Luangwa River, one of Zambia’s four largest rivers has given life to Luangwa Valley as sounds of hippos feeding on the riverbanks fills the air. Luangwa River is Africa’s only river with the largest population of hippos per square kilometre.
The hippos at Luangwa River, due to their huge population, have been nicknamed the ‘river horses’. Hippos spend up to 16 hours submerged in the water and can hold their breath underwater for up to five minutes. At night though, they come out in celebratory tones and noisily feast on the grass along the banks of the river and nearby lodges.
They are the main attraction in Luangwa. Visitors usually spend most of their nights on their windows watching the hippos hungrily chomp grass outside their cottages and rooms. Lagoons and ponds around the river are considered a haven for the ‘river horses’ as Nile cabbages are in plenty.
What’s intriguing about hippos is their sensitive skin that does not sweat thus dries up and cracks easily in the sun. This explains why they spend most of their daytime in water and only come out during the night when it is cool and chilly. Although they are dangerous animals, they are more aggressive in the water as they protect or mark territories.