How much should you tip your guide on African wildlife safaris? This is a perennial question. The overwhelming majority of staff in the tourist industry in Africa rely on tips, whatever the country. To complicate things a bit, guides and trackers are usually tipped separately.
It is generally better to tip in the local currency but is not always the case. Make it a point to ask the local management how they deal with tips and what currency is most preferred. Camp managers are happy to advise and their answers might change according to exchange rate fluctuations and like you and me, they’ll naturally, and rightfully so, ask for the currency which is strongest.
The following guidelines are based on normal gratuities excepted from western travelers. The majority of African safari countries accept US and Euro’s for gratuities. It is best to plan ahead and take an adequate supply of home currency in small denominations. Larger denominations may prove useful for larger purchases however; remote game lodges will not have enough of your currency to make change.
An African wildlife safaris general rule-of-thumb would be US$20 per day. Ten dollars to the guide, five to the tracker, and five to all other staff. Tip the guides and trackers individually (after all they are the ones who brought you to the most amazing wildlife you’ve ever seen!) and then leave a combined tip to split among the majority of the other staff. This includes the private transfers to and from the airport and hotels, transfers to restaurants, etc. Give these gratuities at the time service is provided. A normal transfer tip is two American dollars per person. In some cases a box may be provided with management where tips can be left for camp staff to split.
As you’ll soon discover for yourself, it is hard to imagine over tipping. The camp staff work incredibly hard for the services they provide on African wildlife safaris, thus anyone else who stands out and proves to be exceptional might just deserve a tip too. Tip as you would in your home country. For example, if you’re from North America tipping is normally 10-15% depending on the service and quality served. Practice responsible travel and remember to share accordingly to the experience you’ve been given.
And of course Namibia self-drive safaris will be different than a fly-in tour to several different lodges in Botswana. Again the 10-15% of total costs is applied no matter whether you’re dining out in Windhoek or being transferred across a mokoro in the Okavango Delta.
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