On your African safari, it is customary, not mandatory, to give a tip to someone in gratitude for the excellent service. The tip amount is relative to the guest’s level of satisfaction with the host’s services.
Some guests may find tipping an unnecessary expense because safari is expensive enough. The team of people responsible for experience, safety, health, nutrition, and comfort often work in very unlivable circumstances. The remote location of safari lodges makes operations quite expensive and pulls staff away from their families for weeks to take care of strangers.
The incredible behind-the-scenes operations to you an unforgettable experience are often underestimated. A tip is a wonderful recognition of that extra care.
The ground operators who usually deserve your tip are locals. Staff at lodges, guides, porters, drivers, and other service people come from local communities surrounding the attractions. A tip is a direct way to financially support those people, their families, and their communities.
Fortunately, you can determine how much you want to support the locals and be part of the growing sustainable travel movement.
We highly recommend our travelers give their tips in local currencies, although the US dollar is a great alternative. Honestly, all currencies will be gratefully received. However, the smaller the bills and the more unusual the currency, the more the recipient will likely lose when converting them into local currency.
When you get to the destination, change your cash into local currency small bills at the airport forex shop. Also, note the exchange rate, so you know how much to tip on a safari.
How much to tip is usually defined by factors like the traveler’s tipping culture, budget, and level of service satisfaction, among others. These factors make it challenging to determine the tip amount accurately.
Nonetheless, any level of gratitude will be highly appreciated. If you are unsure how much to tip, you can simply ask your trip manager or lodge manager.
The above prices are not set in stone. You can go higher considering the level of satisfaction with the service or budget as discussed earlier but do not over-tip.
It is very generous to offer very large tips, but there is a certain point over which the tip becomes counter-productive, foolish, or even insulting.
Confusion about the local currency exchange rate is the common cause of the over-tipping bug. It would be outrageous to tip a guide ten or a hundred times worth because you misestimated the exchange rate.
When exchanging your money at the forex shop, note the exchange rate in a place you can easily reference when tipping, like your phone. Exchange rates in different destinations can be challenging to remember because you are used to paying in your home currency.
You are bound to be dupped if you ask your service person how much you should tip them. They could dream up all kinds of ways in which they can convince you to give them a big tip. Some scams are quite convincing, especially to rich folk who don’t mind much about their expenses.
The main danger of regular over-tipping is that it erodes the respect local people have for travelers and erects rather than breaks down cultural barriers. Travelers are then viewed less as people and more as ATMs. Big tips break the relationship between the host and the guest, an essential element of a wonderful holiday.
Guides can make or break your holiday because they are the people who directly connect you with local culture, people, and your experience with wildlife. They usually get the bigger tips.
We recommend between $10 to $20 per couple per day. You can give it directly to the driver at the end of the safari. For day excursions like gorilla trekking or chimpanzee trekking, you can give the guide your tip at the end of the excursion.
Lodge service staff like your butler, room service, and butler ensure you are comfortable during your stay. Tip them directly at the end of your visit. Or you can leave your general tip for the entire staff with the lodge manager.
Most lodges operate a staff tip box strategically placed in the central area. Using the communal tip box is the best way to give to everyone that contributed to your experience. And it eliminates the uncomfortable tipping awkwardness.
You can tip each service staff $10 to $15 per day or more if you think they deserve it.
Most African safari activities have day staff like excursion guides and trekking staff. For example, on a gorilla trekking excursion, you will have one tracker, two armed rangers, and a porter. Each person is essential to managing your experience in an unfriendly rainforest jungle.
The tracker will find you the best route to the mountain gorillas, the rangers will ensure your security, and the porter will carry your stuff. At the end of the excursion or trekking trip, give each between $10 to $15 or even more.
On most African safaris, you will have the same transfer driver as your safari guide. If that is the case, refer to how to tip safari guides above. Otherwise, offer your airport transfer guide $5 to $10 bucks, particularly if they were friendly and went out of their way to make you feel welcome.
Many lodges have a communal tip box in the main area or mess. It is usually a small box hagged the wall, and it has a lock to restrict access and a small rectangular hole on top where guests can drop in cash tips. Some lodges have separate boxes for front and back-end staff, and others have different boxes for guides, trackers, and general service staff.
Dropping your tip in the box means you won’t have anxiety about watching the receiver’s reaction to your gratuity. The manager usually shares the tip equally at accumulated intervals, and many travelers prefer eliminating this unknown. You can drop your tip in the appropriate box or give it to the lodge manager.
Some safari lodges may not have a communal tip box. You can leave your tip to the manager to distribute at their discretion. Or give them directives to whom the money must be provided.
Some travelers prefer handing cash directly to the receiver. We highly recommend tipping field operators like guides, trackers, rangers, and street help directly after the service. It can be at the end of the excursion, right after the service, or at the end of the trip.
Put your tip in an envelope or fold the money and put it in their hands when you reach out to thank them for their services. It could be the last thing you exchange with them.
You can also leave the cash in your room when you check out. However, we do not recommend it because staff may assume you’ve forgotten the money and try to reach you to return it. Room service staff are trained not to ‘steal’ and recover anything they find in your room to the lodge manager.
Some lodges allow guests to add the tip to the Credit Card bill; ask your safari operator before taking this option. When paying for your bar or craft-shop bill, ask the manager to allow you to add the staff tip. It saves many travelers who want to tip generously but don’t have enough cash.
It is always best to tip just once at the end of the activity, at the end of the day, or the end of the trip. And definitely, at the end of your stay at each lodge.
Tipping during the activity or service could trigger the service person to perform for the reward and could spoil the host-guest relationship. Other guests may find it uncomfortable to match your unusual behavior.
Please avoid beggars and encourage them. Avoid dissing out money for nothing on your African safari, especially to kids who are particularly vulnerable to becoming beggars. At least stop and engage the person before offering anything to them.
Let us help you with all the questions about planning your African Safari. We know the local logistics and have the expertise to operate safari holidays for over a decade. Trust our safari consultants to help you plan your lifetime safari holiday.
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