Sunday, January 31, 2021

The Hippo Pool of the Serengeti

In the center of the vast Serengeti National Park, where the Seronera and Orangi Rivers meet and spread into a low lying trough, sits one of the Serengeti’s most astonishing sights – the Hippo Pool. We smelled the pool before we saw it. A pungent, muddy, manure-y stench filled the air over the small dirt parking lot above the riverbanks. Wrinkling our noses and grimacing, we emerged from our dusty Land Cruisers and hurried to the ledge overlooking the pool. 

Our disgust at the smell was quickly displaced by our wonder at the sight below us. 

The pool was filled with dozens of huge dark-grey bodies crowded together. The hippos filled the pool from bank to bank, resting their huge pink snouts on neighbors’ backs, and snorting wet, burbling grunts. Their tiny ears wiggled, bringing back childhood memories of the animatronic hippos on the Jungle Boat ride at Disneyland. 

A group of hippos can be called a pod, a herd, a dale…or my favorite – a bloat of hippos.

Although most of the hippos were resting quietly in the mid-day warmth, the water bubbled constantly with muddy, stinky spurts of water splashing over their massive bodies. I thought at first the hippos themselves were flipping water with their tiny tails to keep their backs cool, but no, the water was churned up by the river carp who were feeding on the hippo dung that filled the brown pool, causing the waterspouts. I gave silent thanks that I was not born a hippo…or a carp! 

The water bubbled constantly - churned up by feeding carp.

Around a slight bend in the river was a second smaller pool, a tad bluer due to a better flow of water and fewer hippos. Our guide, Cosmas, rustled the bushes above the pool and the sleeping hippos immediately came to life, snorting loud huffs and glaring up at us. Cosmas explained that hippos marked their territory by crashing noisily through the bushes, so the hippos below were alert to a new intruder. 

A hippo keeps a wary eye on the human intruders.

Since he had been awakened so rudely, one of the big males decided he might as well take advantage of the opportunity for a little afternoon delight. He heaved his massive body up onto the back of his sleeping neighbor, lazily thrusting his pelvis against hers while she struggled to keep her nostrils above the water. As I took a video of the scene, I couldn’t help but giggle at the thought that I was making a “hippo porn movie.” 

Hippo Romance

A nearby crocodile resting on the riverbank slithered into the water to get away from the waves created by the amorous hippos. 

The hippos congregate together partly as protection against the ever-present crocodiles.

It was hard to equate these lazy and adorable giants with danger, but hippos actually kill more humans than any other African animal – about 300 deaths annually! Very territorial, they will charge an intruder with little provocation, and we tiny humans don’t stand much chance against a two-and-a-half ton body trampling over us. I took seriously the signs posted along the fence post warning, “Do not go beyond this point.” 

We saw many animals in our travels through Kenya and Tanzania who were more graceful and beautiful, but no other animal encounter on our trip was as unique – and amusing – as the sight of the Hippo Pool. 

 NOTE: You can find my complete journal account of our safari in the Serengeti at Travels With Robby.

If you know someone who would enjoy this story, please click below to share on your social media!


  1. Wow Great Joan, First time ever for Hippo Porn.
    You are very talented. Pictures & narration are amazing!!!!

  2. Great Joan ♥️ Loved the hippo porn!! You are a talented writer. Pictures 🤩 amazing!!!

    1. Thanks, Gigi! I hope you'll consider subscribing to the blog. I have lots more stories coming up!

  3. What an experience, Joan, seeing all those hippos in one place! I can imagine your excitement, as I recall the sight of one or two hippos crashing along outside the window of the bar area at one of our lodges in Tanzania sent our group fumbling for our cameras. Dandy photos and a lovely read. Thanks, Joan. xoA <3

  4. It WAS a great experience, Annis! I think our 3 trips to Africa had the most thrills of all of our trips!

  5. Great blog Joan. Funny and wonderfully descriptive!

    1. Thanks, Caryn! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. It was definitely a memorable experience!


I would love to hear what you think in the comments. If you have a Google Account, you may use that. If not, you may enter your name in the drop-down menu. Comments are moderated, so don't worry if your comment does not show up immediately.

Popular Posts