Hippos are undoubtedly one of the fascinating creatures on the planet. True heavyweights, yet are very capable of speed bursts, equipped with jaws the same power of a sledgehammer but feeds mainly on grass, dubbed as the ‘gentle giants’ though actually not-so as they can be greatly aggressive and territorial. Nevertheless, it is still a wonder to see these “river horses” in the wild.
But where are the top places to see hippos are? Not to worry, as we’ve listed the best locations to spot Hippos and witness these extraordinary African animals.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Boasting numerous waterholes for these water-loving creatures, the Serengeti National Park is a perfect place to see hippos. Once in the area, head to Central Serengeti’s Retina Hippo Pool, where Orangi and Seronera rivers meet. Up to 200 Hippos wallow in the pool, which is undoubtedly a fantastic sight to see. It is one of the few locations that allow tourists to go outside their vehicles and view them on foot. So, make sure to relish the encounter.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Located in northeastern South Africa, the Kruger National Park has many dams and rivers, allowing many hippos to thrive. Some of the notable rivers you should see include the Sabie Rivers, Olifant River, Crocodile River, Letaba River, and Luvuvhu River. Besides hippos bathing and wallowing, you can also spot lions, rhinos, elephants, leopards, and buffalos, which makes your visit complete.
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi National Park, South Africa
KwaZulu Natal’s Hluhluwe National Park, the declared oldest nature reserve in Africa, is brimmed with lots of waterholes and overlooking pans, where you can spot hippos. Its game reserve also offers boat and bush safaris for a unique experience in the wild.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa
Another hippo paradise in Kwazulu Natal is the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Not only it houses the continent’s most extensive estuarine system, Lake St. Lucia, but it also serves as the home of more than 800 hippos, the largest population of these fascinating creatures in South Africa.
Okavango Delta, Botswana
Okavango Delta is Botswana holds the prestige of UNESCO’s 1000th World Heritage Site. The hippo population in the area continues to rise steadily. You can hear them honking in schools or pods across the lagoon during the day or watch as they search for their favorite food – grass – during the night.
Kazinga Channel, Uganda
Lying in one of Uganda most striking national parks, Kazinga Channel stretches 32 miles and connects two lakes, Lake Albert and Lake George. The channel boasts a high concentration of hippos, which you can see by riding boat cruise services that will bring you closer to these giants.
Kenya is deemed to be the original home of the Kenyapotamus, which is believed to be the oldest ancestor of modern-day hippos found in entire Africa. Hippos are scattered in various freshwater bodies in the country, such as in the Mara River and Lake Victoria.
Liwonde National Park, Malawi
Shire River in Liwonde National Park is a wide channel that serves as the home of one of Africa’s descent hippo population. There is a hippo in every 10 to 20 meter along its stretch! Get the chance to see numerous hippo pods by joining one of the boat safaris and see hippos as they submerge in the water during the day to cool themselves and head into bushes to graze at night.
Sierra Leone’s Gola Forest is only one of the few remaining habitats of the Pygmy Hippos, the rarest and smallest of all the hippopotamus species. They thrive in heavily forest area along swamps and streams. However, seeing them can be a challenge as these hippos are reclusive and nocturnal and love to hide in dense vegetation instead during the day.
Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania
The sinuous Rufiji Rivers that flow in Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve, as well as its lakes, is a refuge for congregations of hippos. What’s great is that it has various high-end safari camps, which can give you a low-impact yet enjoyable camping activity while you get close-up sightings with the continent’s river horse.
That’s the list of the top locations to spot hippos in their natural habitat. Rest assured that whichever place you choose, personally witnessing these impressive creatures is a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife experience you can cherish.