Tipping etiquette in foreign places is always so challenging to figure out, at least for me anyway. Your mind is filled with questions: How far does a dollar go here? Am I supposed to tip? Did I tip too little? Did I tip too much? Will they accept foreign currency? Shoot, I ran out of cold hard cash, so now what?
Depending on where you travel, what your background is, what your expectations are, and where you come from, the answers may vary.
I am going to try and break this down in the simplest terms and try to answer those lingering questions.
Before I get to that, I would like to say with confidence that the hospitality in Africa is the best in the world. This comes not only from me, but every one of our clients (many of whom are frequent world travelers). The level of service, care and attention you receive while on safari is hard to compare. The best part is that it is done so authentically, with passion and love and it shows. You become friends with everyone, form a bond, and share stories you can pass on. Your safari or visit to Africa is essentially hollow without the beautiful people that fill it: the guides, the servers, the butlers, the chefs, the drivers, housekeeping staff, landscapers, local artisans, the rangers, and everyone else that you cross paths with.
Now, back to those questions
Am I supposed to tip?
Gratuities while in Africa are not mandatory, but they are customary. This is well understood by those especially from the U.S or Canada where we have a tipping culture. After all, the staff is working tirelessly to make sure you are taken care of to the best of their ability. They do what they do so passionately, with a smile on their face happily engaging with you. So, yes, we encourage tipping, and we encourage our clients to be generous and to show gratitude based on the level of service you feel you received.
Can I tip in foreign currency?
Tipping in foreign currency seems to be preferable, and for us, easier. For example, In Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe the tourism industry is largely operated in $USD. So, it is encouraged to tip in $USD anywhere in Africa - this only makes it easier for you.
In many of the camps/lodges nowadays tips can be left via credit card before you check out, or can be added to your final tab. We have found this to be useful when running out of cash.
How much should I tip?
The key word here is “should” hence, we are only suggesting the amounts below, but you are free to tip as much or as little as you want depending on the quality of service you have received and your budget.
A thank you, a hug, a smile, goes a long way, and if you feel you can’t meet the suggestions below, then tip what you can afford and share your gratitude.
See our comprehensive tipping guide chart below or download it
Can we include the tips/gratuities to our final trip cost?
With the number of people involved in your safari, we have found this to be extremely difficult to accomplish in a way that is fair.
How do I break down how much cash to take for this?
We can help you, but the easiest thing to do is look at your itinerary and break it down by day. Our clients like to separate the tips into envelopes in advance, and then just take the envelopes with them, at least for the main tips, which are the driver/guides, *tracker/spotters, and the general staff.
*You may not always have a tracker or spotter, they are most common in South Africa, and not so common in East Africa.
For example, you are staying at 3 different camps, spending 2 nights at each.
Camp 1 (2 nights) = $10/pp/day (guide) + $10/pp/day (General Staff) = $20/pp/day. Since you are there for 2 nights = $40/pp broken down into two envelopes.
Camp 2 (2 nights): as above
Camp 3 (2 nights): as above
Do I have to tip everyone?
Nope, some of the people who do not require tips:
Pilots, company owners, camp managers, sales staff (shops, etc).
We know this can be complicated, but it is our responsibility to make it as easy for you as possible. Your interactive itinerary will have a tipping guide for each day to make it easy.