That day we drove to St. Lucia to see the iSimangaliso wetland park. Our plan was to book a hippo and crocodile tour but when we were at the agency we couldn’t resist and also booked a whale watching tour for the next day.
For the hippo cruise we took off with quite a big boat and a very experienced captain. And not long after the launch we saw an entire group of more than ten hippos chilling under the branches of some mangroves. We learned that hippos actually can’t swim and not even float. They are standing and walking on the ground and to cross deeper water they actually walk on the ground and push themselves to the surface to take a breath. As adults only have to breath every 30 minutes and the whole process is automated they can even sleep under water and come to the surface without waking. As the babies are too small to that they normally rest on the back of their mothers. We also learned that they are the actual king of the animals as a healthy grown hippo has no enemies and that they are actually responsible for 3’000 killed humans every year in South Africa only. But as we learned 90% of those kills are actually drunk people getting to close to hippos at night.
During the cruise we saw plenty of those elegant animals and when they opened their mouth to moan or to show dominance you could see their impressive teeth. We also saw several crocodiles but they kept the distance. Maybe they have seen our first video and had learned what bullies those hippos can be.
As it was already dark when we drove back to our camp close to Hluhluwe, that ride was an adventure of its own. We had learned that South Africans nurture quite their own style of driving by overtaking all the time. But we didn’t know that they also do that at night and most of the time not even dim out their lights. The negative highlight was for sure to pass several ambulances and police cars next to a mass collision but we luckily made it back safely and promised ourselves not to drive after dawn any more.