What to Expect in Tanzania
Traveling anywhere new comes with the added task of getting to learn about and experience a new culture.
If you're headed to Tanzania on our Kilimanjaro Trek, check out our advice and packing guide for your expedition to the Roof of Africa
Traveling in Tanzania
When arriving in Tanzania at the airport, there will be a Choose a Challenge In-Country Operations staff member there to greet you and bring you to your accommodations. It is important to remember (whether arriving for the first time, or if you elect to travel on your own in Tanzania before or after your Challenge) that traveling in the developing world is not the same as traveling as you're used to it. Having a bit of patience, your wits, and a plan is always advisable to make sure you get wherever you're going successfully.
Swahili Crash Course:
In Tanzania, a little Swahili goes a long way! For many Tanzanians, Swahili is actually their
second language and their tribal language is their mother tongue (for many of the people from
the Kilimanjaro region, this is the Kichagga language). This means that in Swahili, unlike a lot
of European languages, pronunciation and accent are much less important and you should feel
confident that if you at least try, people will understand and be very pleased that
you have tried to communicate in their national language!
Below is a guide to some key words and phrases that you may want to try while in Tanzania:
Jambo – This is not true Kiswahili. If you say this to a Tanzanian they will most likely reply
‘Jambo’ and then speak to you in English!
Mambo – This is the informal greeting that you should use with people around your own age
Poa! – Means ‘cool!’, and should be said with emphasis! It is the standard response to the greeting ‘mambo’
Safi – An alternative response to ‘Poa’. It’s literal meaning is ‘clean’.
Habari? – A more formal greeting, meaning ‘how are things?’
Nzuri – Means ‘good’. This is the common response to the greeting ‘habari?’
Shikamoo – Respectful greeting, used when greeting older people. Children in Tanzania may
greet you with this word.
Marahaba – The response to shikamoo
Ahsante - Thank you
Leo – Today
Kesho – Tomorrow
Jina Langu.... – My name is...
Jina lako nani? – What is your name?
Nina Njaa – I am hungry
Nina Kiu – I am thirsty
Bia moja tafadali – A beer please
Bia nyingine tafadali – Another beer please!
Naskia mbaya – I feel bad
…iko wapi? – Where is (the) .....?
Sitaki ahsante – I don’t need it, thanks
Hapana ahsante – No thanks
While we want you to have the best time you can on your trek, it is important to be respectful of the culture wherein you are traveling. Expressions of affection, such as kissing, holding hands, etc. in public are heavily frowned upon. It is recommended that you act in a reserved manner when in public with your spouse regardless of gender or sexuality.
Check out our recommended packing list below. Click to enlarge and read or print it out to use as a checklist!
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