All the Tanzania/Kenya Safari Animal Names in Swahili

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Safari animals in Swahili for talking about animals in Kenya and Tanzania
Safari Animals in Swahili. Here you see punda milia (zebras), nyumbu (wildebeest), ngiri (warthogs) and swala (gazelles). Wanyama wengi (many animals)!

It’s so much more fun going on Safari and speaking a local language to talk about nature, the animals, and the whole experience. Start with Swahili, but it gets even more fun with one of the regional languages (like the Maasai language, of which we picked up a few words in Kenya).

We spent a long time talking to our guide, plus our hosts at the hotel we stayed in, using mostly Swahili, and even learning a few local words and phrases. It made the whole experience even more amazing because we could listen in on the guide’s radio and conversations with other guides. Like spies!

By the way, the place we stayed at was amazing. Called Narasha Guest House, the hosts were all Maasai and taught us a lot about what it’s like growing up as Maasai in a blend of traditional and modern society. They were so friendly and warm, it made it magical. Plus, elephants roamed near our house every day… and it only cost U$108 a day in high season.

All the Tanzania/Kenya Safari Animal Names in Swahili
The hosts at Narasha Guest House

Safari Animal Names in Swahili

These are all the words for animals you’ll see on safari in Tanzania and Kenya. See below for some tips on how to use them!

I’ve included plural form (where there is one), plus the occasional difference between Tanzanian and Kenyan Swahili.

EnglishSwahili (sing/plural)
animalmnyama/wanyama
antelopepaa
baboonnyani
batpopo
beenyuki
birdndege
buffalonyati
bug/insectmdudu
bushbabykombo
catpaka
chameleonkinyonga/vinyonga
cheetahduma
chimpanzeesokwe
(black & white) colobus monkeymbega (mweusi mweupe)
cowngombe
crabkaa
crocodilemamba
dogmbwa
donkeypunda
elephanttembo (Tanzania), ndovu (Kenya)
flynzi
frogchura
gazelleswala
giraffetwiga
goatmbuzi
hippokiboko/viboko
horsefarasi
hyenafisi
impalaswala pala
jackalbweha
leopardchui
lionsimba
lizardmjusi
monkeytumbili
mosquitombu
mousepanya
octopuspweza
ostrichmbunu
owlbundi
porcupinenungu
pythonchatu
rabbitsungura
rhinoceroskifaru/vifaru
roosterjogoo
safari antsiafu
sheepkondoo
snailkonokono
snakenyoka
spiderbuibui
squidngisi
warthogngiri
waspnyigu
wildebeastnyumbu
wildlifewanyamapori
zebrapunda milia (lit. striped donkey)

This is already over 50 animals. I can safely say we know more animal names in Swahili than in any other language we’ve learned! Just don’t ask us how to say “kangaroo”…

Talking about Safari in Swahili — A Few Key Sentences

EnglishSwahili
Have you ever seen an elephant?Umewahi kuona tembo/ndovu?
No, this is my first time!Hapana, hii ni mara yangu ya kwanza!
I can’t see where the chameleon is.Sioni kinyonga kiko wapi.
Safari ants are very dangerous.Siafu ni hatari sana.
There are five lions over there.Kuna simba watano huko.
There was a leopard here but he is hiding.Kulikuwa na chui hapa lakini ameficha.
We have to move. The elephants are coming.Tunahitaji kuhama. Ndovu wanakuja.
Those zebras are beautiful.Punda milia wale wanapendeza.
Every Maasai has many cows.Kila Maasai ana ngombe nyingi.
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