It's the end of the dry season in the Selous Game Reserve in southern Tanzania, one of the largest conservation areas in the world, and rain is expected any day.
The 21,100-square-mile park is dusty and yellow, and most of the rivers that run through it have become sand beds.
The park's resident game, which includes buffalo, elephants, baboons, impalas, and warthogs, deal with the lack of water in different ways. For the Selous' hippos, that means wallowing in what little water they can find.
While staying at Beho Beho, a lodge in a remote region of the park, a guide took my tour group to see the hippos at their pool in the Msine River, which still contains a little water.
What I saw next was incredible.
Disclosure: Our trip to Tanzania, including travel and lodging expenses, was sponsored by the Tanzania Tourist Board, The Africa Adventure Company, Singita Grumeti Group, Coastal Aviation, Qatar Airways, Tanzania National Parks, and Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority.
The Msine River is one of several that runs through the massive Selous Reserve. It was mostly dry when I visited in late October, except for a small bend that's fed by a spring.
Our guide led us about 100 feet from our safari vehicle to a spot above the river bank. I could hardly believe my eyes -- there were more than 100 hippos wallowing below.
Hippos spend their days keeping cool in the water or mud since they have sensitive skin and lack sweat glands.
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