Additional costs on safari?

Apr 5th, 2005, 08:13 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 40
Additional costs on safari?

We are in the planning stages of a Safari in Sept / Oct to South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia. We were wondering if most of the lodges are "all-inclusive", what costs are usually not accounted for within lodging prices and what type of purchases can / should be made along the way? I know the focus is to see and photograph the animals (which were extremely excited about but...)

I mean, are there crafts, native items which we shoud not leave Africa without (keeping within the luggage limits of course!).

Thanks in advance,

cindymac is offline  
Apr 5th, 2005, 10:37 PM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 87
Tips will be your biggest extra cost. Look out for state or community shops selling local crafts. This way it helps to put money back in the the local community where it is most need and there prices are normally fixed and fair.
Photos of our travels around Africa.
rdkr is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 12:16 AM
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rdkr gives very sound advice. You should allow a minimum of about $30 per day for tipping (spread out between the guide, tracker, housekeeping, manager/managing couple and general staff).

I also agree that you should be supportive of the community shops. I bought this great whatchamacallit (the thing that you hang over a baby's crib) for my best friend's son (I am not paternal enough to be the Godfather, thank heavens). This was from Mfuwe near South Luangwa. I had forgotten all about it, so it was a thrill to see it for the first time the other day. It has individually wooden carved and hand painted animals, each hanging from a string. While I am sure this would cost a minimum of $25 here, if one could even find it, it only cost $10 over there and helped support the local community.

There are really some nice things available, from table cloths, to original artwork (paintings, carvings, etc.) to hand-painted t-shirts, to baskets and other weaved goods.
Roccco is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 04:09 AM
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Wow - $30/day in tips!! I was budgeting $10 a day per person traveling (there are 2 of us)- $5 for driver and $5 for hotel/camp.
Silivia is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 04:23 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
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First of all let me say I tip well on my trips BUT it does bother me that the expected tip seems quite generous to me. and is expected. I would certainly prefer to pay more up front and only tip for exceptional service when I go on tours.
pezzhull is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 05:14 AM
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I believe the $30/day is per couple (Roccco please clarify). But remember that in Southern Africa, you have various combinations of people to tip, such as:
- a ranger (who drives the vehicle; similar to guide/driver in East Africa)
- a spotter (who spots, rare, but some found in East Africa)
- a polers in the Delta (for mokoro rides)
- butler (provided at some camps who does whatever you need a butler to do - pack/unpack clothing, draw your baths, bring drinks to your tent - this will vary depending on location
- camp staff - that can include: porters, waiters, kitchen staff/chefs, maids

USD$5 for guide/driver is usual, as is USD$5 for camp staff. But depending on the country you are visiting, keep in mind the additional people who might be in residence to provide services. So one adjusts their tips accordingly - at some places it's an extra $5, in others this might not be necessary. And if someone goes out of their way to assist with negotiating when making purchases, brings extra linens/towels, prepares something special from the kitchen - a gratuity would be nice and should be considered.

While many of the people who live at specific camps/lodges do get their room/board, their compensations are low, so tips are greatly appreciated.

This is not unlike waiterstaff at restaurants in the US, who have low salaries, many below minimum wage and depend on tips.

Of course, no one should feel obligated to tip if services haven't been to your liking, but you should prepare for all... more then likely you may not have to spend what you've allowed for this purpose. It's better to have more, then less and not being able to tip for those deserving.
Apr 6th, 2005, 05:49 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553

Yes, I was speaking about $30 per couple, which I believe should be the bare minimum.

I believe the guide should receive at least $10 per day.

I believe the tracker should receive at least $5 per day.

I believe the manager/managing couple should receive at least $10 per day.

I believe the rest of staff should be left a minimum of $5 per day.

That amount to $30 per couple per night, minimum.

No matter how much one pays upfront, it does not change the fact that at even the nicer camps, the pay is not much more than $1 USD per day, at least not until a person becomes a tracker or manager of some sort.

The average price that one is paying for an "all-inclusive" safari lodge is likely around $500 pp per night sharing, for a total of $1,000 per night. Is 3% on top of that really unreasonable for the people that need the money the most?

$30 - $50 per night per couple is an appropriate tip, in my opinion.
Roccco is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 06:15 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Is it customary to tip the manager/managing couple? Does this only apply to Southern Africa? I've never heard of this for East Africa. I would think that the managers are well compensated and therefore would not be tipped, just as you wouldn't tip managerial level staff elsewhere in the world, but perhaps I don't understand how it works there.
Patty is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 06:32 AM
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Perhaps others may do it differently, but the only time I do not tip the manager/managing couple is when they are the owners of the lodge.

While the managing couple/manager may be well compensated in comparison to the indigenous workers, it still does not compare to a "Western" salary.
Roccco is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 08:44 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 244
We will be in camps in Botswana, should we tip with Rand or US dollars or ??
Also, wondered about any small useful items we could bring along that could be given as gifts.
Perhaps something indigious from the state of Oregon in which we live??
wallybrenda is offline  
Apr 6th, 2005, 09:11 AM
Join Date: Dec 2004
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I will be in Southern Africa in mid-late September travelling with International Expeditions who suggested the following tipping guidelines:
$8 per person/per day for game ranger in Namibia and Botswana, $5 per person for mokoko poler in Botswana and $5 per person/per night that gets split among the camp staff in Namibia and Botswana. I will also be in Cape Town & Vic Falls and the recommended tips there were $5 per person/per day for the driver/guide. I think this is plenty.
Lolo12 is online now  
Apr 6th, 2005, 09:50 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Tipping in South Africa is best in Rand - there are ATM's at the airport.
Tipping in Botswana is usually done in $.
I generally do $10 per day for Ranger and $5 per day for tracker, and $5 per day for camp staff.
I have not tipped management before, assuming they received a decent salary. I tend to tip heavy especially when service has been excellent. At Mala Mala I will usually tip our bar man (takes exceptional care of us and flattery gets him everywhere, he also usually has the cricket scores available) and often the servers we see the most get a little additional tip from me in addition to the general camp gratuity.

Everything is of course up to you and you should only tip if you think the service has been of the right standard. On one occasion I did not tip a guide and tracker at a camp because of the poor service.
napamatt is offline  

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