If your safari itinerary brings you to East Africa, you’ll undoubtedly encounter the region’s most widely spoken common tongue, Swahili. The language, also called Kishwahili, evolved over centuries from a combination of indigenous dialects, as well as Arabic brought over by coastal traders; today, it’s taught to schoolchildren throughout Kenya and Tanzania (alongside English), as a lingua franca.
Since any East African Micato safari will offer numerous opportunities for you to closely interact with native Swahili speakers, learning some basic expressions in the language will help you make the most of those exchanges—and demonstrate your respect for local culture. Here are some words and phrases to try out before you travel.
Even if you’re only able to familiarize yourself with a handful of Swahili terms, committing these ones to memory will make a great impression on your Safari Director, Driver Guides, and the staffers at your luxury safari lodges.
Jambo! (Hello!) is a word you’ll hear from the moment you arrive in East Africa—and you’ll likely exchange it with dozens of people every day during your safari. (It’s also such a cheery, fun word to say—don’t be surprised if you find yourself using it back home, too.)
Asante (thank you) and asante sana (thank you very much) will also come in handy immediately and repeatedly; you’ll want to offer it to all the many kind, helpful staffers and locals that help make your safari experience a delight.
Sawa (OK) and nzuri (good) are how you’ll find yourself replying to the numerous people who ask how things are going each day you’re on safari. If you want to be especially emphatic, you can also say sawa sawa—which roughly translates to “A-OK!”
Lala salama (Good night) is something you’ll get accustomed to hearing every evening from your Safari Director, as you drift off to your tent to rest before another exciting day on the savannah.
Habari za asubuhi
Habari za mchana
Jina lako nani?
Jina langu ni…
Tafadali, naomba msaada?
To learn more about Swahili, or how you can put it to use on your Micato safari, reach out to one of our planning experts.