African safari Terms and phrases

African Safari Terms: What You Should Know Before You Go

If you’re planning on going on an African safari, or have been on safari and felt like you were missing something? Well, hopefully you’ve enjoyed your time in the bush, but chances are you’ve been wondering what all of those native African words and phrases mean!

In African Safari Terms what is a Wild Camp?

Wild camping usually done in a tent can be done in a variety of places, including National Parks and Wildlife reserves, back country areas close to cities or towns, and on privately owned land.
The benefits of wild camping include experiencing nature and wildlife undisturbed, gaining independence from conveniences such as campsites. Learning about “Leave No Trace,”and developing wilderness skills.
Some wild camps allow visitors to stay for extended periods in order to connect with local wildlife and the local culture.
Wild camping can also be known as camping where you are not supposed to be. It is also referred to as stealth camping.

What is the “Bush” in Safari?

The “bush” refers to the natural environment, where animals live and roam free.
A wide phrase for sparsely inhabited natural regions characterized by brush and woods.

What is a Bush Walk?

A bush walk is a type of safari where you explore the area by foot. Bush walks are nature hikes that take place in a forest or other natural area. They can be short walks of a few kilometers or long walks of many kilometers. Bush walks offer a chance to see nature and wildlife up close and can be a great way to get some exercise.

What is a Bush Breakfast

Bush Breakfast is an morning meal that is served outdoors, sometime under a canopy where safari guests can learn about the area and the tourism opportunities available.
Bush breakfast is a meal that includes eggs, sausage, yogurt, granola, cereal, fruit, nuts and homemade bread.

What is the Big five?

The Big Five of Africa is a hunting term to name the five most difficult and most dangerous animals to hunt.
While adventurous photo safari goers hope for a change to photography the Big Five, (Elephant, lion, leopard, cape buffalo, and rhino). Your guide knows that the African bush has so many more wonders to share, many of which can be missed because they are so small, and perhaps insignificant to some.
The Ugly Five are the unfortunate African animals that do not meet the unrealistic beauty standards set by the Big Five.

What is a Balloon Safaris

imagine softly floating in the air traveling where wind blows you. A photo journey from above, hovering over the savanna in a balloon. Many places in Africa, offer balloon ride, including Kenya, Tanzania, and Namibia, you may encounter the wilderness and wildlife in the wonderful early rays of the sun.
The Balloon Safari is a hot air balloon ride that offers scenic rides over some of the most beautiful landscapes in Africa.

What is the “Great Migration” of Animals on Safari?

The Great Wildebeest Migration, also known as the Great Migration, is a remarkable event. Every year, over two million animals migrate from Tanzania’s Serengeti to Kenya’s Masai Mara. The herd is mostly made up of wildebeest, although gazelles and zebras are also present.

What is Kopje?

A “kopje” is a type of rock formation that may be seen in areas like Tanzania’s Serengeti. A mound made mostly of granite and gneiss rises from the flat plain or Savannah. The picturesque pile is also known as an inselberg, and its name is pronounced “copy.” Because kopjes attract animals, it’s a fantastic spot to photography wildlife.

What Are the Maasai People?

The Maasai are an ethnic group inhabiting southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. They survive mostly on the milk supplied by the cattle they raise, which forage in the plains. Their regular diet consists of a combination of calf blood and milk, with the odd serving of oatmeal. They are among the best known of African tribes due to their distinctive customs and dress.

What is a Night Drive?

Night drives are similar to Game Drives except they are done after the sun goes down.
They are the perfect opportunity to see nocturnal animals.
Night drives can be exciting, as you a chance to see predators at night, during active hunting hours.

What is Sun Downer?

A sun downer is ‘happy hour’ in the African bush at sunset. Your photo adventure will be spiced up at camp with a sun downer to round off your afternoon experience.

What is a Tusker?

A Tusker is slang for elephant in Africa. They are the largest land animals on the continent and can weigh up to two tons. Tuskers are known for their large tusks, which can grow up to six feet long.
Tusker is also a beer brand in Kenya.

African Vocabulary for Conservancy

There are many African words and expressions that could be used for a conservancy. Some words and expressions that come to mind are:

  • Ubuntu: A Zulu word that roughly translates to “I am because we are.” It is often used to describe the interconnections of all life and the importance of community.
  • Sustainability: A key concept in African cultures, sustainability refers to the ability to maintain something over a long period of time.

