swahili for tourists

Basic Swahili (Kiswahili) for travelers to Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Learn some Swahili (Kiswahili) and traveling in East Africa will be even more rewarding. Greetings, numbers, animals, transport and other basic phrases are covered in this article about Swahili.

Pronunciation

While many East Africans speak some English or French, knowing a few words of Swahili will really help you out in the more rural areas and along the coast. Since Swahili is a second language to most East Africans, they’ll understand a little broken Swahili, and they’ll certainly appreciate your efforts.

Greetings

Greetings are important in East Africa and you don’t launch into a conversation or even ask a question without first saying “hello, how are you?”.

Hello = Jambo / hujambo / Salama

How are you? = Habari gani

Fine (response) = Nzuri

Goodbye = Kwa heri / Kwa herini (more than one peson)

See You Later = Tutaonana

Nice to meet you = Nafurahi kukuona

Goodnight = Lala salama

Civilities

Yes = Ndiyo

No = Hapana

Thank you = Asante

Thank you very much = Asante sana

Please = Tafadhali

OK = Sawa

Excuse me = Samahani

You’re Welcome = Starehe

Can you help me? = Tafadhali, naomba msaada

What is your name? = Jina lako nani?

My name is = Jina langu ni …

Where are you from? = Unatoka wapi?

I’m from .. = Natokea …

May I take a picture? = Naomba kupiga picha

Do you speak English? = Unasema kiingereza?

Do you speak Swahili? = Unasema Kiswahili?

Just a little bit = Kidogo tu!

How do you say in Swahili? = Unasemaje … kwa Kiswahili

I don’t understand = Sielewi

Friend = Rafiki

Getting Around

Where is the … = ni wapi …

Airport = uwanja wa ndege

Bus station = stesheni ya basi

Bus stop = bas stendi

Taxi stand = stendi ya teksi

Train Station = stesheni ya treni

Bank = benki

Market = soko

Police station = kituo cha polisi

Post Office = posta

Tourist Office = ofisi ya watali

Toilet/bathroom = choo

What time is the … leaving? = inaondoka saa … ngapi?

Bus = basi

Minibus = matatu (Kenya); dalla dalla (Tanzania)

Plane = ndege

Train = treni/gari la moshi

Is there a bus going to …? = Kuna basi ya …?

I’d like to buy a ticket = Nataka kununua tikiti

Is it near = Ni karibu?

Is it far = Ni mbali

There = huko

Over there = pale

Ticket = tikiti

Where are you going? = Unakwenda wapi?

How much is the fare? = Nauli ni kiasi gani?

Hotel = hoteli

Room = chumba

Reservation = akiba

Are there any vacancies for tonight? = Mna nafasi leo usiko? (Kenya: Iko nafasi leo usiku?)

No vacancies = Hamna nafasi. (Kenya: Hakuna nafasi)

How much is it per night? = ni bei gani kwa usiku?

Mosquito net = chandalua

Days and Numbers

Today = leo

Tomorrow = kesho

Yesterday = jana

Now = sasa

Later = baadaye

Every day = kila siku

Monday = Jumatatu

Tuesday = Jumanne

Wednesday = Jumatano

Thursday = Alhamisi

Friday = Ijumaa

Saturday = Jumamosi

Sunday = Jumapili

1 = moja

2 = mbili

3 = tatu

4 = nne

5 = tano

6 = sita

7 = saba

8 = nane

9 = tisa

10 = kumi

11 = kumi na moja (ten and one)

12 = kumi na mbili (ten and two)

20 = ishirini

21 = ishirni na moja (twenty and one)

30 = thelathini

40 = arobaini

50 = hamsini

60 = sitini

70 = sabini

80 = themanini

90 = tisini

100 = mia

200 = mia mbili

1000 = elfu

100,000 = laki

Food and Drinks

I’d like = nataka …

Food = chakula

Hot/cold = ya moto/baridi

Water = maji

Hot water = maji ya moto

Drinking water = maji ya kunywa

Soda (soft drinks) = soda

Beer = bia

Milk = maziwa

Meat = nyama

Chicken = nyama kuku

Fish = sumaki

Beef = nyama ng’ombe

Fruit = matunda

Vegetables = mboga

Health

Where can I find a … = Naweza kupata … wapi?

Doctor = daktari/mganga

Hospital = hospitali

Medical Center = matibabu

I’m sick = mimi ni mgonjwa

I need a doctor = nataka kuona daktari

It hurts here = naumwa hapa

Fever = homa

Malaria = melaria

Headache = umwa kichwa

Diarrhoea = harisha/endesha

Vomiting = tapika

Medicine = dawa

Animals

When you’re on safari in East Africa many of the guides and trackers will speak Swahili.

Animal = wanyama

Buffalo = Nyati / Mbogo

Cheetah = Duma / Chita

Cow = N’gombe

Elephant = Tembo / Ndovuh

Giraffe = Twiga

Goat = Mbuzi

Hippo = Kiboko

Hyena = Fisi

Leopard = Chui

Lion = Simba

Rhino = Kifaru

Warthog = Ngiri

Wildebeest = Nyumbu

Zebra = Punda milia