In our last post I highlighted all the things to do on our African Safari bucket list and since I love learning new languages for our trips, I thought it’d be fun to share some useful travel phrases for that trip of a lifetime.
Kenya’s two official languages are Swahili (or Kiswahili) and English, but I always think it’s fun to learn a few basic phrases in the native language and be able to better understand what’s happening around us as we travel. Swahili is also spoken in Tanzania, Uganda, Congo, Mozambique, and other East African countries. Certain Swahili phrases might sound familiar to Disney fans as some basic words made their way into songs and character names (Rafiki translates to friend and Simba literally means lion) in The Lion King.
If you’re visiting Africa with a tour group, they’ll most likely help out with communicating with the locals, but with any language or visit to another country, it’s the attempt that counts and generally at least earns you a smile!
Looking for some basic Swahili phrases for travelers? These greetings, expressions, and phrases are a great place to start:
Hello, how are you? Hujambo, habari (informal)
I’m fine Sijambo
Good morning/afternoon/evening Habari ya asubuhi/mchana/jioni
Good night Usiku mwema
Polite expressions in Swahili
Thank you Asante
You’re welcome Karibu
Excuse me/sorry Samahani
No problem Hakuna matata
Danger, watch out Hatari
Swahili questions, directions, travel, and shopping
How much? Shillingi ngapi?
I want…. Ninataka…
Do you speak English? Unasema kiingereza?
How was your safari? Habari za safari?
Where is…? Ni wapi…?
Airport Uwanja wa ndege
Bus station Stesheni ya basi
Train station Stesheni ya treni
Taxi stand Sendi ya teksi
How much is the fare? Nauli ni kiasi gani
I’d like to buy a ticket Nataka kununua tikiti
Days and time
Have you gone on an African safari in Kenya? What travel phrases came in handy for your travels? Tell us in the comments below!