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Want to learn Swahili? Hakuna Matata!

Before visiting a foreign country, understanding the native language and learning a few essential words are some of the most important items to pack in your bag. The good news? It doesn't have to add any extra weight to your luggage allowance! 

Whether you wish to carry a small phrasebook or learn a few essential phrases and everyday vocabulary beforehand, knowing a little bit of the language can enable you to get around the new country without difficulty. It can further enhance your holiday experience, allowing you to take a truly authentic trip.

Want to learn Swahili for your upcoming vacation in Tanzania? Hakuna Matata! (No Worries!) We are happy to help you out.

What is Swahili?

The Bantu language of Swahili, also known as Kiswahili, is spoken on the east coast of Africa in a region that stretches from Lamu Island, Kenya, in the north to Tanzania's southern border in the south.

The history of the language itself is ancient. It has, however, changed into the form we hear today, like with all languages. It is a fusion of native African tongues and Arabic, English, Portuguese, and German influences.

How difficult is it to learn Swahili?

According to some, English speakers can learn Swahili the quickest of any African language. Like English, it is one of the few sub-Saharan African languages without lexical tones. Reading Swahili words out loud in their same written form makes it much simpler to read. Before your trip, you can practice the language by:

  • Find websites that link you to locals to practice conversation.
  • Keep adding vocabulary to a written list.
  • Repeat and review your vocabulary list.
  • Learn Swahili through music.
  • Watch Swahili TV shows.

Twende tuanze! (Let’s begin!)

Now that you have a basic understanding of the Swahili language's history let's study some essential vocabulary and phrases to prepare for your upcoming safari!

Common Swahili Greetings

Greetings/QuestionResponse
Hujambo - HelloSijambo - I am fine
Jambo - Hi!Jambo! - Hi!
Mambo vipi? - How is it going?Nzuri - Good/I’m fine
Habari gani? - How are you?Nzuri - Good/I’m fine
Habari za asubuhi - Hello/Good Morning (more respectful)Mbaya - Bad/not great
                 
Si Mbaya or Sio Mbaya - Not too bad
Kwaheri - GoodbyeKwaheri - Goodbye
Baadae - See you laterBaadae - See you later

Introductions

Greetings/QuestionResponse
Jina lako Nani? - What is your name?Jina langu ni... - My name is...
Unatoka wapi? - Where are you from?Natokea... - I'm from...
Nimefurahi kukuona - Nice to meet youNa Mimi pia – me too

Important phrases

NdiyoYes
HapanaNo
AsanteThank you
Hapana AsanteNo, Thank you
TafadhaliPlease
SamahaniExcuse me
Hamna ShidaNo worries
PoleSorry
PoaCool
KaribuWelcome
NgojaWait
SielewiI don't understand

Handy Key Phrases

ChooToilet
BafuBathroom
Ninasikia NjaaI'm hungry
ChakulaFood
Nina KiuI'm thirsty
Maji ya KunywaDrinking water
DaktariDoctor
HospitaliHospital
Unaongea KiingerezaDo you speak English?
UnasemajeHow do you say...
... ni wapi?Where is the...?
Ni shingapi?How much is it?
Tafadhali, naomba msaadaCan you please help me?
Naomba kupiga PichaMay I take a Picture?

Maasai and Mzungu

Phrases for Time  and Direction

LeoToday
KeshoTomorrow
JanaYesterday
SasaNow
BaadaeLater
Saa ngapiAt what time?
Ni saa ngapiWhat time is it?
KaskaziniNorth
KusiniSouth
MasharikiEast
MagharibiWest
MbeleFront
NyumaBack
KuliaRight
KushotoLeft
JuuUp
ChiniDown

Animals on Safari

TemboElephant
NyatiBuffalo
SimbaLion
KifaruRhino
ChuiLeopard
TwigaGiraffe
DumaCheetah
KibokoHippopotamus
FisiHyena
NgiriWarthog
NyumbuWildebeest
PundamiliaZebra
hakuna matata

Once you go through this list, you’ll have some basics down. Don’t worry, most of the locals here know enough English so that you won’t be completely stranded. Any member of our team, including your safari guide, will be pleased to teach you anything else you want to know.

Our Miracle Experience team would like to wish you safari njema (safe travels) for your upcoming trip to Tanzania!

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