What You Should Know about Hippos in Botswana!

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.  So today, I’m sharing with you what you should know about hippos before heading to Botswana.

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: What you should know about hippos before heading to Botswana. 

Where is Botswana? 

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. Botswana is located in the south of Africa – north of South Africa, snuggled in between Namibia, Mozambique, and Zambia. 

Are there hippos in Botswana?

Amongst the lions, elephants, cheetas and giraffes – hippos make up the magnificent wildlife in Botswana. The majority of hippos live in the Okavango Delta – it’s where you’ll find the highest concentration of them.

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.

Are hippos in Botswana dangerous?

Here’s a fun fact about hippos: those Hungry Hungry Hippos may look harmless, but they kill more people than another other African Animal. So yes, hippos in Botswana are dangerous.

Hippos kill around 3,000 per year, to be specific. A few other fun facts about 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

Can I see hippos on safari?

Hippos are common to see on safari, and most safari experts will include a drive to a water hole or a drive around the Okavango Delta. If you come to Botswana and specifically want to see hippos, make sure to ask your safari driver if you will see hippos. Most will try to make that happen!

Where are the best lodges in Botswana to see hippos?

I lived in Botswana for two years, and the majority of my trips to the bush were in my Pajero. But, I was fortunate to have visited and spent time in a few incredible lodges in Botswana as well. Here are some of the best lodges to see hippos from.

Thamalakane River Lodge – Located right on the Thamalakane River, in the Okavango Delta, you’re sure to see hippos and other wildlife during a stay at the Thamalakane River Lodge.

Chobe Safari Lodge – Chobe is one of the top safari located inside Chobe National Park, Kasane. This stunning luxurious lodge is the creme de la creme of lodges – if you’re looking for an incredible Botswana vacation, staying at Chobe Safari Lodge is it!

Riverdance Lodge – If you want to cross the border and head into Namibia, the Riverdance Lodge is a great choice! I’ve stayed here for multiple visits and had hippos graze right outside my safari tent!

Maun Lodge – Most all flights into Botswana for safari enter at Maun, and if you need lodging before you head out to safari in the bush, I recommend Maun Lodge. Whether you’re staying in Maun, or in transit, it’s a great place to stay.

Top 3 tips on how to stay safe around hippos in Botswana

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. So here are a few tips to stay safe around hippos in Botswana.

  1. 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 tourists coming ridicously close to death, just to get that one picture of a hippo charging.
  2. 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.
  3. Remember to respect the hippo’s space and he will respect yours. Hippos really only attack if they feel that their territory is threatened. So the most important measure to take is to keep a healthy distance and respect their space.
Hungry Hungry Hippos
Okavango Delta Hippo

What You Should KNOW about Hippos in Botswana BEFORE Your Trip – PIN IT

3 Comments on “What You Should Know about Hippos in Botswana!

  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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