Thursday, November 10, 2011

Playing Peek A Boo with a Hippo

One of our most memorable safari experiences and one that we talk about often happened several years ago while we were on safari in the Queen Elizabeth National Park.  After a satisfying lunch at Mweya Lodge, we decided to go out for an afternoon game drive.  Many people say that there is not a lot to see during the hot afternoon hours, but this encounter would prove those people wrong.

Just several kilometres away from the lodge along the channel track, we rounded a corner and next to the road was a pool of muddy water with a massive muddy body lumbering away from it.  It was a hippo.  They are amazing creatures to see out of the water so on this particular instance we decided to give the pool of water and the vehicle a bit of space, turn off the engine and see if the hippo would eventually return to his wallow.  We fully expected that it would run off and find another retreat from the blazing sun and the heat.

After about 15 minutes of keeping our voices to a whisper, we saw the hippo peek out of the bushes quite a distance from the car.  It paused for a moment to assess the situation and then retreated back into the bushes.  Again, we waited for another 15 minutes before seeing it again.  This time it was much closer than the first time and again, peeking out of the bushes, another assessment and another retreat.  We continued our waiting game and then saw it peeking out of the bushes at us, right next to the giant puddle.  After staring at our vehicle for quite some time, we were obviously seen as no threat and the hippo fully emerged from the bushes and as gently as a hippo could, got back into its puddle.

We were so amazed at the process of checking if the coast was clear and how with each inquiry, it was getting closer and closer to us.  This experience was definitely worth waiting around for, when else would we get the opportunity of playing peek-a-boo with a hippo!

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