Hippos are a huge draw for people when visiting Africa on luxury safaris and we’re not surprised. These huge animals are even bigger up close than one imagines, and although they look adorable they are responsible for the largest number of deaths in Africa – adding that little bit of danger to their appeal. You will be surprised to hear that you do not find hippo everywhere in Africa as they need certain conditions to live in. They make a haunting loud laughing noise, which will soon ring in your ears when standing gazing down at a hippo pool and a group of hippos is called a pod. Males fight to the death for good territory in rivers and lakes and baby hippos playing together is possibly one of the most endearing sights in the world.
The Kikuyu tribe in Kenya believe that the hippo was originally meant as a forest and plain dwelling creature, but he became greedy and grew fatter and fatter until he could no longer handle the heat of the equatorial sun – he would gaze longingly as the fish in the pools and rivers and envied them their cool home. Eventually the hippo begged God to let him live in the water – God said no, he loved the fish and didn’t want the fish to get eaten. The poor hippo suffered on until God took pity on him and decided to strike a deal – “How will you prove to me that you are not eating the fish?” God said.
The hippo replied, “I will lie in the pool by day, and graze and browse on the land by night – I will scatter my dung with my tail and you will be able to see that I have only eaten grass.” And so the hippo was allowed to live out his days in the cool clear waters of Africa’s pools and lakes.
Here are our top 3 safari spots to see hippo:
1. Katavi National Park – Western Tanzania
Not only is this amazing park crowded with hippos, but it’s also one of the most unique safari destinations in all of Africa. With vast open plains, rivers, lakes and huge herds of elephant, buffalo, hippo and numerous predators – this is a safari enthusiasts dream.
2. Okavango Delta – Botswana
As the name suggests this Delta is a haven for hippos – with gin clear clean channels and large pools the hippos have plenty of room to spread out and live peacefully alongside other animals.
3. The Selous – Southern Tanzania
The Selous is another remote area of Tanzania which is famous for having a huge number of hippos. Many of the luxury lodges are based along the rivers and near to the lakes (Lake Tagalala has the highest concentration of crocodiles anywhere in Africa) and you can do boat safaris here, which are an absolute highlight.