Guide to Tipping on a Safari in Africa

February 2, 2020
Jodi Lucas
Jodi is an adventure enthusiast and Douglas Adams groupie who supports these addictions through travel writing. When she’s not hitting Cape Town’s surf, you’ll find her trawling pre-loved bookstores for a leather-bound volume of The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

For many people on safari in Africa, tipping can be confusing. Gratuity is one of those things that is different all over the world, and it can be awkward trying to figure out etiquette and local customs – especially in a continent as diverse as Africa.

With over 3,000 different ethnic groups speaking more than 2,000 different languages, traveling in Africa introduces you to a whole new world of culture and history. Without a bit of research into the specific country you’re visiting, it can be tough to figure out what is expected of you as a guest. There are plenty of things you need to know before you go on an overland tour in Africa – especially when it comes to tipping. With this in mind, we’ve created a complete guide to tipping in Africa to help you better plan and budget for your safari.

If you need more budgeting tips for your trip to Africa, read our guide on How to budget for a safari in Africa. And, if you want to do more than give an amazing tip, check out our guide on how to travel responsibly in Africa to have a positive impact while exploring this exciting continent.

Tipping etiquette in Africa

Tourism is a key driver of the African economy accounting for 8.1% of the GDP with many people in the industry relying quite heavily on gratuity. Tipping is firmly entrenched in the tourism industry in Africa and you shouldn’t have to feel awkward about it at all. Gratuity contributes a substantial amount toward ensuring that those working behind the scenes to make your travels a success earn a livable wage. But you should never feel obliged to leave a tip if the service you received was unprofessional or inadequate.

Who do you tip while on safari and how to determine how much to tip in Africa

Who to tip in Africa is not very different from other continents. Generally speaking, you should tip back of house staff such as cooks, porters, and cleaners, as well as the front of house staff such as guides, spotters or trackers, waiters and waitresses, and transfer drivers. 10% gratuity is a great starting place when determining how much to tip on safari.

Guide to tipping in africa

The tipping jar or kitty while on a group tour

How to give tips is another ticky and often awkward experience. From leaving money in your room when you check out to handing cash to individuals and adding on something extra to your credit card on your final bill – every camp or lodge has its system that you have to navigate.

While these are easy to do, it can still be uncomfortable for some. Thankfully, most camps and lodges will have a tipping jar or kitty which eliminates any awkwardness and does not allow staff to know how much specific guests tipped them. These tipping jars are either separated for guides, back of house, and front of house or accumulated together and shared out at the end of the trip when everyone has departed.

Tipping on Safari considerations:

Guide to Tipping at safari lodges

At every safari lodge, there are many people hard at work behind the scenes to make your stay as comfortable as possible. Most lodges have tipping advice and guidelines, so feel free to ask the reception or manager about their tipping policy. Generally speaking, there is often a communal tip ‘jar’ for this and a reasonable rate to go on is USD10 to 20 per person per day.

Tipping safari guides

Your safari guide will be your go-to person while on a game drive in Africa and are essential to the success of your safari. They’re responsible for keeping you safe in the wild, point out the often near-hidden animals that you traveled all this way to see and are chock full of interesting information about the wildlife and region. It is customary to leave a USD10 tip per person per day for your safari guide and is usually given at the end of your safari.

About Tipping safari trackers

Safari trackers accompany rangers on game drives and are the eyes and the ears of your safari. In other words, all those epic wildlife photos you’ve captured are largely thanks to these guys and tipping is always a great way to show appreciation. Tips for trackers are usually USD 5 per person per day.

Tippin on safari

Tipping in restaurants and bars

Tipping in restaurants and bars is considered the norm in Africa and waiters still rely on gratuity to make a livable income. For waiters, a 10-15% tip on the bill total is considered normal. Some restaurants may automatically add on a service charge for larger tables so it’s important to check your bill before adding on a tip. For bartenders, it is recommended to tip at least 10% of the bill for large orders. If you’re paying per drink then 1 to 2 USD should be sufficient.

Details on Tipping at the airport and hotels in Africa

At hotels and airports, 1 USD per item of luggage is an appropriate tip for porter service, but consider tipping more for awkward or really heavy loads. If you wish to tip the hotel maids, around 3-5 USD is a suitable amount.

Tipping drivers and transfers

In Africa you’ll generally find two types of taxis; kombis and metered taxis. It’s not usually customary to tip both types of taxi drivers. But a small gratuity of +- 1 USD for longer rides is always welcomed, especially if your final destination is way out of town. Uber is also common in major cities and tips are not customary in this instance.

Tipping drivers

About Tipping at petrol stations

Petrol (gas) attendants are pretty unique to Africa. These unsung heroes fill up your vehicle, clean your windscreen, check the oil, water and tire pressure. While a tip is not compulsory, a small tip is welcomed, preferably in local currency (e.g. ZAR5 in South Africa)

Guide to Tipping car guards

Car guards are another fairly unique African feature. Some of these guards are hired by the city and others are others may be doing it of their own accord and their tips may be their sole income. When it comes to tipping car guards, a small tip in local currency should be sufficient and it is recommended to only tip when you return to your car.

Tipping Guidelines by Country in Africa:

About Tipping on Safari in Tanzania

Tipping is customary on a safari in Tanzania. For those working in the service industry, including waiters, guides and trackers, tips can form a significant part of their income.

