Tipping in Africa
Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda are countries that are growing and developing rapidly by global standards, and so the relative value of currency is gradually beginning to come in line with the rest of the world.
Whilst tipping in Africa is not compulsory, it is highly recommended. It ensures a comfortable living wage for those working in the service industry, from the professional guides who lead your safari, to the cleaners who plump your pillows on your return.
As like any other time you give a tip, it should be done on merit. A general global practice is the better the experience, the greater the tip. With this in mind, we have put a few recommendations below as to what we tell our clients to budget, but, if in doubt, the best practice is definitely to talk to the camp manager and see what he recommends.
Tipping on safari
Who to tip?
Behind each safari camp is a team of dedicated staff who work together to make your experience the best it can be. Whilst the guides and managers are the front faces of your safari, there are plenty of faces ‘behind the scenes’ that are equally involved, including housekeeping staff, cooks, cleaners and Askaris (the guards on lookout, who walk you back to your tent at night).
We recommend a tip of $10-15 per person per day for your guide/drive and $5-10 per person per day for the cook and camp staff when staying in camps on safari. If your guide is exceptional good, then please feel free to tip more! We usually don’t recommend tipping the managers, but if they offer an outstanding service, then why not!
When to tip?
Your guides won’t expect you to tip after each activity, so don’t feel like you need to. It is usually best practice to tip them directly at the end of the day, or at the end of your stay in the camp. You can opt to give the tip to the camp manager to pass on, but it is a bit more personal if you tip the guides directly!
For the other members of the team, there is normally a tip box in the main areas or reception of most properties where you can discretely put the tip at the end of your stay there. The tips in here will be divided equally between the staff.
How to tip?
The most common way to tip is by leaving cash – ideally US dollars or the local currency (Tanzanian shillings, Kenyan shilling or Rwandan franc). Some camps offer the option to tip by credit card, but this limits you to tipping individually to the guides or staff. Another disadvantage to this is that the connection on credit card machines can be quite sporadic and there are usually high surcharges (5-7%) attached to each payment.
A good tip (see what I did there), for those wanting to think ahead, is to bring a couple of small envelopes or cards. This gives you the chance to write a few words to say thank you for an overall, or specific experience. This is a great idea for families if the guide has been particularly patient or fun with the children. We had a family who recently travelled to the Serengeti, and praised their guide enormously as they sang a different Lion King song every time they saw simba!
Tipping on the beach
For the beach properties, we recommend a tip of $5 per day per room that can be shared between the staff accordingly. At the end of your trip, we recommend putting your tip in the communal ‘tip box’, or alternatively, giving it to the lodge manager. We also recommend bringing smaller notes with you (i.e. 1 or 5 US dollar notes, or local currency) so that you can give small tips out regularly if you prefer.
Please note that all tips are discretionary and can be put discreetly into a communal box at the end of the stay for the camp staff. The above are simply recommendations.