Old Oct 28th, 2005, 07:07 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2005
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This is my first Safari .
Tell me about money . What cash do I need. American or Euro or ? will be in Kenya and Tanzania first two weeks of Dec.
Mittens is offline  
Old Oct 28th, 2005, 07:29 AM
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Both work, best to take small denominations.
I travel with $$'s and have never had a problem.
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Old Oct 28th, 2005, 08:14 AM
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Does this apply to Zambia as well? will I ever need anything other than US dollars?
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Old Oct 28th, 2005, 08:32 AM
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I used dollars in Zambia and no problem. I took a lot of small denominations to make it easier for the staff to divide it up. Figure there are 20 or 30 staff people in addition to the guides and spotters you see. So if you leave $10 per day that is 5o cents per person if there are 20 people at the camp. Some camps, the management divides it up and puts it in their pay, some camps the people divide it among themselves -- every one is different.

Just remember you need new bills if you do dollars.
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Old Oct 28th, 2005, 09:20 AM
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I didn't realize that every person at the camp needed to be tipped. I'm really putting myself out there right now, but here goes....I am paying a 50% single supplement in addition to the camp price. I understand tipping guides and drivers. So tell me - who all should be getting tips, how much, and what is the protocol? Please, I understand that the people work hard for their money and I'm not trying to be cheap! (As if shelling out nearly $9,000 is cheap....) Just looking for some clarity here, amid the confusion. Thansk to the OP for letting me add on to the thread!
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Old Oct 28th, 2005, 09:37 AM
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Wouldn't bother with Euros. To kenya I take Kenyan Shillings. Don't feel you have to tip everyone. Tips spread out among lots of people, or choose someone who your tip could make a difference too. Have a look around you too.... the people doing the gardens or maintainance work will not get the same kind of tips that waiting staff get. Perhaps you could surprise someone?

Again.. tip for good service... or people going out of their way for you. I was chatting to a guy at the Serena Hotel in Mombassa who suggested choosing one person... a $50 tip for that person could send his child to school ... or make a big difference in some other way.

It's up to you.
I feel that tipping shouldn't be "expected". The hotel/tour company should be passing on a decent wage, because they charge decent prices. But I know they dont always. Rant over. Sorry.

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Old Oct 28th, 2005, 11:43 AM
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You can't go wrong with US$, although if you live in the Eurozone you might as well stick with your own currency.

Small denominations are okay for tipping, but useless for exchanging into Kenyan or Tanzanian shillings. For that you need the larger notes, making sure they are recent edition (large head or new multicolored ones), and not too worn.

There are ATMs in the larger Kenyan cities, but not so many in Tanzania. Travelers cheques will be accepted at most hotels and lodges, but you will probably be given shillings in change.
Heimdall is online now  
Old Oct 28th, 2005, 12:27 PM
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Keep in mind that if paying for hotel/lodge/camp incidentals with USD/EUR (or any other foreign currency or foreign denominated traveler's checks), you'll likely get a very poor rate of exchange.

Paying with a credit card will give you a better exchange rate provided they're accepted without surcharge and the charge is put through in local currency. Or just pay in Kenyan/Tanzanian shillings.

I agree you should just bring whatever your home currency is as both are easily convertible.
Patty is offline  
Old Oct 28th, 2005, 02:17 PM
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Good point, Patty, on the USD exchange rate in hotels and lodges, and I prefer to have local currency for those incidentals.

Credit cards are fine if used in well known establishments, but I would be very careful using them elsewhere. Credit card fraud is not unknown in Africa.
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Old Oct 28th, 2005, 02:17 PM
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As I've mentioned previously, in Tanzania all they wanted to see were USD and that is what we used for our guides/driver and camp staff. Besides any left over Tanzanian Shillings can't be reconverted to USD. You tip your guide/driver directly, whereas tips for camp staff, whether 15 or 30 people, go into a tip box that is distributed by camp management. What percentage goes to those people you see - waiters, porters, housekeepers and even chefs - versus gardners, maintenance people, etc. I can't say. But all get their share. If someone, say housekeeping, goes out of their way, you can always add a little something directly to this person.

The above holds true regardless where we've visited... especially, the shared-tips. We've found that at many of the small camps there's a very personal "good-bye" procedure where the entire staff comes out to wish you a pleasant journey. One of these folks is dedicated to accept the camp tip on behalf of the entire group. It's a nice policy and you get to meet everyone and associate faces behind the services provided.

In Kenya, if visiting some sites in NBO and admittance fees haven't been prepaid, they prefer Kenya Shillings. Or for taxi rides - local currency. It's easy enough to get Ksh at the airport ATM or one in Nairobi center. Cash exchange offices also give a good rate or a bank teller. Hotels, not so, but we know that from wherever we travel.

