Orango - The Saltwater Hippos


The boatman said, that it will take some hours more sailing southwest to reach the outermost island of the Bijagos Archipelago called Ilha de Orango. The boat was a nutshell but had at strong engine necessary to cross the rough waters of the Atlantic. The sky was deep blue and on the horizon a long white bend was visible: "Praia Paradisíaca. Bem-Vindo ao fin do mundo" the boatman smiled. Leaning over the railing it was possible to see the ocean floor, but impossible to say how deep the water was. The beach was endless white sand and somewhere boys were waiving with their hands and yelled in an unknown language. "Aqui as pessoas não entendem português… este é Bijagós longe do Bijagós" the boatman said and pointed on a small path into the bush. "Ser cuidadoso"… We had to be careful there are hippos around here. On Orango Island some of the last remaining saltwater hippos could survive protected from the unbelievable remoteness of this place. The path lead us through lush vegetation and rolling hills for about 2 more hours until our feet were drowning in the rising water of a huge swamp. We tramped through the mud like Hemingway described it in the Green Hills of Africa hunting after lions and elephants. Suddenly a short distance away a hippo raised his head out of the water. A majestic appearance on a majestic Island at the End of the World.