Sandy Hippopotamus

Hippo, Luangwa Valley, Zambia

Hippo, Luangwa Valley, Zambia

The world’s largest population of hippos live in the Luangwa Valley in Zambia, Africa.  They love the water, which is why they are so abundant in the Luangwa Valley.  The Luangwa River is one of the biggest unaltered rivers in southern Africa.


Hippopotamus amphibius  need water deep enough to cover them.  Their thin, naked skin is vulnerable to overheating and dehydration; they submerge to protect their skin and stay cool.  Their eyes, ears, and nostrils are positioned high in the skull so that they can remain submerged for long periods.


Usually one sees wild hippos in the water.  But they are semiaquatic mammals, meaning they live in both water and on land.  Their diet is grass, so they also require pasture areas not far from water.  They graze for about five hours, then return to water beds to spend the day digesting and socializing.


We found this handsome hippo one morning at dawn, while heading out in the jeep.  It was unusual to see him resting in sand, but he still found a shady, cool spot.  He was fine with us interrupting his rest, as long as we stayed in the vehicle.  And we were fine with him glaring at us, as long as he didn’t charge.  I love it when we all get along.


Photo credit:  Athena Alexander


50 thoughts on “Sandy Hippopotamus

    • That’s right, Ingrid — the hippos can be pretty ferocious. I, too, wouldn’t want to be canoeing near one. I once was in a motorboat in a lake with hippos, but the guide was experienced, and we had no problem. I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend. 🙂

  1. Of colossal size,yet so adorable!Perfect eye contact,Athena has handsomely portrayed it!Yes,they are amphibius,they couldn’t live away from water,”his” name betrays the info … Our guy here is so lucky to live in a nearby big and unaltered river!Lovely Hippo post,dear friend Jet! Happy Friday 🙂 xxx

    • Yes, that valley was filled with lucky hippos. And they were so busy going to and from the river, and socializing too. I had never seen so many hippos in one area and haven’t since. I am glad you enjoyed the post, dear Doda. I hope you are enjoying a delightful weekend. 😀 😀

  2. Oh, this is a handsome one 🙂 One night while in Luangwa I woke up to a strange noise. I also saw a huge shadow moving on the curtains. I tiptoed carefully to peek out and there he was, a huge hippo grazing right outside our bedroom window. I think they eat quite often at night when it’s cooler?

    • Oh, do I ever love this story, Tiny. Tiptoeing around at night to see what is looming beneath your window in Luangwa. And you’re right, they are quite active at night when it is cool. Many thanks! 😀

  3. Lovely to see a capture of these guys on land. Normally you one see the head sticking out of the water:) Wonder if they are less dangerous when on land? I am thinking maybe not as fast?

    • The hippos are quite swift on land, even as they walk around without any worries; so my guess is they are faster on land. They are a curious beast, with such a huge and round body and little stumpy legs. Thank you so much Inger. 😀

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