The Kilimanjaro Series: Lingo

In many of our international travels, we’ve observed particular facets of the culture that are untranslatable; we simply don’t have the words to capture the feeling… the experience. This was especially the case on our trek to Everest Base Camp. The word ‘namaste’along the trail emoted a much deeper meaning than we’ve ever encountered while using the word in yoga classes, or anywhere else we’ve seen or heard it. Namasteencapsulated mutual understanding of this deeply spiritual and shared experience. The word became a vessel that held all the emotions along the way – the struggle, the triumph, the awe, the vastness. 


In anticipation of discovering the culture along the Kilimanjaro trails, so we did some cursory research to learn the colloquialisms and idiosyncrasies of the culture there. Here are a few we learned: 


Jambo. Translation: “hello!”

·     The standard greeting amongst passerbys.


Karibu. Translation: “welcome!”

·     Often used to welcome trekkers to the region


Maji or maji maji. Translation: “water”

·     Said once, it translates to water. Said twice, it’s a suggestion that trekkers stop for a breather and get some water.


Poa kichizi kama ndizi. Translation: “crazy cool like a banana in the refrigerator!”

·     Stick with us. Mountain people are a joyous people. African people are often passionate. When someone asks us how we are and we’re really feeling excited about being on this spectacular trek, we can say we’re better than good. We’re as happy, as satisfied, as excited as cool as a banana would be if it were in the refrigerator.


Asante Sana. Translation: “thank you very much.” 

·     Disney’s The Lion King actually taught us a thing or two. 


Pole pole. Translation: “slowly, slowly” 

·     A friendly reminder to take it easy, enjoy the views, and soak up the experience.


Twende sasa hivi. Translation: “let’s get going”

·     For those slower mornings or tired afternoons along the trail, a little extra motivation for porters to get trekkers moving.


Hongera. Translation: “congratulations!”

·     How else would you celebrate a Kili summit? 

Countdown: 17 days until departure!

sarah pollack