Payment for Safari

Jul 8th, 2005, 05:58 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 15
Payment for Safari

I just booked my first safari trip. The local operator wanted a 15% deposit wired to them. I went to the bank to arrange it and it cost me $42 to send the wire transfer!

For the balance, the tour operator wants cash on arrival, and there is a 2% surcharge if we want to use travellers checks. Is this normal? Will most banks charge 2% to cash travellers checks? Is there a better way to arrange payment? I'm not comfortable carrying that much cash with me, but 2% surcharge will be about $100.
Girlstar is offline  
Jul 9th, 2005, 04:05 AM
Posts: n/a
Girlstar -

It is very common for an in-country tour outfitter in Tanzania or Kenya to work on a cash-only basis. Working with in-country outfitters also affords you lower prices then if working with a tour operator in your home country... the benefit is on your side. When using a home-based tour operator they include the charges for using, say credit cards, in the total cost of your itinerary; this can be in the range of 10-20%.

Likewise, many in-country outfitters will accept cash or Travelers Checks as final payment on arrival, so 2% conversion fee for the latter is not unusual. If you traveled with your own TCs for expenses it would cost you a fee to convert these for local currency... same for the outfitter. The reason we suggest you use ATMs for local currency once in-country or bring USD for this purpose - tips, souvenirs, etc..

The cost of wire transfers can range from $15-$50, depending on your bank.

As to TCs for final payment, remember you might have to pay 1.5% to purchase these unless your financial institution provides them for free - so you'd have a fee buying/ and 2% in converting.

Since it only cost $42 to wire the deposit, I'd suggest you wire the final payment about 10-days/2-weeks prior your trip for another $42 (versus the $100 you mention). This way you have no fee to buy or sell TCs. But do advise your outfitter that this is what you plan to do, so they'll expect your payment at their bank.

This is a very usual way of doing business with a majority of in-country outfitters.
Jul 9th, 2005, 06:32 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 62

I made the same money transfer as you to
the same tour operator. 15% for the first payment. The bank charge was around $50.
Just made final payment with a bank transfer. $65 charge for over $5,000. sent. I certainly did not want to carry well over $5,000 in cash on the planes to Nairobi and shuttle to Arusha. The comfort factor would be more than I would want to endure.


j747 is offline  
Jul 9th, 2005, 08:02 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,843
My tour operator accepted TC's with no surcharge, so that's how we paid our balance last time. In your case though, since there's a surcharge for TC, you may want to ask them about wiring the balance. I wouldn't want to carry $5000 in cash.

If you decide to go the TC route, check with Amex if you're a cardholder. I ordered them by phone fee free (I don't know if you have to be a certain level cardholder so check with them on that). I think AAA may offer fee free TC's to members too. I also could've ordered them from my bank without fees.
Patty is offline  
Jul 9th, 2005, 04:00 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 148
If you have a brokerage account, you might check into doing a wire transfer from that account instead of using a bank. When I checked, my brokerage firm was much cheaper. (More like $15-$20 instead of the $40 and up the bank charged.)
ddgattina is offline  
Jul 11th, 2005, 07:55 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 328

I used Sun Trek Safaris out of Nairobi but thay had a New York based bank account. So from my bank in Canada I did a US Funds bank draft and had it deposited into their NY account.

That cost $27.50cnd, which was much cheaper than the 5% surcharge that using a credit card would have cost & much safer than carrying a 'big wad of cash'.

I e-mailed Sun Trek all of the bank draft transit information & they responded in 2 or 3 days that the $$ were received.

TravelMaster is offline  
Jul 11th, 2005, 10:56 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 15
Thanks for all the information and suggestions. This is very helpful. I know AAA provides travellers checks to members free of charge, but I always prefer ATMS to travellers checks. (I think other posts have said there is an ATM at the Kilimanjaro Airport). With the balance of the safari cost, you're right. It will be much easier to wire the money than to purchase the travellers checks and then worry about getting them cashed. It will be $42 well spent. I will also look into the brokerage accounts. That's a great idea!

Thank you!!!
Girlstar is offline  
Jul 11th, 2005, 11:15 AM
Posts: n/a
If you're visiting Tanzania only, it isn't even necessary to change but very little USD to Tanzania Shillings. USD are widely accepted and actually preferred as tips and for souvenirs. Besides, if you have any TSh remaining you won't be able to convert these back to USD. Besides, there aren't many ATMs in Tanzania (JRO)... and I don't even recall one at the JRO airport (someone else may have found one here... not us), though we had no intention of changing USD to TSh.

In Kenya, it's another story. There are ATMs and an exchange booth at NBO/JKIA airport. Here they prefer KSh for admittance fees; otherwise USD are also widely accepted as tips for guide/drivers/camp staff and souvenir purchases. In fact, most all souvenirs were priced in USD and actually billed to the credit card in USD.

If you bring USD for tips/camp bill/souvenirs - bring in small denominations - $1s, $5s, $10s, $20s - they should be relatively new (though don't have to be freshing printed) with the new faces on those bills that have them, even the tri-colored $20s.
Jul 11th, 2005, 05:32 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 15
Thanks, Sandi. We will do as you suggested.
Girlstar is offline  

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