We spent a week in November traveling across the Caprivi Strip in northern Namibia. It’s this funny skinny strip of land with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the south, Zimbabwe to the east, and a landscape that shifts from the Namib Desert to the Okavango Delta.
It’s one of the greatest places I’ve ever visited.
Our lodging consisted of tents on the Kavango River. These were larger and more comfortable than you’d think. The lodges are off the grid, with electricity powered by solar energy collectors. The first tent had a fan and the second one didn’t. The tents always included mosquito netting over the beds.
The river bank was a few meters away, and I gazed across it to Bwatbwata National Park.
By far the best pieces of scenery were the hippos that live in exactly this stretch of the river.
I was astonished to learn this fact: Hippos can’t swim. Apparently they can hold their breaths under water for up to five minutes. Mostly they stand around in groups called pods or bloats (really!) almost completely submerged. They socialize in water up to their eyes and ears to keep cooled off until it’s time to go up on land and find something to eat.
Hippos talk simultaneously both above and below the water. I found them to be surprisingly chatty. When hippos communicate with honks, the sounds really carries.* They also talk with grunts and bellows and wheezes.
Each night I fell asleep to the voices of hippos snuffling in what sounded like quiet contentment. I slept more deeply there than anywhere else on our trip.
NOTES: * A hippo’s honk can be heard a mile away. Science Direct: Amphibious communication. The San Diego Zoo has a great article on hippopotomuses: https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/hippo ©2023 Jadi Campbell. Photos ©2023 Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photography and his photos of our trips can be viewed at viewpics.de.
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