Whenever Ana, the HippoTrip ‘animator’, yelled this, our job was to raise our hands and whoop with excitement. We were on board Alegria, one of HippoTrip’s brightly painted amphibious vehicles, about to tour the city of Lisbon.
The HippoTrip experience
I was curious about this novel Lisbon tour, which combines a commentated drive around its monuments with a trip down the River Tagus. Alegria (which means Happiness) was packed with a mixture of Portuguese families and a smattering of adult foreigners like Mike and I. But would it really be fun for all ages?
Ana made sure of it. After covering safety details in an entertaining fashion, she span tales of the snake goddess who created Lisbon’s seven hills in a fit of rage and other legends. Although I know Lisbon well, I learned new anecdotes and historical facts and noticed that Ana tailored her stories to appeal to the different nationalities on board.
Vitor, our driver, took us through Cais do Sodre, the Baixa, Rossio and up Avenida da Liberdade before heading to Belém via the Estrela basilica.
Once in Belém, it was time to hit the water. With a lively build up, extra safety instructions and appropriately dramatic, if a little cheesy, music, the Hippo Trip vehicle plunged into the River Tejo with a splash.
As we passed the Discovery Monument, we learned about the historical figures and the origins of the word ‘tea’. Next up was the iconic Belém Tower, the official departure point for voyages of discovery in the 16th century.
Modern-day discoveries happen at the curved Centre for the Unknown, an impressive building that is shaped like a ship when seen from the river. Inside this intriguingly named structure, international doctors carry out high-level medical research.
Vitor took us as far as the Maritime Control Tower at Alges before heading back to dry land. On the final leg of the tour, Ana managed to turn the stretch of bumpy road back to Docas de Santo Amaro into an invigorating rollercoaster ride.
At times, we resisted Ana’s valiant attempts to get everyone involved and risked being thrown off the truck by not performing our side of the Hippo! Hippo! ritual. The kids seemed to like it though and I enjoyed the stories and anecdotes. On the whole, we found it informative, entertaining and well done.
Related: If you’re travelling to Lisbon with young children, check out these tips for a fun family weekend.
Wear something warm and windproof. The vehicle has roll-down plastic windows but the view is better without them and it can be chilly, especially on the river.
Allow plenty of time to get to the departure point at Docas de Santo Amaro. Seating is on a first come, first served basis and there was already a line of people when we arrived with 15 minutes to spare.
Go along with the silliness and enjoy the ride!
More info and bookings: hippotrip.com
Disclosure: I was a guest of HippoTrip. As always, opinions are mine.
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