When you go on a safari to Africa, it is a good idea to have some understanding some of the terms and lingo you might come across along the way.
Big Five – buffalo, elephant, leopard, lions, and rhinoceros
Bushveld – a term used more in South Africa. Bushveld generally means safari areas lined with shrubs, trees, and abundant game; also called the bush or the veld
Bush Dinner / Bush Breakfast – Either breakfast, lunch, or dinner out in the open wilderness.
Charter Flight – A light aircraft scheduled just for you or your group. The aircraft can range from a 4 seat Cessna to a 12 seater Grand Caravan Cessna.
Concession – an area of tribal land leased to a safari company for wildlife viewing activities. The result is community-based conservation; which provides an approach to biodiversity conservation that involves working with the indigenous, local people.
Dry Camp – this is where lodges and camps are located in a dry bush area, with little/no water. Wildlife viewing centres on game drives and/or walking. No water activities offered.
Dry / Wet Camp – the best of both worlds. Lodges and camps that have access to dry and wet areas offer the greatest variety of activities; such as day/night game-drives, motor-boat, mokoro and walking.
Fly-in Safari – this is when you fly from one wildlife area to another while on safari. This is the perfect way to explore remote areas and different parts of a country without struggling for hours through dusty or potholed roads. You also get to see much more in less time.
Game Drive – When you are in the safari vehicle exploring the wilderness in search of wildlife and birds. Usually a 3-hour drive, twice a day, however, this can vary.
Game reserve – This is a nationally protected wildlife area, but is not subject to such strict regulations as national parks. For example, local people may be allowed to use the land for their cattle and live in the area. This is the case for the Maasai in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania.
Green Season – This is the wet/rainy season; which varies depending on whether you are in East Africa (Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya) or Southern Africa (South Africa, Madagascar, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia.) The Green Season is also known as the Low Season as wildlife spreads out more when it is wet, and so can be more challenging to see wildlife.
Hakuna Matata – is Swahili for ‘no problem’ or ‘no worries’
Hide – slightly camouflaged shelters that serve as a site for game viewing
High Season – This is the dry months, which typically is Africa’s winter. During the dry months, the grasses are low and waterholes offer vital refreshment making animals easier to see. High Season is also known as Peak Season, as is an excellent time for wildlife viewing.
Kopje – In places such as Serengeti in Tanzania, you will likely encounter a “kopje”. Out of the flat plain or savannah rises a mound consisting primarily of granite and gneiss. The scenic mound is also known as an inselberg and is pronounced “copy”. It’s a good place to look for wildlife, as kopjes attract animals.
Kraal – traditional residence in Southern Africa
Midden – a dung heap or an area for communal defecation. Rhino’s use middens.
Mobile Safari – undoubtedly the most traditional way of exploring Africa. Travelling in a small group, on a 4WD vehicle, moving camps as you proceed across remote regions, sleeping under a dome canvas tent in wild areas left entirely untouched, with no infrastructures or facilities.
Mokoro – a wooden dugout canoe; pluralised as mekoro
National Park – a protected wildlife area where fishing and hunting are prohibited. Areas with a national park stamp are protected by the state, which ensures that nature, flora and fauna are conserved.
Ranger – A security guard who protects wildlife areas i.e., national parks, game reserves and private wildlife conservancies. Besides guarding wildlife areas, rangers also keep an eye on the bush and help if anyone needs assistance.
Rondavel – a traditional thatch-roof round hut
Safari – Means “to travel” in the African language of Swahili.
Safari Lodge – rustic yet chic accommodations ranging from tents to lavish suites; prices at lodges include all meals and game viewing
Savannah – A grassy plain with scattered trees and bushes. It alternates between dry season and rainy season, and the lushness of the savannah alternates as well.
Sun Downer – A time to enjoy the traditional safari drink (Gin and Tonic), and snacks as the sun sets, usually while taking in a breathtaking view of your surroundings. Depending on where you are, a small fire will be set to keep you warm.
The Bush – Pretty much means the wilderness!
Ugali – A porridge made of maize, which comes from the manioc plant. The porridge is served with fish, meat or vegetables.
Walking safari – the original safari and remain the purest form of experiencing the bush. Walks typically last between two to four hours.
Veld – a grassland; see bushveld
Vlei – wetland or marsh
Wet Camp – accommodations located next to a river or waterways, such as the Okavango Delta. Depending on the camp, they will offer wildlife viewing from motor-boats and/or mokoro.