Best Currancy to Take?

Aug 17th, 2004, 04:55 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 29
Best Currancy to Take?

I will be traveling in Tanzania and Kenya in September. It is worth bothering to take Travel Checks? Other than the airport I don't see how I would be able to cash them. If I cash them at the airport, I will still be carrying cash the entire trip. Is it best to just take U.S. currancy. How small should the bills be. I want to be able to buy souvenirs. How much should I take for a 17 trip?
Lucretia is offline  
Aug 18th, 2004, 07:12 AM
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Why not make the ATM your main source of cash, thus take it out as you need it. Surely the machines will be available everywhere you go.

Carry $300 min. in travellers check - normally hotels will cash them, for a fee. Just as back-up.

Take $200 US cash, small bills ... depending on where you go, you can perhaps use US cash for tips.

Plan to use your VISA card for charges - AmEx is dicey in many places.
Aug 18th, 2004, 12:42 PM
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Do not depend solely on ATMs in Kenya and Tanzania. While you will find these in Nairobi, Arusha, Dar, Mombassa and Zanzibar - you won't find any out on the savannahs. So you'll have to get whatever local currency you need before you head out on safari.

In urban cities (Nairobi, Kili/Arusha, etc.) you can tip hotel staff in USD. Your guide/driver or guide will prefer USD for his tips. For camp staff (waiters, porters, housekeeping) you can use local currency which is put into a TipBox (shared by all) found at Reception at conclusion of your stay at particular lodge/camp. You can pay your incidental charges (bar, laundry) by Credit Card, but often the lodge/camp will assess a transaction fee, so use USD or local currency. If you happen to make major souvenir purchases you can pay with CC, but again, be aware of the transaction fee.

For souvenirs/trinkets you might purchase while on the road, you'll find the vendors prefer USD and don't forget to negotiate, negotiate, negotiate!

I cannot tell you how much USD currency to take with you - figure out what you will need x the number of days, then add some for souvenirs. But whatever you decide, these should be in small denominations - lots of $1s, then $5s, $10s & $20s; the larger bills to be used for your guide/driver. And though you won't need "newly minted" bills, the bills shouldn't be torn or washed and preferrable those the new faces and the tri-colored bills, and not more than 2-yrs old. Yes, many locals actually look at dates on bills, feeling they may have lost their value. Hey, this is Africa - nothing should surprise you.

I always take Travelers Checks which are for emergency use only. Since I haven't encountered any emergencies, these go right back into the bank when I return home. Hope this helps.
Aug 18th, 2004, 12:53 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 34

Do you have any advice on how much to tip folks...drivers, staff, room service etc...I have NO idea what tip amounts would be appropriate. I guess I am looking for averages.

toccare_girl is offline  
Aug 18th, 2004, 01:00 PM
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Very long discussion of tip guidelines a month or so ago. Try a research. Your agent can spell it out as well. BTW, frined just returned from Tanzania and Kenya, and ATMs were convenient every place they went. Of course, the lodges without power obviously don't have ATM, so stock up on cash beforehand. And they normally do not take AmEx at lodges, so have the VISA card with you.
Aug 18th, 2004, 01:16 PM
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toccare_girl -

May I be so personal to ask who your tour operator is? I cannot believe, regardless what someone is paying for their trip, but especially considering your particular itinerary, that you haven't received this information from them.

Yes, there were some great threads recently regarding tipping in Africa. Do a search on this board and you should find plenty of information on this subject.
Aug 18th, 2004, 01:36 PM
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May I recap the suggestions of others: this is pp, per day, and are also minimums (which means if you received excellent service, you could always increase the tip):

Your ranger $5 plus
A tracker in your vehicle - $3 plus
Paddler - $3
General staff $3-$4 (tip box in lobby)
$2-3$ for each load washed.

Some may tip administration for a special service - your option.

Keep in mind some seasoned travelers almost double these amounts as a matter of course. Again, ask your agent for guidelines, but the information I've provided is accurate.

Take small bills - US cash. I also take envelopes and notepaper to leave a note with the tip.
Aug 18th, 2004, 02:49 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 34

We booked with CCAfrica, I guess I never asked him about tipping but I sure will shoot him an email now! Thanks for the heads up!
toccare_girl is offline  
Aug 19th, 2004, 05:45 AM
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Can't figure out why the tour operators don't sent out pertinent information as soon as they've received your final payments? Amazing.

Besides the list you get from CCA, most all camps have information re tipping available in their rooms/tents. But since most, if not all your properties, the CCA numbers might be higher.

Unlikely, you will have trackers or paddlers in East Africa; believe your laundry will be comp at the CCA properties.

Also to note, while most vehicles in East Africa are pop-tops, most of the CCA properties use open vehicles, so suggest you have a bandana should they pick up lots of dust; and since open it will be chilly if not downright cold on morning and evening game drives. Remember the scarf, hat, gloves and socks.

You should be set to go!
Aug 19th, 2004, 06:56 AM
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Also suggest you access the Wilderness Safaris web site. Their currect recommendations pp/pd: Game specialists $5; lodge staff $3; in a hotel, housekeeping $1-$2; Porters $1 per bag; paddlers and trackers $3.

Hope this is useful. Have a good trip.
Aug 19th, 2004, 09:05 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 207
We take mostly fives and tens when we travel. We take 30 dollars in ones than the rest in 20s. We also counted up our tips by day, so we could reduce the number of bills we needed carry - since ones are bulky.
JackieSun is offline  
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