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Hippos in Africa - Vicariously

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There are some of us who love words. Vicarious is one of my favorites. “Living vicariously” allows one to experience things through others without having the experience firsthand. In this case it is witnessing the amazing hippopotamus in Africa. 

With her husband, my sister recently took one of her bucket list trips. She went on an African safari. Prior to the trip, she received a new camera with an amazing lens and took photography classes to enhance her picture taking skills. What she did next was wonderful.

With photo sharing on Facebook, friends and family can stay up to date on trips and photos. My sister took over 600 pictures each day on her safari, then each night she would edit them and post her favorites for family members to enjoy. We took a virtual safari with her, thus, experiencing the safari vicariously.


The first hippos they saw were at the Sussi and Chuma Lodge that sits on a bend of the Zambezi River in Zambia in Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park near Victoria Falls. The temperature that day was over 100 degrees and very dry. I was surprised to learn that hippos make an interesting sound – the noise is a combination of a pig and cow grunting. To really feel as if you are with the hippos, listen to their sounds on Youtube.

My only exposure to hippos has been at the public zoo. They seemed docile and gentle, but my sister quickly learned that they are one of the most feared animals in Africa. She likes to live on the edge, so she and her husband took a kayak trip to get up close and personal with the animals. The guides were frantically steering left for shore after they realized a submerged hippo had come to the surface and was headed their way. She explained that although they look deceptively docile, hippos kill more humans than any other animal - even though they are vegetarians!  

She amused me with many other details about the hippo, my favorite being that their head alone weighs 500 pounds.  It is no wonder they stay in the water up to their noses to enjoy the buoyancy. There is nothing like a picture to really capture an animal in its habitat. Her favorite part was being able to zoom in close enough to see the hairs on their heads and their long eyelashes. Like many things in nature, it is best to respect this animal and enjoy from a distance.


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Cindy Wendland is a web designer, writer and creative director of Brain Brawn & Body. You can contact Cindy at


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Guest Saturday, 24 February 2018