Safari Terms and Phrases to know before your Trip

When going on an African Safari guides will use certain safari terms and phrases. To help you feel more prepared for your trip I’ve compiled this list of all the safari terms and phrases you’ll need to know.

African Safari Terms and Phrases

Bean Bag

A bean bag is used to stabilize a camera while taking photos or videos in the safari vehicle. Some safari guides will have them available in the truck for your use and other will not. If you are going with an outfitter that does not have them, I recommend getting the Grizzly Camera Bean Bag.

Read More: Big Five Safari Animals and How to Spot Them

The Big Five

The safari term, “Big Five” is an old hunting term to name the five most difficult and most dangerous animals to hunt. It is less used for hunting and more so for safari goers. The Big Five are: the elephant, the cape buffalo, the leopard, the rhino and the lion.

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To help you feel more prepared for your African Safari I've compiled this list of all the safari terms and phrases you'll need to know.

The Bush

A sparely populated area usually where safari animals can be found. This can include both wooded areas, grass land, and scrub bushes.

Bush Breakfast

A full breakfast had while out in the bush on safari. Safari guides set up a table and chairs to sit and enjoy. Food can consist of, but is not limited to: eggs, sausage, yogurt, granola, cereal, fruit, nuts, homemade bread, and fruit juices.


A privately maintained area to manage and preserve wildlife and the environment.

Deep Tissue Massage

This is a play on words for when your safari vehicle goes over a bumpy area. Many safari guides will jokingly call this a deep tissue massage.

Read More: Ultimate Safari Packing List

Diurnal Animals

Diurnal is a safari term for animals that are most active during the day. A few examples of diurnal animals are giraffes, zebras, hippos, and monkeys.

safari terms

Game Drive

A game drive is when you go out in the safari vehicle to view the African animals in the bush. Game Drives usually happen in the mornings and evenings as that is when majority of the animals are active.

The Great Migration

Taking place in the ecosystems of the Serengeti in Tanzania and the Masai Mara in Kenya, the Great Migration is the largest animal migration in the world. Happening annually, over 2 million animals including wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle migrate in search of water.

More Safari Terms

Mark my Territory

When you go to the bathroom out in the bush.

National Park

A National Park is a natural protected area run by the state. When inside a National Park visitors are not allowed to go hunting or fishing. There are usually stricter rules to follow as well.

Night Drive

A Night Drive is similar to a Game Drive except it is done after the sun goes down. It is the perfect of the opportunity to see nocturnal animals.

night safari

Nocturnal Animal

Nocturnal is the term used for animals that are most active at night. A few examples of nocturnal animals are Aardvarks, Bushbabies, Civets, and Honey Badgers.


A Ranger is a guard that protects parks, reserves, and conservancies. They’re responsible for protecting both the land and animals. For example, the Rangers at Ol Pejeta Conservancy are charged with protecting the endangered animals, specifically the last 2 Northern White Rhinos in the world.

Even More Safari Terms


The Savannah is grassy plain with scattered trees and bushes. This ecosystem has only two seasons a wet and a dry season.

Self-Drive Safari

A safari in which you drive yourself around to view the animals. Not all conservancies, reserves, or parks allow self-drive safaris, so plan accordingly.

Sun Downer

A sunset drink usually had while on an evening Game Drive accompanied by a light snack.

Tented Camp

A semi-permanent camp usually consisting of safari tents, a lounge, food tent, and sometimes a pool.


The area in which an animal frequents and raises it’s young. Lions and Leopards are 2 examples of territorial animals.


A porridge made of maize or cassava, that comes from the manioc plant. It is served with fish, meat or vegetables. You’ll most likely try this is you’re traveling in East African countries such as Tanzania.

Walking Safari

A Walking Safari is a Safari on foot where a guide takes a small group of people around the Bush usually pointing out the flora and fauna difficult to see from a safari vehicle. The guide is armed for safety purposed.

Do you know any other safari terms? If I missed any let me know what they are in the comments.

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To help you feel more prepared for your African Safari I've compiled this list of all the safari terms and phrases you'll need to know.

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