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stardogcz Jul 28th, 2006 01:29 PM

What is the preferred method of payment for things such as drinks, tips, and souveniers on safari? U.S. dollars, traveler checks, local currency, credit cards even??

Any info. on preferable payments in Nairobi and Zanzibar will be helpful as well. Just trying to figure out how much cash to bring.

Thanks in advance.

Patty Jul 28th, 2006 01:42 PM

Safari in Kenya? Tanzania?

For Kenya, most lodges and camps except for the smallest ones accept credit cards for payment of incidentals. I usually find that to be most convenient.

Otherwise, if paying in currency, bills are generally presented in Kenyan shillings. If you pay in USD, they'll convert the bill at a rate of their choosing so paying in USD is usually least favorable in terms of exchange rates. However, if the amounts are small and you don't care, don't worry about it.

You can obtain Kenyan shillings at Nairobi airport at one of the exchange bureaus or ATM or at an exchange bureau or ATM in town.

I tip lodge/camp staff in shillings and use shillings for small souvenir purchases but no one will refuse your USD. In Nairobi, use shillings or credit cards.

I think travelers checks may be more of a pain than they're worth. I've only used TCs to pay for my safari balance on arrival but not for anything else.

Patty Jul 28th, 2006 01:44 PM

But you can certainly bring TCs as an emergency back up if you feel more comfortable doing so.

sandi Jul 28th, 2006 01:45 PM

There are so many threads regarding currency in East Africa. A "search" will bring them up.

But, simply - USD work well throughout Tanzania and is actually preferred. In Kenya, both local Kenya Shillings which can be obtained at ATM and/or Currency Exchange Window at baggage claim. Only a small amount needs for purchased. Otherwise, USD are accepted gladly for guides and even camp staff. If any local currency left over you can use for camp staff.

You can pay lodge/camp bills with USD or credit cards, but some places assess a fee for cc use, so verify first. CC can be used for souvenir purchases at lodges/camps... certainly in NBO. In ZNZ, you'll do fine with USD for souvenirs, though most hotels accept credit cards... again verify if there is a fee (even if, it won't be much).

And remember, most all credit cards are not assessing a "foreign currency exchange fee" for purchases even if charged in USD.

But, do a search on this board and you'll find lots and lots and lots of information/threads.

sandi Jul 28th, 2006 01:48 PM

Seems we all have different experiences. Even if bills presented in KSh, the rate of exchange amounts to very little unless, of course, you have a very very large bill, or bending those elbows till very late in the evening. Current exchange is approx. USd$1/70Ksh.

Patty Jul 28th, 2006 01:57 PM

I've seen lodge/camp conversion rates listed at 68 at a time when it was 74 from an ATM. Of course, what looks like a significant difference may not amount to much in the grand scheme of things. It's kind of like comparing gas station prices.

lifelist Jul 28th, 2006 02:11 PM

What always got me in Tanzania was that if I tried to pay with dollars and prices were in Shillings, they would tell me the conversion rate was 1000 Tsh to the dollar. If they listed prices in dollars, and I tried to pay with Shillings, they would say their conversion rate was 1200 Tsh to the dollar.

In retrospect, I would have picked up more shillings than I did so that I could pay in either currency depending on the exchange rate being used.

Btw, only used my credit card a few times where there was no surcharge. Didn't find anyplace to cash travelers checks except in Arusha. Did everything by cash, basically.

nhulberg Jul 30th, 2006 11:02 PM

In Tanzania, I had the problem "lifelist" mentioned (exceedily poor exchange rate), but only a couple of times. Most places the rate was close enough to the official one that I didn't gripe.

I only encountered two places in the country where USD weren't accepted. Surprisingly, both were in Dar in craft shops catering to tourists.

I did bring quite a lot of cash, and didn't use credit cards or ATM except for the few large expenditures we made.

Bring lots of $1 and some $5 will need them for tips.

nhulberg Jul 30th, 2006 11:05 PM

BTW, stardog, if you haven't read it elsewhere, on anything bigger than a $1 bill, be sure to bring only "big head" (i.e. newer) US bills. There is apparently a fair amount of counterfeit money in the country, and the newer US currency is hard to fake.

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