Hippos are one of the most treasured creatures spotted while on safari. While these magnificent mammals were once found all throughout Africa, hunting and habitat loss has sadly made their population decline. Today they are primarily found in protected East African countries – like Tanzania.
Considered the second largest land animal on Earth (just after elephants), hippos are great swimmers despite their enormous size. They can hold their breath up to five minutes under water. Their nose, eyes and ears are located on the top of their head which makes them able to breath, see and hear on land while submerged in the water.
Hippos spend their days submerged in the cool water. When night descends, these stout animals finally emerge from their water bed and graze by starlight under the cool relief of night. In spite of their bulky appearance, hippos are quite swift on the ground.
Their skin is coated in an oily red substance that helps protect them from the sun, like sunscreen! One the most saturated populations of hippos in the world is located at Retina Pool of the Central Serengeti. Although hippos are common throughout all the rivers in the Serengeti, the deep pool at Retina is certainly the best spot in the park to view these enormous and fascinating animals.
The most unique feature and compelling draw for visitors to the Retina Pool is that they are permitted to leave the vehicle and view the hippos on foot. The riverbank here is about 10-feet above the pool and it is possible to climb to only few feet away from the approximately 200 hippos that inhabit the pool. Here’s a couple recent photos of Retina Hippo Pool: