went on a canoe to find the hippos on monday evening with hassan, the guy who took us to the giraffes. this was the biggest adventure yet (!) and just as good as the giraffes but in a different way. it was really peaceful going down the niger in a wooden canoe (which was sealed not with silicone but with mud). for us at least (clive, jo and john. and me.) – i suspect the 3 guys paddling us were less chilled out. it was almost tempting to dip your toe or hand in the water, but the risk of tropical disease was a bit too worrying for that.
we saw several groups of people along the river as we went past – either bathing or washing – and were met with differing responses. sone little boys were pulling funny poses at us and then grinning, others shouted “cadeau!” just like on the streets (and we pretended to lob them things), most just waved. one group of young ladies started shouting at hassan and co, telling them that we couldn’t take photos (not that we were anyway!). apparently they thought we might sell them as postcards.
when we got to the island where the hippos usually were, they weren’t. but a fisherman came along just as we were losing hope, and he said they were about 40 mins upstream. so we continued, and found 5 hippos. it was brilliant. we got out of the canoe and walked as close as we dared (not close, my photos are at 10x optical zoom). there was a big daddy hippo who was huge and had a huge mouth which you saw when he yawned. there were smaller ones which i thikn he was a bit defensive of. our guides were certainly scared and didn’t go nearly as close as we did.
the sun set while we were photographing the hippos, so we paddled back though dusk and then through darkness. it was a great experience, athough would have been better in a full (not new) moon.