Amphibious Hippo Bus Ready to Make Victoria Splash





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Published on Dec 7, 2012

VICTORIA - They call it the big splash - that moment when your tour bus becomes a boat. "Effectively we start with a school bus...we take the top off, take the seats out, then put on a 20-ton logging axle from Finland, and beef up the back axle, then build a boat around it" says Geoffrey Lind, co-owner and president of Victoria Hippo Bus Tours.

After losing access to its ramp, Hippo Tours has moved its three amphibious buses that plied the waters of Lake Ontario in Toronto for the last decade across the country. The company is optimistic Victoria tourists will fall in love with the hippos. "More 'pure' tourists we call it come to Victoria and Vancouver than Toronto and with the cruise ship industry, the beauty of the mountains and everything else."

Lind has already signed contracts with several cruise lines and hopes to attract 40,000-50,000 passengers per season.

Victoria Hippo Tours will launch April 1st of next year, from 10 until dusk, running on the hour every hour. Each tour will last about 90 minutes; 50 minutes of that will be on land, and 40 in the water.

The original plan was to debut the hippos last summer but their propellers couldn't cut through all the red tape in time. "The process has been sort of like crawling up a waterslide...we had 6 permits in Toronto. We have 32 here."

Lind laid-off 20 staff when he left Toronto and expects to hire the same amount here. They'll spend the winter in training, meaning you might see the hippos on the road or in the water. The people we floated past Friday were getting out their cameras. "He just rolled right out, awesome...it's a beautiful monster, it's just amazing. Who could think, hey, Victoria of all places" said one excited passerby at Ogden Point.

Hitching a ride on one of the beautiful monsters named Happy, Harry, and Henrietta will cost you $43.

Follow Andrew Johnson on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CTVNewsAndrew


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