Safari Speak: Common Words and Terms You Should Know Before Entering the African Bush

By deciding to embark on a safari adventure, you are willing to invest time and money into extensive preparation that ensures you will get the most out of your trip into the wild.  In addition to meticulously organizing your safari itinerary, you should also set aside some time to familiarize yourself with the language of the wild – safari speak.

Here are some basic words and phrases to review as a primer for your next safari:

Banda – a typical bungalow or hut

Big Five – the collection of buffalo, elephant, leopard, lions, and rhinoceros

Bush – a word denoting an African safari region (see bushveld)

Bushveld – general safari areas in South Africa; generally lined with shrubs, trees, and abundant game; also called the bush or the veld

Camp – used interchangeably with lodge

Concession – granted to a safari company as a game-region lease that grants exclusive access to the surrounding land

Game Guide – typically used interchangeably with ranger; generally male

Hides – slightly camouflaged shelters that serve as a site for game viewing

Kraal – traditional residence in Southern Africa

Lodge – rustic yet chic accommodations ranging from tents to lavish suites; prices at lodges include all meals and game viewing

Mokoro – dugout canoe; pluralized as mekoro

Ranger – safari guide with extensive experience and knowledge of the bush and the animals inhabiting it

Rest Camp – camp in a national park

Rondavel – a traditional thatch-roof hut

Self Drive Safari – budget safari option where you drive and guide yourself in a rented vehicle

Tracker – Works in tandem with a ranger throughout South Africa; spotting game from a special seat on the front of the four-wheel-drive game-viewing vehicle

Veld – a grassland; see bushveld

Vlei – wetland or marsh


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