A Victoria Hippo Tours bus enters the water at the James Bay Anglers Association ramp near Ogden Point. The company’s three converted school buses offers passengers a view from land and sea.

A Victoria Hippo Tours bus enters the water at the James Bay Anglers Association ramp near Ogden Point. The company’s three converted school buses offers passengers a view from land and sea.

Touring in the belly of a hippo

Unique Victoria bus company offers tours from land and sea

“Go, hippo, go!” an enthusiastic busload of passengers yells in unison. And with that, the bus drives down a ramp at Ogden Point and splashes into the Pacific Ocean.

Fear not – it’s no suicide mission; it’s a tourist attraction that provides a unique, one-of-a-kind tour of Victoria from both land and sea.

Victoria Hippo Tours is in its first season offering sightseeing tours in and around downtown Victoria. So far the feedback has been quite positive.

“Victoria has its own little flavour, its own lustre. It’s got a lot of charm and because everybody comes to centre ice (a.k.a. downtown Victoria) when they visit, we thought it would be a great place for us to be,” says Geoffrey Lind, president and co-owner of Victoria Hippo Tours.

The hippo buses – named Happy, Harry and Henrietta – were formerly school buses. They were taken apart and had a boat’s hull built underneath. The vessels are government certified to run on land and in water.

Tours last roughly 90 minutes and begin with a land tour downtown and in James Bay.

As the aforementioned amphibious bus travels along Dallas Road, it turns off the road near Ogden Point and drives straight into the water.

For 45 minutes, the hippo bus cruises through the water, touring Ogden Point, Fisherman’s Wharf and the Inner Harbour.

“It’s not hop-on, hop-off. It’s a fully narrated tour with a guide and a captain,” Lind says. “It’s a great way to see Victoria and get some history from a bus and from a boat without having to switch vehicles.”

Victoria Hippo Tours load in front of the CPR Steamship Terminal building. Tours run on the hour between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. For more information visit victoriahippotours.com.

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