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:

Hello Jambo
How are you? Habari geni?
Very well Mzuri sana
Very beautiful Mzuri sana
Visitor / foreigher Wageni
Welcome Mwakaribishwa
No problem Hakuna matata
Yes Ndio
Slowly Pole pole
Fast Haraka (haraka)
Let’s go Tuende (as in: tuende pole pole)
Friend Rafiki
You’re welcome Karibu
Thank you Asante
Very Sana (asante sana, mzuri sana, …)
Rain Mvua

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

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