Travel Diary: hippo abuse … or dieting needed? in Choebe NP

It’s hippo day!
Hippo snorting. Hippo yawning. Hippo sneezing. Hippo floating. Hippo swimming. Hippo diving. Hippo stuffing his face … hippo doing what hippo does.
Speaking of hippo stuffing his face, well, trust me when I say the chomping sounds are audible even from the barge – yes sire, it’s a barge not a cruise as they like to call it! Though call it what they want, to be fair, they charge barge rates and not your 5 star cruise line rates. Hence, nothing to complaint.

But back to the chomping … it’s just not the ‘rip, chomp, swallow’ you’d expect to hear. In fact, you’ll hear that disgusting ‘slurp’ as the slimy vegetation and water is drawn between mr. Hippo’s sparse tooth with occasional ‘snorts’ above the din of the roaring engines that propels the barge filled with half drunken American high school students, a sprinkling of rich American and German tourists, and some odd ones like me. Oh well, at the sight of the yawn, I don’t suppose you’d expect hippos to have attended finishing school – even if it’s hippo finishing school we’re hopeful of.

In my mind, I had often thought that hippos were cute. Well, considering my only point of reference is Gloria of Madagascar {as mentioned in my earlier blog entry HERE}, you’d know what I mean and forgive my ignorance. Naturally  from that statement, you’d conclude that I’ve never seen one up close and personal. Frankly, I can’t even recall if I have ever seen a hippo in enclosure. Or the last time I visited a zoo.
So as I was aiming for the shots clumsily with the cameras (being half blind anyways) I just thought that hippos looked rather awkward in terms of proportions; with semblance of a very large pig that is a far cry from their Greek name ‘river horse’.
I later learned that hippos, are far from pigs, horses or even the larger land mammals like rhinos and elephants. The hippo’s closest living relatives are whales, dolphins and porpoise! They have said to have split {ancestor’s “divorce” if you like} around 55 to 60 million years ago…

Well, with timelines such as these, my brain is incapable of comprehending, much the same with the case of astrology and astrophysics.

{So yeah, if you, yes you, whom I spent hours star gazing with some 2 decades ago happens to stumble on my blog and read it, well, I had a high school crush on you and not the stars. Operative word: HAD}
© Penelope Gan – All Rights Reserved – Hippopotamus in Choebe River, Botswana
Despite the rude noises and ill mannerisms witnessed, nothing prepared me for hippo rage when the floatations on the side of my barge nudge a hippo in his butt. 
The ‘snorts’ and ‘barks’ that ensued after the slight impact, startled me and nearly tipped me off balance as I was struggling with two rather heavy cameras around my neck; one with an extended attachment that must have weighed more than my arm. 
Quickly setting the dSLR to 12 fps, I managed some shots that was limited by the camera’s ability to lock in the focus quick enough and the bare physical space I had, being sandwiched between rich American and German tourist with extended attachments that seems to approximate the size of my calf. hmmm… I bet they weigh more than my thighs combined!   
© Penelope Gan – All Rights Reserved – the raging MAD hippo we hit in Choebe River, Botswana
Guided by Oscar and Shahlimbor, who have great sense of humour and suggested that hippos be put on a diet plan to avoid floating into barges, the 3-hour trip down the Choebe River that divides Namibia and Botswana revealed crocs in the river and on the banks, hippos on the river and on Sedudu Island, impalas taunting everyone with their ‘Mc D’s golden arches’ sign on their rear ends, springboks, elephants and towers of giraffes on the banks of the Choebe National Park. 
With a wide array of bird life – of which one was a pair of eagles and the rest I am totally clueless and have no interest in ornithology – the river is a sight to behold with dramatic skies that promises a long light rain that night, converting my tent into a steam bath. 
True enough, the rain poured a few hours later and unable to sleep, I decided to lift the tent’s door flap up and deal with the pool of potential water at the entrance later in the morning. My camping companion {the cat} who dutifully sleeps at the entrance of my tent whilst I was in Botswana had abandoned me – not due to the rain, but bribery of some beef goulash earlier that evening. 
Despite the exhaustion and time difference {jet lag kicked in} my pampered body would not relent to sleeping soundly on the frankly not too hard sleeping mat and bag. The problem it appears is I don’t really know how best to position my arms in the restricted sleeping bag {partly open} … often being forcefully woken up by acute pins and needles!
I really need to figure this camping out.
I’ve got the South African bush to deal with after this… my camping days are far from over yet!

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{ Information on Choebe River and Choebe Safari Guide HERE }




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