Hippos' imposing looks steal the show at Kazinga

Monday November 30 2020
Kazinga Channel.

Hippos at the Kazinga Channel, which connects Lake Edward and Lake George within Queen Elizabeth National Park, south western Uganda. The animals are one of the main attractions along the channel. PHOTO | EDGAR R. BATTE

The Kazinga Channel connects two lakes, George and Edward. In between is a diversity of wildlife and the hippopotamus stands out due to its size and imposing looks.

You will see hundreds of them while you cruise the channel, one of the main attractions in Queen Elizabeth National Park in south western Uganda. The boat captain and guide will gladly drive you close enough to watch them as they swim and interact.

For the photographer, patiently wait for one to yawn and open its two-feet long jaw wide open. You can chance on seeing part of their 36 teeth, hairy nostrils and big noses with which they breathe through the water and let off a splash and bubble. Their eyes are peaceful but do not be fooled, they can kill in a matter of seconds.

Nonetheless, they are a sight to behold, and certainly an optical manifestation of God’s sense of humour.

Hippos are the third largest mammals after elephants and rhinos. If they are in a mood to show off, you’ll catch a happy family, lazily swimming in the afternoon sun.

Some of the huge ones will get out of the water to graze by the shoreline though the general trait is to graze during the night.


They can feed on up to 70 kilogrammes of wild grass in one night.

Some hippos have wounds from territorial disputes or from the thorny jungle.

The hippos are one of the main attractions on the 32-kilometre Kazinga Channel that makes for an amazing boat cruise.

The elephants enjoy browsing by the river banks of the Nile against the backdrop of the park’s thickets and savannah grasslands.

That is in addition to the Nile crocodiles and cape buffaloes who cool off within the bank’s water. If you love birds, the channel will draw you in with water bird species that line its shorelines.

Over 300 tourists have rated Kazinga as excellent on TripAdvisor. In their review, Cartegana said it was truly exciting to start the boat trip immediately after arriving in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

They go on to say that for about two and a half hours, they were able to see what is believed to be the largest concentration of hippos in the world as well as buffalos, elephants, many antelopes, crocodiles and different birds that congregate at the fishing village.

Wild Whispers Africa, a tour and travel company, details some of the bird species to see while on the water channel expedition.

“For the avid bird watcher, the Kazinga Channel is a prime place for bird watching. While on the boat safari you can see up to 60 different species of birds. Many of these are water birds.

“Some of the birds you might see on the boat launch along the Kazinga Channel are the Great White and Pink-Backed Pelicans, African Shoebill, Yellow Billed Stork, Great and Long Tailed Cormorants, Open-Billed Stork, Saddle Bill Stork, Darters, Black Crake and Jacana,” their website states. Kazinga Channel is within the park that is christened the medley of wonders.

It is situated in south western Uganda, some 410 kilometres from the capital city Kampala.

According to the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), which manages parks in the country, the Kazinga Channel is an oasis for many of the fascinating species that inhabit the park, and taking a boat tour along it gives visitors the chance to cruise just metres from hundreds of enormous hippos and buffalos while elephants linger on the shoreline.

UWA’s boat can carry and cruise up to 40 passengers on guaranteed seats with a view, the rangers are also expert guides. They ply the channel up to four times a day. For accommodation, you can choose from budget, midrange and luxury facilities.