Currency to tip in: It’s most common to tip in cash, both Tanzanian shillings and US dollars are accepted.

How much to tip in Tanzania: We recommend tipping +- 8–10 USD per guest per day for a group guide, about 5–10 USD per guest per day for a safari chef, +- 2 USD per guest per day for the general staff and +- 3USD per city transfer.

Tipping Kilimanjaro: Tipping while climbing Kilimanjaro is usually done as a group rather than per person. The recommended tipping amount for Kilimanjaro is as follows:

  • Per guide – US$20-25 per day
  • Per assistant guide – US$15-20 per day
  • Per cook – US$15 per day
  • Per porter – US$10 per day

Tipping in Tanzania

Tipping Kenya

Tipping in restaurants and bars isn’t customary everywhere in Kenya, but in Nairobi and on the coast a gratuity culture has been well established. Still, the choice of how much to tip is all yours.

Currency to tip in: Tipping in local currency (Kenyan Shillings) is preferred as the currency exchange is expensive.

How much to tip in Kenya: For Kenya safari and tour guides at camps and lodges, a tip of 10 to 15USD per person per day is recommended, and tip half that amount for half-day activities. Porters at hotels usually tipped 50-100 shillings (+- 1 USD). And, hotel maids are accustomed to receiving 200-500 shillings (+- 1 to 3 USD) for a whole week of service.

Guide to Tipping in Uganda

Tipping in Uganda is firmly entrenched in the tourism and service industry and helps boost local income. Generally speaking, workers in the industry earn very low wages, and gratuity forms a big part in helping them provide their family’s necessities.

Currency to tip in: The local currency is the Ugandan shilling (USh), though USD is widely accepted. In remote areas, it’s recommended to tip in local currency as foreign exchange can be difficult and costly.

How much to tip in Uganda: In restaurants, it is common to tip USh1000 to USh1500 in Uganda. Tips for safari rangers and guides in national parks are usually between USh5000 to USh10,000.

Tipping on a gorilla trek: It is not obligatory to tip on your gorilla trek in Uganda, but leaving a tip is usually a sign of appreciation of good service given to you by your guide. For gorilla trekking guides, we recommend tipping between 5-10 USD per person per day at the end of your tour.

Tipping on Safari in Botswana

Tipping in Botswana is always voluntary and should depend on the quality of service received. However, gratuity can be a significant part of the income of those in service industries, including waiters, guides and trackers.

Currency to tip in: We recommend you tip in Botswana Pula (BWP) in remote areas and while on tour however US dollars are widely accepted at lodges.

How much to tip in Botswana: It is customary to tip guides/drivers 10 USD per person per day, camp or lodge staff 10USD per guest per day (usually placed in a communal box) and transfer drivers and porters 3USD.

Tipping your mokoro poler in the Delta: It’s common to tip mokoro polers and 50 Pula (5USD) is considered the norm.

Tipping Botswana

About Tipping in South Africa

Tipping is widely practiced and expected in South Africa, both by locals and tourists. However, you should never feel obliged to tip if the service you received is poor.

Currency to tip in: Tips should be done in Rands and cash is preferred. Tipping by card is also appreciated, but the service staff member usually only receives it by the end of the week or month.

How much to tip in South Africa: As a rule of thumb, a 10% tip is a good starting point in restaurants and bars. On safari, it is customary to tip guides between R100 to R200 per day depending on the size of your group.

Tipping in Cape Town: Tipping in Cape Town follows the same process as the rest of South Africa. 10% of the bill is usually standard, however, if the service has been outstanding then higher percentages are always appreciated.

Tipping on Safari in Zimbabwe

Tipping in Zimbabwe is not compulsory but always appreciated, and the amount generally depends on your satisfaction with the service provided.

Currency to tip in: As of June 2019 the US dollar, South African rand and all other foreign currencies are no longer considered legal tender throughout Zimbabwe. The only accepted currency is the Zimbabwe Dollar.

How much to tip in Zimbabwe: It’s customary to tip waiters in restaurants 10 to 15% of the bill amount and to give car guards who watch over your car in supermarket or shopping mall car parks US$1.

Tipping local guides

Guide to Tipping on Safari in Zambia

Tipping is not as expected in Zambia as it is in most parts of the world. However, we encourage rewarding great service with a gratuity as tips make a significant positive impact on the salary of those working in the service industry.

Currency to tip in: The preferred currency to tip in is USD, and cash is generally the most accepted method.

How much to tip in Zambia: As a rough guideline, we suggest tipping 10USD per person per day for your ranger and tracker and 25USD to be divided amongst the rest of the lodge staff. When it comes to restaurants, some establishments will add a service charge for your bill; if not, 10% is standard.

Tipping on Safari in Namibia

Tipping is not compulsory in Nambia but recommended. Most lodges will suggest tipping amounts for guides, trackers and housekeeping staff which is usually an amount per day. It’s customary to leave a tip at the end of your stay, especially for guides and trackers.

Currency to tip in: The currency of Namibia is the Namibia Dollar. This is tied to the South African Rand and 1 ZAR = 1 N$ and both are used freely in Namibia.

How much to tip in Namibia: As a rule of thumb, a specialist safari guide is tipped from N$100 per guest per day. It is also a nice gesture to tip general camp/lodge staff; here we recommend about N$30 per guest per day. Like South Africa, Namibia also has car guards and petrol attendants, we recommend tipping them between 2 to 3 Namibian Dollars.

 

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