Diurnal Animals, Wildlife Terms

Diurnal animals are animals that are active during the day and sleep at night. This is in contrast to nocturnal animals, which are active at night and sleep during the day.
Diurnal animals are most active during the day.

Safari Game Drive

A game drive is a safari term for a guided tour of the wildlife in a designated area. Game drives are typically conducted in open-air vehicles so that visitors can have an unobstructed view of the animals.
Game Drives usually happen in the mornings and evenings as that is when majority of the animals are active.

Mark my Territory

African slang for going the washroom in the outdoors.

National Park

National parks are managed by the government as a part of their conservation efforts.
Visitors are not allowed to go hunting or fishing inside a national park.
There are usually stricter rules to follow in national parks are well. at some of the parks you not allowed out of the vehicle.

What is a Night Drive

Night drives are a type of safari that takes place after the sun goes down.
They are like daytime safaris, except you have a higher chance of seeing nocturnal animals.
Night drives can be exciting, as you have a chance to see predators at night.

What is a Nocturnal Animal

Nocturnal animals are animals that are active at night. There is a good possibility of seeing nocturnal creatures on your night game drive.

What is a Safari Guide Called?

As Safari Guides (Rangers), who are they? ‘A person who advises others, especially on matters of  animal behaviour on an expedition to study animals in their natural habitat,’ according to the dictionary.

What is a Ranger or Safari Guides

Ranger or African guide, is the trained expert that will not only track wild animals so that you maximise your wildlife photo opportunities, but also ensure your safety and enthral you with their knowledge and stories of the bush.

What is a Savannah

The Savannah is a grassland with a few trees and plants strewn around.
There are only two seasons in this ecosystem: rainy and dry.

What is a Self-Drive Safari

Self-Drive Safaris are a great way to see some of the best wildlife reserves and parks in Africa. Guests are able to drive themselves around the reserve in their own car, making their own game drives and stops at any time they wish.
You can decide where you want to go and how long you want to spend at a certain place, without having to worry about other people or a schedule.
A self-drive safari is cheaper than an organized ride and children of any age can participate without restrictions.

A self-drive safari is a great way to spend a day with the kids.

What is a Tse Tse Fly

The Tse Tse Fly is a type of fly that is found in Africa and is known for spreading the disease Trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness. The Tse Tse Fly can also spread other diseases such as yellow fever, malaria and West Nile virus.

A fly that is attracted to dark colors like black and dark blue. Read our article on What to Wear on an African Safari

What is a Tented Camp

Similar to a lodge, there are permanent and semi-permanent camps. Typically consists of safari tents, a lounge, a food tent, and, on occasion, a pool.

What does Territory Refer to?

In the context of African safaris, territory refers to the areas that different animals frequent and call their home. For example, lions are known as territorial animals and will protect their area at all costs. Additionally, territory may refer to a specific geographical region or country depending on the context. These are just some examples given by the passage itself.

What is a Ugali

A porridge produced from the manioc plant’s maize or cassava. The porridge is accompanied with fish, meat, or vegetables. You will very certainly come across an Ugali on your safari, especially if you are visiting one of the East African nations like as Tanzania.

What is a Walking Safari

A walking safari is an exhilarating experience in which individuals go on a slow-paced, guided hikes with the primary goal of exploring various animal species across the bush. The slower speed and lower perspective of being on foot bring to light the minor nuances that are often ignored on game drives.

Conclusion on African Safari Lingo

Safaris are an amazing way to travel and discover a new region of the globe. You’ll be able to see the creatures in their native habitats whether you travel off the beaten road on a private jeep safari or arrange a guided trip.

The more you know before you travel, like with many things in life, the smoother your journey will be. Make sure you’re well-prepared with the proper equipment and understand how to act in the wilderness. Then go out and see the incredible wildlife of Africa for yourself!

Bob Wild is a professional photographer and the former owner of African Photo Safari, having led guided photo safaris to numerous destinations including Namibia in western Africa. He owns Who Said Photography and continues to help introduce newcomers to the joys of photography.