Safari Dictionary: A guide to all the Namibia Safari Lingo You Need to Know

Safari Dictionary: A guide to all the Namibia Safari Lingo You Need to Know

Jun 4, 2022

Safari Dictionary: A guide to all the Namibia Safari Lingo You Need to Know

Over the last few decades, the popularity of safari tours to Namibia has grown exponentially. Each year thousands of couples, groups, families, and solo travellers pack their suitcases and jet off to this enchanting nation, eager to experience the adventure of a lifetime.

From marvelling at the magnificence of the Sossusvlei dunes, to admiring the Cape Fur seals at Cape Cross, here at SecretNamibia we offer a range of self-drive and private guided safari packages that are bursting full of incredible activities that every type of traveller can enjoy.

However, we understand that when you’re navigating our website there may be some terms that you may not be familiar with. What is a Game Drive? Who are the ‘Big Five’? In this article we break down all the safari lingo you need to know…

Balloon safari

Balloon safari

A balloon safari is a safari experience in a hot air balloon, allowing you to glide over the incredible landscapes below.


This is a general term used to describe natural areas where scrub and woodland are often found. When embarking on a game drive you will often explore the ‘bush’; the natural area where animals roam, such as in Etosha National Park.

Bush Walk

Bush Walk

A bush walk refers to a walking safari, where you can interact and get up close and personal with wildlife and the natural surroundings. If you undertake a bush walk you will likely be accompanied by a knowledgeable guide who will detail everything you need to know about the area.


The term diurnal refers to animals that are active during the daytime. If you’re embarking on a game drive, you will encounter plenty of magnificent animals that are active during daytime hours.

Fly-In Safari

A fly-in safari is a safari whereby you will transfer to and from different destinations by air, as opposed to travelling by road. Fly-in safaris can be more convenient if you’re time-restricted and they can enable you to access parts of the country that can’t be reached by road.

Game drive

Game drive

The term game drive refers to a safari by vehicle, usually a 4x4. On a game drive, you will be given the chance to marvel at some incredible wildlife from the vantage point of your motor. Most game drives take place early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when viewing conditions are at their best and scores of animals are at their most active.

Game reserve

A game reserve refers to a large area of land that is protected so that wild animals can live safely or be hunted in a controlled way. Game reserves often don’t have to abide by as many stringent regulations as national parks, and locals may be permitted to live or graze cattle in these areas.

Hakuna matata

A term popularised by the Lion King franchise. The phrase ‘Hakuna matata’ literally translates to ‘take it easy’ in Swahili.


The Himba are a seminomadic tribe that inhabit the northern part of Namibia. A highly skilled tribe, the Himba herd cattle and are experts at adapting to the harsh desert environment. The Himba are noted for their traditional leather clothing, red bodies and their thick dreadlocks that are coloured by a paste containing ochre.



A lodge refers to a cabin, or other similar cabin-like structure, that are found across Namibia, particularly in areas close to the country’s national parks. Lodges contain all the amenities you might expect from a hotel, including private rooms, bathrooms, restaurants and even swimming pools. At SecretNamibia we offer a huge range of luxury lodges that cater for families, couples, and solo travellers.

National parks

A national park is an area of protected natural beauty where activities like hunting and fishing are strictly prohibited. National Parks are protected by the Namibian state and visitors must abide by strict rules whenever they enter a national park. Etosha National Park and Namib-Naukluft National Park are two of the country’s most famous examples.

Night game drive

A night- time game drive refers to a safari after dark. Although lots of the wildlife in Namibia are diurnal, scores of species are active at night (nocturnal) so driving around after the sun sets is a perfect opportunity to see animals like aardvarks.


A phrase that describes animals that are active after dark.

Private Guided Safari

Private Guided Safari

A private guided safari refers to a safari adventure whereby you form part of a small group and are ‘guided’ by a knowledgeable local expert as you explore different destinations. A private guided safari in Namibia gets you further and to wilder places than a self-drive safari.


A ranger is the person responsible for security and maintenance at a national park. Rangers are very knowledgeable and are on hand to help any safari-goer that needs assistance.


Deriving from the Swahili term ‘to travel’, a safari is a travel industry term used to describe an expedition to view wildlife in their natural habitat. There are many different types of safaris, including fly-in safaris, self-drive safaris, and private guided safaris.

Self-drive safari

A safari adventure whereby you drive your own vehicle, as opposed to taking part in a private guided tour. Self-drive safaris give you the freedom to explore all of the sights Namibia has to offer without having to stick to strict itineraries or wait for others.



A sundowner is an extremely popular safari activity and refers to the practise of having drinks and food after the sun is set. A Namibian sundowner is the perfect way to relax after a long game drive, giving you the chance to marvel at the star-filled sky with a glass of something special in-hand.

The Big Five

The Big Five refers to the elephant, buffalo, rhino, leopard, and the lion. The term derives from ancient hunting parlance because these five animals were commonly regarded as the most difficult to hunt.

The Small Five

At the opposite end of the spectrum the Small Five refers to the elephant shrew, the red-billed buffalo weaver, the rhinoceros beetle, the leopard tortoise and the ant lion.

Wild camp

A wild camp refers to a campsite situated in a natural area. Wild camps often have amenities including toilets and showers, and they can be found across Namibia, particularly in areas close to the Namib desert. Staying at a wild camp is a great way to immerse yourself with mother nature and they can be a budget-friendly accommodation option.

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