From my hikes in Japan, Greenland and Jordan I learned that some basic knowledge of local languages helps a lot in making your hikes more safe and enjoyable. So when preparing for hiking Mount Kilimanjaro I tried to at least get some basic knowledge of Swahili words. A good starting point is actually the Jambo Bwana song which you’ll hear a lot on the mountain.

So here are some essential Swahili words for hiking – for example on Mount Kilimanjaro:

How are you?Habari geni?
Very wellMzuri sana
Very beautifulMzuri sana
Visitor / foreigherWageni
No problemHakuna matata
SlowlyPole pole
FastHaraka (haraka)
Let’s goTuende (as in: tuende pole pole)
You’re welcomeKaribu
Thank youAsante
VerySana (asante sana, mzuri sana, …)

Please let me know if you have other Swahili words to add.

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