Africa, known as the Dark Continent, is a destination filled with beauty and intrigue. It’s also a place of considerable biodiversity.
South Africa ranks as one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, after Indonesia and Brazil. It’s also recognized as one of the world’s most megadiverse countries, with at least 5 000 endemic plants and several fascinating marine ecosystems.
There are three main biodiversity hotspots worth exploring in South Africa:
Cape Floristic Region
The Western Cape’s incredibly diverse plant selection is a must-see during your visit to Cape Town.
The 78,000 km2 wonderland is one of five temperate Mediterranean-type biodiverse systems on Earth and is one of just two that incorporate an entire floral kingdom.
It’s home to six endemic bird species, most notably the orange-breasted sunbird, Cape sugarbird, the Cape siskin and the Protea canary.
Two endemic mammals call this place home, namely the endangered Van Zyl’s golden mole and the Fynbos golden mole. Five species of endemic South African tortoises occur almost exclusively within the Cape Floristic region, as well as sixteen endemic amphibians, and two amphibians that occur nowhere else.
Of course, plants are the main event in this gorgeous ecosystem which features 9 000 unique species, of which 6 200 of them are unique to South Africa. In addition, 160 endemic genera, and 12 endemic plant families occur on in this hotspot.
Of all these species, the Protea and red disa stand out as the most recognizable, and best-known. You can explore this biodiverse playground on walks and hikes in eight protected areas.
Six of South Africa’s eight major vegetation types occur in this stretch of land from southern Mozambique, through KZN, to the Eastern Cape. The sand forest ecosystem, five different grassland types, and six varieties of bushveld are unique to this area.
The subtropical thickets of this hotspot, which is a condensed forest ecosystem maintained by Cape buffalo, elephants, and black rhino are unique to Maputaland.
This forest houses almost 600 tree species, most of South Africa’s natural forests, boasting the highest tree diversity of the world’s temperate forests as well as most of the remaining wild black rhino in the world.
The Succulent Karoo Biome
This 116 000 km2 biodiversity destination is the world’s only arid hotspot boasting 6 356 plant species. Of these, 17% are listed in the Red Data Book, and 40% are endemic.
Almost 30% of the area’s 27 amphibians, 20% of the 121 reptile species, and 20% of the 68 mammal species are endemic.
This mind-boggling biodiversity stems from aeons of unique climatic conditions resulting in massive speciation of arid-adapted lifeforms.
Experience South Africa’s Biodiversity First-hand
The best part is that biodiversity is only one of the many things to enjoy in this diverse multi-cultural society. From city to city and shore to shore, South Africa is awash with interesting activities and attractions for every kind of traveller.
Get in touch and we’ll arrange a showcase of South Africa that’s as unique as the thousands of different species you’ll encounter here.