Hungry Hungry Hippos: What You Should Know Before Heading to Africa!

My two years of living in Africa taught me many life lessons… not only providing me with valuable traveling tips, but survival lessons as well.  It’s true what people say about Africa,

“You don’t leave the same person you arrived as.”

And while I have various tips to share from my African experience, I will start out with one simple tip for Safari Goers who love those adorable, chubby Hungry Hungry Hippos:

Respect a Hippo’s Power

Botswana, Africa is home to the famous Okavango Delta, one of the most beautiful places on earth. It is filled with gorgeous flowers, wildlife, and animals. Amongst the lions, elephants, cheetas and giraffes are the magnificent hippos. I have to admit that no matter how many times I saw hippos in the water, I got excited each time.

There’s just something majestic about these amazing, yet dangerous creatures. Snapping photos of hippos in and out of the water are, for many, highlights of a safari. And getting that elusive picture of a hippo with his mouth wide open is even more coveted. And that’s where my tip comes in to play.

True Fact: Those Hungry Hungry Hippos may look harmless, but they kill more people than another other African Animal. 

Hippos kill around 3,000 per year, to be specific. A few other fun facts arbout hippos include:

  • The 3rd largest living land mammals, behind elephants and white rhinos.
  • Can weigh up to 4,500 kg (9,920 lbs).
  • Have large teeth and tusks for fighting
  • Run up to 23 km/h (14mph)
  • Stay under water for up to 5 minutes without coming up for air

Most people know that in the water, Hippos are extremely quick swimmers. But did you know that on land, Hippos are surprisingly very stealth and fast runners? It’s true! One would think the opposite because of their fat body and short, stumpy legs, but I have seen hippos chase down other animals and people. Again, stay out of their way and don’t think you can outrun them. It sounds like common sense when dealing with a wild, African animal, but you would be surprised to hear the lengths tourists take to get an awesome Hippo pic — like the time I witnessed a group of Japenese tourists coming THIS close to death, just to get that one picture of a hippo charging.

Hippos will often times give you warnings to back away. In the water this is the “mouth open wide with grunting noises” signal. (Scientific description, I know!)  This may be the perfect time for a great photo, but try using your SLR camera with a long lens and not your IPhone. The closer you are to him the easier it is for him to tip your boat (which has happend WAY too many times in the Bush).

Most importantly, just remember to respect the hippo’s space and he will respect yours. If done safely and properly, you too can get that “always remembered Hippo shot” to post of Facebook and amaze your friends.

Not to brag or anything, but here’s mine:

Hungry Hungry Hippos
Okavango Delta Hippo

3 Comments on “Hungry Hungry Hippos: What You Should Know Before Heading to Africa!

  1. Now there’s a whole different side to the hippo story – sleeping in a tent when a hippo comes along side to brush up against your tent. I guess the camera tip there is, leave it in the bag and start praying!! 🙂

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