Money in Botswana and Livingstone

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May 12th, 2004, 09:45 AM
  #1
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Money in Botswana and Livingstone

I'm wondering how best to bring money for the Botswana and Livingstone/Victoria Falls part of our trip. Should we plan on bringing enough US$'s in cash ahead of time to tip everyone at the safari camps in Botswana, and to pay for things in Vic Falls? Or will we be able to use US$ traveler's checks when we get there? Will safari lodges in Botswana change travelers checks into dollars? Will a hotel like the Zambezi Sun in Livingstone change travelers checks into dollars?

Thanks for your input.
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May 12th, 2004, 09:58 AM
  #2
SoBeTraveller
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Good questions! I see to recall we tipped in USD, and at one place, cashes US trav checks for local currency. I've also placed tips on credit cards. May I suggest you enquire with your agent and/or lodges.
 
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May 12th, 2004, 10:22 AM
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I agree with SoBeTraveller that you should check with your agent and lodges but just a week ago we were in Kasane, Botswana and they had no problem accepting US currency. We always tipped using US dollars. We intentionally brought over lots of one's but it is not very convenient in your wallet/purse or even your carry-on. Who knows what it looks like to the luggage screeners at the X-rays? In our part of Botswana they were using a standard 4 pula to the dollar although I see much better rates (more pula) listed on the internet posted rates.
Our lodge accepted traveler's checks with no problem but I have heard of others taking big commissions or offering poor rates of exchange.
US cash was fine on the Zim side of the Falls but I don't know what you can expect on the Zam side.
I do know that our hotel in Zim gave us a 15% discount for paying in US cash instead of traveler's checks or credit card.
A lot depends on your comfort level with carrying cash. Usually I am not comfortable at all but because of all the unknowns I found myself bringing more than usual.
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May 12th, 2004, 10:37 AM
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SoBeTraveller
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I think jeorgiagirl has surfaced an issue we're thinking about when we're in Botswana - taking a wad of US cash for tips! That's the way we've done it before - and yes, cash can be a problem, but I think that makes sense. Yes, big commissions and rate reductions for cashing traveller checks. Cash is the way to go, although it does seeem a bit unfamiliar as an approach.
 
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May 12th, 2004, 11:05 AM
  #5
dlm
 
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We brought all US cash for Botswana and Livingstone and were very glad we did. Although I'm sure the Zambezi Sun would cash travelers checks - it's just a hassle in my opinion. There was an ATM machine, as I recall, at the Zambezi Sun, but it sometimes runs out of money. My advice is to just bring the cash.
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May 12th, 2004, 11:36 AM
  #6
SoBeTraveller
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yes, US cash does seem to make the most sense ... despite the usual reasons for not carrying cash.

Doing the calcs for tipping, and the time we'll be on safari, seems like $500 in cash will do it, including a bit extra per day if we need to hand it out.
 
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May 12th, 2004, 12:48 PM
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sandi
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SoBeTraveller-How long will you be on holiday that you need $500 - all for tips?

We brought USD for tips in SA, Zim and Bots, and occasional souvenir purchases (small amounts to individual vendors). In SA, used credit card for restaurants and any major purchases.

Since everything was prepaid we didn't need more than tip money in Botswana - as there is no place to spend any other money. Even our beverages were included. It was the same in Zim, tips in USD and there was the credit card for restaurant meals, other than included breakfast.

Neither Bots or Zim had any problem changing a few USD for local currency, but that was a minimal amount - maybe $10 in each country, most of which went into my scrapbook.

Travelers checks, these days, seem to be more trouble than they're worth as many places worldwide charge to change these. They are good to have should an emergency happen and you need extra funds, otherwise, USD work fine.

But your denominations shouldn't b more than $20s, its easierto tip with small bills, than larger - and they don't take up much room. We did have about $100 is $1s, the balance in $5s $10s & $20s - and at that I don't believe I had more than $250; my partner had even less. And we were pretty liberal with tips.

And still had cash to take a taxi home from the airport.
 
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May 13th, 2004, 06:50 AM
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Thanks for all the useful info - just what we needed to know.
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May 13th, 2004, 10:12 AM
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SoBeTraveller
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Sandi, the $500 is enough to cover 12 full days at several different camps in Botswana. And includes some extra, but not much, for the unexpected.

PP/day, our max per ranger is usually $10, and $5-$7 for paddlers. Staff up to $8. This is for a very good job. I sometimes tip bartenders at camps, and definitely give a small amount each time my clothes are washed.

Once or twice, back room administrative people have done something really nifty for me, and I make sure to give them a small gift upon departing.

People we know in the safari business have given us guidelines, and encouraged us to add more for very good work. So, this is what we do, and one or two have told me that we may overtip, but then they tended to be the ones who complained the most about having to tip. It all works out.
 
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May 13th, 2004, 01:52 PM
  #10
sandi
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SoBeTraveller - For 12 days of camping -then you're doing fine. Please excuse me for being so personal, but in our own experiences, we've maxed out our camping (in SA and/or Botswana) at less days especially in situations where there were both ranger/guides and trackers/paddlers - so naturally our outlay wasn't anywhere as high.

Though for a sole guide/drivers on our Kenya and Tanzania trips, I recall tipping between $150 to $200, depending on length of trip.

And, of course, for camp staff; never had laundry done; and like you tip the bartender separately especially if we spend any amount of time bending our elbows at the bar. So generally, we're in the same ballpark.
 
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May 14th, 2004, 07:24 AM
  #11
SoBeTraveller
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... thanks for your ideas, Sandi - you're one of the folks I read.

Yes, at our lodges, I'm usually at the bar for lunch and dinner, and working too, lol, selecting the wine, although the hous ewine is normally superb. So, I tend to tip!

For washing I leave a small tip each day - I want to be sure the person who takes care of us gets some money - althoughshe or he will share the "box."

We probably do over tip a bit, but then we always get pretty good service, and for that, we are happy to pay.

Now, we are NOT the type who go on game drives with a "must see" list - no Big Five or Bust tees! We take it as it comes. We tip for their getting us back in one piece so we can spend some more time with the barkeep. We do not hold back because the famous painted dogs took a holiday in some neighboring provence. Or that recalcitrant leopard refused to kill anything as we drove by.

I've been known to tip the pilot for hanging up my formal wear.
 
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Jun 2nd, 2005, 10:33 PM
  #12
 
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I have also just been trying to work out how much cash to convert to US$. As it costs $30 visa and $30 exit in Zim, plus $20 to get into the National Park to see the falls and more money again if you want to go into Zambia. Then we need to pay $10 to get into Matetsi game park, and $5 water usage for the prepaid Sunset cruise. And tips at the lodges. All of this is before we have even considered lunches, souvenirs etc. And of course needs to be doubled for 2!
We have been warned not to use credit cards in Zim because of high fees and difficult access. So we even have to bring in the cash/travellers cheques to do our elephant safari/heli flight/jet boat ride!
I just picked up some of our US$, and the man laughed, because there were so many small denominations! Said he had never put together such a stack of money for what is still really a fairly small sum.
Thank goodness accomodation, food etc is paid for or we would need another bag for all the cash! Shows how quickly we have got used to our cashless society!
I still worry that we won't have enough - Hubby thinks I'm mad!
Carol
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