Otherwise, USD are also widely accepted in Kenya and which we used for guide/drivers and camp staff tips. Any leftover Kenya Shillings can also be used for camp staff tip.

When in Southern Africa, we used a combination of USD and Rand in SA; USD in Zim; USD in Botswana.

Some recent posters have indicated that they include the tips on their final credit card bill. Guess that's okay, but I wonder how long it takes to get to the people it's meant for?
Old Oct 28th, 2005, 03:33 PM
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Speaking of credit card fraud, a few days after we returned from Kenya, I noitced a charge of $1800 for a KLM ticket from Nairobi to Mexico City on my Amex statement online. The flight was still a couple of days away so in addition to disputing the charge and getting a credit from Amex, I contacted Travelocity (the ticket was purchased online) so they could set up their own investigation. I was hoping they'd cancel the ticket in time, but the passenger did make it to her destination. So much for my diligence and detective work!

In my case, I do believe that the fraud originated from a well known establishment. However, I don't have definitive proof so I won't name names.

I've also encountered a few instances of credit card fraud in the US, so I think it's just one of those things that can easily happen anywhere.
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Old Oct 28th, 2005, 03:48 PM
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It does depend on the camp you go to but most have a tip box for the whole camp that usually the guides are excluded from. The best rule of thumb I got was to tip 5-10 per person per day to the tip box and a like amount to the guide. I tipped spotters in between as they were only there on night drives.

There are a lot of people you may never see working behind the scenes to make your trip a good one. People who wash your clothes and bring you hot water -- the tip box goes to them. I did find out that in Zambia, the government actually sets guidelines as to how much each person should be paid. I do not know how closely all the camps follow it though. But someone doing your laundry may only be paid a base of $100 a month while the guides are paid 8-10 times that to start.

That said, tipping is NOT obligatory. I am sure I was with some people who tipped a lot better than I did and some who did not tip as well.
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Old Oct 28th, 2005, 08:20 PM
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I see. Well, I am really tired tonight, so perhaps I shouldn't be posting. But a lot of tour operators will say, upon giving you (and justifying) the price, something to the effect of: "Once you get here, everything is paid for. There is simply nothing more you'll need to spend money on." I guess I'm wondering why I'm paying upwards of $500 a night if the staff isn't being properly paid? (Told you...probably not so good to post tonight but what the heck. )
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Old Oct 29th, 2005, 05:05 AM
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cooncat2 -

Some tour operators/outfitters (mostly the high-end providers) do include the tips for all but your guide/driver in their price. Verify with your outfiter if this is the case; all of which should be clearly stated in their documents to you.

If this is the case, then you only need concern yourself with tipping guide/driver/spotter/poler, if deserving. I do wonder though, how much the operator feels is a justified tip or if it is a way of adding a few dollars on to the price.

Tipping is not an obligation, and should be your decision... though you'll find most all (even those not seen) who are of service to you while on safari are deserving.

Check with your operator/outfitter for specifics.
Old Oct 29th, 2005, 01:34 PM
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I believe that at the upmarket camps that you have chosen that the staff does get a portion of the tariff as a bonus. For example, I believe that perhaps 5% of the tariff paid goes into a general account. Then, at the end of each month, the money is equally distributed.

Therefore, if a camp had sold 100 bed nights in that particular month at an average of $250 per bed night (half of the visitors at lodges are likely local Southern Africans paying reduced rates), then there would be $25,000 USD. $25,000 USD multiplied by 5% = $1,250. Now, let's assume there are 25 staff members. At the end of the month each person would get a $50 bonus.

I honestly do not believe that too many lodge owners are making hand over fist, despite the high tariffs. And, at $50 per month bonus, I don't think the staff members are getting rich either, especially in Zambia where the season typically runs from about May - October, leaving many people unemployed for six months out of the year.

Therefore, I would say that generous tipping is well in order for anyone that can afford to do so. If someone is able to afford the luxury lodges that most on this board seem to favor, then I would say that they should also be able to afford to tip generously, although I will make no definition of "generous."
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 01:41 AM
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Regarding USD vs Euro for small denomination tips, the $ does have one advantage - the smallest note in Euros is €5, currently worth about $6. Lesser denominations are issued as coins, which aren't readily exchangeable. So I agree that having some $1 bills for small tips can be useful.

Gross National Income (per capita) is less than $1 per day in both Kenya and Tanzania, so a tip of that amount is meaningful.
Heimdall is online now  
Old Oct 30th, 2005, 07:32 AM
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Good point about the Euro coins. We ran into so many roadside vendors in Kenya asking us if we would exchange their 1 or 2 euro coins into shillings for them.
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