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Where to see Hippo in Malawi

The noisy territorial calls of the hippopotamus create a signature soundtrack to Africa’s wild rivers and wetlands. Despite the endearing smile, however, this heavyweight aquatic herbivore has a notoriously aggressive disposition.

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Quick facts about Hippo

Scientific name: Hippopotamus amphibius Habitat: Freshwater rivers & wetlands
IUCN status: Vulnerable Adult weight: 1,300–2,600kg

The hippopotamus leads a double life. Uniquely among Africa’s large herbivores, it spends daytime in water, where pods of up to a dozen – generally an adult male plus females and young – laze in the shallows, often showing just their heads.

By night, hippos leave the water and disperse to feed, wandering far in search of grazing. On land, they are solitary, the calves staying with their mothers.

During the dry season, as waterways shrink, pods congregate in large herds. A hippo’s rotund body, naked hide and elevated eyes and nostrils are adaptations for its aquatic lifestyle. Its huge incisors and canines serve not for feeding but for threat displays and fighting; rival bulls contest violent territorial skirmishes.


Max. speed on land


Max. length of canines


Max. nightly wanderings


Max. grass consumed nightly

The top camps for seeing hippo in Malawi

Based on 18 reports by our travellers since Jul 2018, visitors at these camps in Malawi have the best chances of sighting hippo.

Best chances to see

Good chances to see

Some sightings

No sightings yet

Top 10 camps for hippo

% of travellers who saw hippo

Top 10 camps for hippo

% of travellers who saw hippo

Where to see hippos in Africa

Hippos occur in most major rivers and wetlands across sub-Saharan Africa, their presence betrayed by their resonant calls and distinctive ‘highways’. Nervous and potentially aggressive, they always demand respect.

Top tips for viewing hippos

Large aggregations of hippos are an impressive sight on any safari. Major rivers in a suitable habitat, such as the Chobe, Zambezi, Victoria Nile and Luangwa, allow excellent viewing, while wetlands such as Botswana’s Okavango Delta have their landscapes shaped by these heavyweight herbivores, which plough channels and waterways. Elsewhere, hippos often take up residence in smaller waterholes, sometimes cramming into the smallest of mud wallows.

Boat trips in some parks allow close viewing on the water, while guided canoe trails offer more exposed, adrenalin-charged encounters. Hippos may wander past waterside lodges at night, allowing you to watch how they crop the sward with their lips and scatter their dung with a flicking tail. Always keep a safe distance.


Our best Malawi holidays for hippo sightings

Based on our travellers' reports, these ideas for Malawi safaris are likely to give the best hippo sightings

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Hyena Safari

11 days • 4 locations

Mix relaxation and adventure on a safari combining the South Luangwa with Victoria Falls and the beaches of Lake Malawi. These three locations are among the most iconic in southern Africa.

US$8,630 - US$11,910 per person

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Utaka Cichlid Safari

10 days • 3 locations

Explore two of Malawi's safari parks - Majete Wildlife Reserve and Liwonde National Park - before finishing your trip with some beach time: relaxing, snorkelling and sailing in Lake Malawi National Park.

US$4,340 - US$5,700 per person

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Red Zebra Cichlid Safari

7 days • 2 locations

Explore two of Malawi's highlights, with a safari in rugged, remote Majete Wildlife Reserve before some beach time: relaxing, snorkelling and sailing in Lake Malawi National Park.

US$3,400 - US$4,500 per person

View all holidays to Malawi

More information about hippo in our other destinations

Click here for detailed information about hippo in other countries, including the places for sighting hippo.

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