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Gorilla Treks Tipping in Rwanda

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I will be doing a Gorilla trek in Rwanda later in the year. I have seen several posts listing the individuals (park rangers, porters, security guards) that company you on the trek. Who and how much are you expected to tip. I understand that the porter is an option, which I will do but how about the others? I get the feeling I am going to be tipped out by the time it is done. Unfortunately, I don't have the finacial means to support everyone but definately what to do my part. Thanks.

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    The porters are usually paid $10 (US) but we paid ours $20. The porters are a lifesaver. My husband could have carried his own bag, but we hired two anyway just to help the locals. We gave $10 each to the trackers (there are usually 3) and $20 to the guide. A good idea is to give the money to the guide beforehand and he made sure that we always had the best vantage point for pictures. We gave $100 to our driver at the end of the trip but he was with us for five days. We didn't tip the guards...we were told they don't expect to be tipped. I didn't feel that we were 'tipped out' by the end of the trip because all of them worked so hard that I didn't have a problem tipping at all. Unlike Egypt, where everyone has their hand out

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    We did two treks in late August 2008. The going rate for a porter is $10/person. An Australian in our group tipped $5/person -- and was told that $10 is expected. (Be sure to have pristine bills for them; they depend on a local merchant to act as a banker and the merchant gives a lower exchange rate for bills that have ANY kind of mark or tear on them.) That said, I would definitely hire a porter - these are former poachers who now make a decent living protecting the gorillas, rather than killing them. Lest you think they're getting rich (by local standards) there is enough demands for these jobs that the porters don't work every day.

    The day of our longer trek (3 hrs. each way) I'd never have made it without my porter -- he was right there any time I needed help or encouragement...and I cheerfully gave him $20. The only person who hadn't hired a porter that day was the one person out of the group who really struggled to make it up the mountain. And she wouldn't have made it if the head guide hadn't taken her by the hand and led her himself. But that meant he had less time to show us things along the way...so it was a bit of a loss for everyone in the group.

    The "recommended" tip for the head gorilla guide was $7/person, but I think we gave $10/person for our shorter trek and $15/person for the longer one. He shares with the other guides. The security guards are not tipped -- and be sure to respect their wishes not to be photographed. On the longer trek the head guide gave us the opportunity (up on the mountain) to tip the trackers. They are the ones who follow the gorillas 24 hrs/day and radio the (sometimes changing) position of the gorillas to your guide. We gave the money to the head guide, who passed it out to the trackers.

    I know it seems, before you go, that you are setting aside vast amounts of cash for tips -- but you won't begrudge it as you go along. As loru100 said, they work really hard to make sure you have a fabulous experience. In Rwanda there is definite poverty, but you find virtually everyone working hard -- and they are determined to pass that work ethic along to their children...one of the reasons they really mean it when they ask you not to give even empty water bottles to kids along the road.

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    Regarding the guards, I don't think they are allowed to accept tips. I tried a couple of times to hand one some money and he refused. After two refusals, I stopped trying, I didn't want to offend him. Maybe because they are actually part of the military, they are not allowed to accept money?

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