland Namib Desert Karoo Shrubland
(incl. Kaokoland)
Afro-Montane Forest
Coastal and Montane


Species Supported and Example Parks 


Mixed Woodland
Type of savanna characterised by relatively short trees, including Acacia and broad-leaved species. Also referred to as bushveld. Generally occurring at altitudes below 1 500 m, it includes much of the lowveld. Wide diversity of species, but few are restricted to this biome.
Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Kudu, Nyala, Black Rhino, White Rhino, Lilac Breasted Roller (Kruger, Madikwe, Phinda, Welgevonden, Gonarezhou)
Dry Woodland
Dominated by Mopane trees and shrubs and is typical of low-lying areas and river valleys below 1 000 m. Baobab trees are often common in this type of savanna. Soils are usually clay based and seasonal pans are a feature. Wide diversity of species, but few are restricted to this biome.
Elephant, Lion, Black Rhino, Spotted Hyaena, Wild Dog, Buffalo, Hippo, Bateleur (Chobe, Moremi, Hwange,  Mana Pools, Matusadona, Lower Zambezi, Etosha,)
Moist Woodland
Also known as Miombo, this savanna type is dominated by Brachystegia and Julbernardia trees which often form a closed canopy. Occurs above 1 000 m. Does not support great numbers of large mammals, but several species of birds are restricted to this biome.
Sable, Roan, Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Miombo Rock Thrush, Spotted Creeper (Kafue, North and South Luangwa, Matobo, Chimanimanti, Kaudom)
Kalahari Savanna
Very open terrain dominated by grassland with scattered trees and shrubs. Very deep sands underlie the vegetation. Occurs below 1 000 m and receives less than 400 mm rain per annum. Fossil dunes, dry river valleys and salt pans. No surface water. Hyphaene palms in the north.
Gemsbok, Springbok, Eland, Cheetah, Lion, Brown Hyaena, Suricate, Ostrich (Central Kalahari, Makgadikgadi, Nxai Pan, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park,)
Highveld Grassland
Flat or hilly areas largely devoid of trees except along water courses. Dominant vegetation type at altitudes above 1500 m. Cold dry winters render this biome particularly prone to fire and frost which prohibit the growth of most trees.
Black Wildebeest, White Rhino, Blesbok, Steenbok, Aardwolf, Cape Griffon, Blue Crane (Malalotja, Suikerbosrand, Wakkerstroom)
Karoo Shrubland
Semi-desert, mostly below 1 000 m in the dry west. Dominated by shrubs, grasses and succulents. Rugged in parts, with canyons and valleys. Few perennial rivers. Many species are restricted to this zone. Includes Kaokoland, Damaraland, Richtersveld and Namaqualand.
Springbok, Black Rhino, Bateared Fox, Ground Squirrel, Ludwig's Bustard (Kaokoveld, Damaraland, Cederberg, Augrabies, Richtersveld)
Namib Desert
Occurs along the western seaboard north of the Orange River, below 400 m. Exceptionally arid climate (less than 100 mm per annum) creates a true desert with giant sand dunes and succulent flora. Many species are restricted to this biome including the living fossil plant Welwitschia.
Gemsbok, Blackbacked Jackal, Brown Hyaena, Springbok, Cape Fur Seal, Ruppell's Korhaan (Namib-Naukluft, Skeleton Coast)
Grassland and heath above 1 500 m and up to 3 000 m. Mostly along the crest of the Drakensberg. Rugged countryside with erratic but generally high rainfall. Several species are restricted to this biome in southern Africa, but also occur in the Rift Valley and Ethiopian Highlands
Eland, Klipspringer, Bearded Vulture, Ground Woodpecker (Giant's Castle, Golden Gate, Royal Natal, Mulanje, Nyika)
Dominated by large evergreen trees, forests contain few mammals but many birds. Coastal and lowland forests occur along the eastern seaboard, while montane forest occurs in pockets about 1 200 m. High rainfall is a feature. Only small fragments of true closed-canopy forest remain.
Blue Duiker, Samango Monkey, Narina Trogon, Green Twinspot (Tstitsikama, Dwesa, Maputaland)
Restricted to the south-western Cape, and one of the world's six floral kingdoms. Generally hilly or mountainous country, dominate d by proteas, heaths, restios and bulbous plants. Receives rainfall in winter only. A great number of species are restricted to this zone.
Cape Grysbok, Bontebok, Cape Sugarbird, Protea Seedeater, Geometric Tortoise (Cape Point, Table Mountain)

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