Ariadne van Zandbergen
South Africa ZA

Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.

Categories: African Wildlife, Animals on Safari, Traveler Stories

Hippos in Katavi National Park

The hippos in Katavi National Park are a sight to see. Katavi National Park is a very seasonal park with huge floodplains that dry up after the rains from June onwards. The Katuma river also dries up, until all that’s left is a small stream with a few muddy ponds. 

A community of hippos

The big concentration of hippos in Katavi National Park that happily live together in the green season are forced to huddle together in the last remaining puddles at the end of the dry season. The fights between male hippos at the edge of the puddles are hair-raising to watch. And I got a serious fright when a big male hippo ran towards me as I was standing outside the vehicle looking through my viewfinder.  I ran for my life back to the vehicle. Only then did I realise that he wasn’t after me. Another bull, protecting its territory, was chasing him.

You can see the lone bulls who are unable to be in the pools, wandering around in the midday sun. This is when they need to submerge themselves in the pool. They simply can’t find a spot in the water. Many individuals don’t make it. And their dead bodies add to the pungent smell of the dung puddles in which the hippos lie in a heap pile. Not pretty, but amazing all the same.

Best time to visit

If you want to see hippos at Katavi National Park in Tanzania, the best time to visit is during the dry season (August to October).

Photo ops

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