Kenya Safari Tipping

Reply

Dec 20th, 2013, 11:06 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,147
Kenya Safari Tipping

DH , I and two friends will be on a private safari in Kenya this February. This will be our first trip to Africa. We are trying to figure out the tipping issue. Do the driver/guides/wait staff, etc. prefer tips in USD or Kenyan Shillings? Any advice on this or the customs in general would be greatly appreciated.
BarbAnn is online now  
Reply With Quote
Dec 21st, 2013, 03:15 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 346
US dollars will be fine. Even if buying souvenirs somewhere outside the camp system US dollars are accepted everywhere. I never changed any money while there and had no problem.
Cateyes555 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 21st, 2013, 09:06 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,691
I'm curious about this. We easily used US$ in Tanzania in February (where we were told this was accepted practice) but I've been instructed by my TO and have read in other forums that Kenyan camp staff would rather have Kenyan shillings than US$. Any more feedback on this?
amyb is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 21st, 2013, 09:36 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
After 18/yrs traveling to both Kenya and Tanzania, last year was the first that I exchanged a small amount (= USD$150) to local KSh or TSh. For use mostly when in NBO where this is the preferred currency if purchasing small items at a market and likewise if/when in Arusha.

Otherwise, it's been USD. The guides have no issues with these as they're regularly in NBO or Arusha and can easily exchange to their currency, just as we do at the same rates (maybe better if they have actual bank accounts). The gratuities left for staff are divided/distributed by management. An ATM at airport provides best rates. There are also Forex offices, where those in town seem to have better rates than those at airport though not by alot of difference.

Be certain if you have exchanged USD into local currency, use all before departing the country as it can be difficult to do so at airport/s, and sure a PIA once home. Unless you like to give kids who love stamps and foreign currency (smaller denominations) from other countries as trinket of your holiday.

It probably wouldn't surprise that those who do receive USD, to hide them under the mattress for future use when exchange rates are to their benefit. Believe me, no one will say 'no' to a gratuity in USD.
sandi is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 21st, 2013, 11:48 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,802
I tip in Kenyan shillings so the camp staff won't need to exchange currency plus I get most of my cash spending money out of an ATM anyway. Also it's helpful to have shillings for shopping/restaurants/taxis in Nairobi.

If you decide to tip in USD, make sure they're newer bills. Older bills are difficult/impossible to exchange.
Patty is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 23rd, 2013, 06:39 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Newer bills and nearly perfect bills, if USD. No writing, rips, or extreme wear. Sometimes it takes me 2 trips to my local to get enough nice, new bills, especially $1 USD.

Take a couple of envelopes to put the tips in.

ATMs--I prefer to use them over kiosk exchanges but once in a while there is a problem. On my last trip (not Africa) my card was not compatible with any ATMs I found or my local guide found, even though the card had worked on 4 continents in much more remote locations just fine. I always have enough cash to exchange and don't rely on the ATM.
atravelynn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 29th, 2013, 02:36 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 10
It does depend on access the person has to exchange facilities. We've had quite a few instances of Maasai who have been tipped in USD and have not been able to change it to KES and asked us if we could help. Or they get a lousy rate because they have to change it far from Nairobi where someone has the monopoly on FX. Your driver will be OK with USD, but if you are going to have some "local cultural experiences" that are paid for directly to the community, then perhaps some local currency is useful. I'm also wary of buying souvenirs with USD as the exchange rate the vendors give can be quite disadvantageous to the customer. But either way you pay, there will still be a negotiation on the price
Tracey_Bell is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 29th, 2013, 08:16 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 346
Tracey - do you really care whether a souvenir costs $5 or $10 USD?? I don't go to Africa with the idea of bargaining some poor artisan down to the bare minimum cost for some item. I really don't care if someone before me haggled the price down lower than what I paid. Given the overall cost of an African safari and the desperate need of locals, I'm seriously _not_ worried about what I pay to bring some trinket home.
Cateyes555 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 29th, 2013, 04:12 PM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,691
I'd love to know where those $5-10 trinkets are! My one and only experience buying from locals had us "negotiate" for three items from $200 to $120. I'm all for supporting locals which is why we bought from them anyway but what we got was definitely not worth that!!

What Tracey says about staff not being able to get good exchange rates where they live and work is exactly what I've read and have been told by others I work with who have come back. I'm still leaning towards getting money from the ATM when I land for that purpose.
amyb is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 3rd, 2014, 03:56 PM
  #10
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 8,290
In Kenya I've mostly tipped in shillings that I've withdrawn from an ATM, though when I've run short I've used USD.

Have a great trip! Kenya is gorgeous.
Leely2 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 4th, 2014, 10:51 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
Guess it depends on what one considers a 'trinket'

A bracelet (beaded, carved, leather) or one of those amazing necklaces the Masai women wear?*. The latter are rather costly, the former are not.

*no doubt you'll hang it, but know these do weigh quite a bit when packing to return home; I'm amazed how some of the gals can wear these when often wearing more than one.
sandi is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 7th, 2014, 07:24 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 346
I probably shouldn't have said $5-10 for a trinket, but... who cares if a souvenir costs $5-10 more through not changing US dollars to Kenyan schillings....
Cateyes555 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 7th, 2014, 08:33 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,691
I don't care about the additional $5-10 cost to me, but if I pay in USD and aforementioned poor artisans or villagers either can't exchange that to KSh or get a worse rate than I would if I'd make the exchange myself, I would feel bad about that. My decision is more around my taking the foreign exchange hit and inconvenience (which is likely to be less felt by me) than them.
amyb is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 7th, 2014, 09:09 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 346
When I was in Tanzania (not Kenya) vendors actually _refused_ TZ schillings - they only wanted US dollars! My travel companion got really annoyed that she had traded some US dollars for Tz money and then couldn't easily use it
Cateyes555 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 7th, 2014, 10:30 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,691
Yes, my experience in Kenya was that we paid everything in USD, and were advised not to bother getting local currency. It seems more inconsistent in Kenya.
amyb is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 7th, 2014, 11:42 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,802
Tanzania is different than Kenya. In Tanzania, we used USD as well.
Patty is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 7th, 2014, 06:08 PM
  #17
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,691
^^ sorry I meant my experience in Tanzania was different, posted on the fly....
amyb is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:37 PM.