Question OAT Tipping Guidelines

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Jun 29th, 2013, 10:02 AM
  #1
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Question OAT Tipping Guidelines

So, as many of you know we leave on our OAT Safari Serengeti:Tanzania Lodge and Tented Safari on July 11. Anticipation and excitement are at the top of our thoughts now.

We do, however, question OATS tipping guidelines which seem to be tending toward the HIGH side. We would appreciate your thoughts on the matter and , if you can recall, how you handled it on your trips to Africa.

Their suggestions are as follows:

OAT Trip Leader: $7-10 dollars per day per person............I'm thinking $5-6 per day pp

Driver Guides: $5-7 per day per person...............................I'm thinking $5 pp per day

Local Guides: $2-5 dollars per day pp

OAT Serengeti Camp Staff: $10 per day per person................I'm thinking $5 pp per day

Lodge staff: $3-5 dollars per day pp.....................................I'm thinking $3 pp per day

Am I being a cheapskate in what I am thinking regarding tipping....Using my guidelines we are talking about $450 in tips alone......you can't dispute that this is a bunch of dough, can you?? This is, after all, one of the pricier trips and is running in excess of $12K for both us.

Thoughts/opinions appreciated.
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Jun 29th, 2013, 10:18 AM
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Tipping is always at the discretion of the person tipping. OAT is offering 'suggestions' only, not 'you must leave these amounts.' So if you feel for the 2/pax traveling you wish to leave less... it's your decision.

Know though that many often tip as shown or more as service, with very few exceptions, is outstanding.
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Jun 29th, 2013, 11:37 PM
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We didn't go with OAT, but we were in awe of the service provided everywhere and gladly gave more (in some cases much more) than the suggested amount.
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Jun 29th, 2013, 11:53 PM
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In my opinion, the cost of the trip is irrelevant to your tipping.

While I am not used to tipping at home, it seems to be the norm on these types of trips and I don't begrudge a few dollars extra per day, when most of these staff go out of their way to be so helpful. It would be great if they got good wages so a tip was for extraordinary service but that does not seem to be the case.

It does add to the trip, but I have long taken that into account!

Kind regards

Kaye
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Jun 30th, 2013, 07:07 AM
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kp
 
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I have traveled with OAT several times. Tipping guidelines are just that--guidelines. Most of the trips the guide has gone above and beyond what was expected. For example, when in India the group told the guide we'd love to see an Indian wedding/reception. As we were going from one city to another the guide saw a wedding reception, had the driver stop, and made arrangements for us to join the wedding reception.
There has only been 1 trip that the guide provided good service but nothing special. She left us with the impression that she was just doing the job for a paycheck. Her tip was significantly less than the guidelines.
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Jul 1st, 2013, 04:42 AM
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FYI on camp staff, that amount is split between the number of men working at the camp. In our case, it was 6-8 people depending on which camp we stayed at. These are the guys preparing three (quite fabulous) meals a day (in a makeshift kitchen with a small gas stove and no electricity), delivering your hot water for your bucket shower on demand, walking you to from your tent in the dark (keeping you safe with spears or bow and arrows) and patroling the camp all night long. Not to mention they mix a mean drink and play a spirited game of Uno!

Our guide was guide/driver from arrival to departure and was like a brother to us by the third day. He went out of his way to make sure we saw everything we wanted, bought what we wanted, ate what we wanted and stayed safe and healthy.

I found that these guys went above and beyond in every instance to make sure this was indeed a trip of a lifetime and I found in a few instances we tipped beyond what was recommended to recognize that. Not that everyone has to do the same, but I think you'll be amazed at how well you're taken care of.
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Jul 1st, 2013, 06:23 AM
  #7
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Woa, what you are all saying is an "eye-opener". It almost brings a tear to my eye to read how strangers can be so caring and watchful of you and I'm not being facetious. Thanks so much for chiming in.

Jay H.
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Jul 1st, 2013, 07:33 AM
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I don't kid myself, I am sure the service is such that when people like me come home and say what I just wrote, people who haven't been on safari or are on the fence about going will realize it's not "roughing it" like you would think when I say "I stayed in tents in the bush for ten days". They have a vested interest in guests being well tended to, well fed and happy: happy travelers are both repeat guests and their best referrals to potential clients. But I also believe that the people picked to work at the camps we stayed at and for our tour provider were also genuinely nice people who were proud to give us such a good experience.
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Jul 2nd, 2013, 11:04 AM
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I've been on lots of safaris, including OAT in Tanzania. As other posters have noted, you'll be amazed at the quality of the guiding and the assistance you'll get from camp staff personnel. You will not carry your bag once you arrive in country! Don't skimp on the tips because that's most of these people's pay. OAT trips usually include three vehicles, each with a driver/guide. One is designated the leader. I would tip each guide at least $10 pppd. For the lead, I'd go with more, at least $12 pppd. You can tip them at the end of the trip, using larger bills. You won't be with each guide every day, but will rotate among the vehicles. So, you'll end up tipping each one for about a third of the trip. If the safari is 12 days long, you'll tip each one for 4 days.

For the camps and lodges, tip at least $5 pppd. For the mobile camp, $10 pppd is fair, because there is a lot more work spread among a lot fewer people. There is a communal tip box in which you place your tips at the end of your stay. The local guides may be someone that they use for the non-safari activities.

You can use US dollars everywhere in Tanzania. Make sure that your cash is in newer bills ("big head" style dated 2006 or later) with no marks or tears. I wouldn't use $100 bills, as they are often counterfeited and banks are reluctant to take them. The banks also won't take marked or torn bills, so the locals know not to accept them. I calculate how much cash I'm taking and in what denominations. Then, I call my bank and tell them my requirements. They have the cash ready when I arrive, but I look at each bill to ensure that they are okay to use.
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Jul 2nd, 2013, 01:17 PM
  #10
 
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While I've always used USD when in Tanzania, the comment re the USD$100 notes are actually more acceptable than if in Kenya. In Tanzania if you choose to change USD into TSH, the exchange rates is actually better for USD$100 and $50 notes.

But as I've never used USD$100 notes for guide tips once out on safari, this might be different. To be safe, but for my Tanzania Visa, the highest note is only the USD$50.

In Kenya on the otherhand, forget using USD$100 notes as here they do think these are counterfeit (the most counterfeited note in the world) and even local banks won't accept.
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Jul 3rd, 2013, 04:47 AM
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I agree about using $50 notes for the visa. At JRO, I saw some folks having problems using a $100 bill (same in Kenya). To be on the safe side for the guides' tips, I'd stick with the lower denomination bills... $50, $20, etc. I can't think of any place a traveler would need Tanzanian shillings on an OAT trip. As you've probably experienced, Sandi, some places there don't want them; they prefer dollars. Even in the Maasai village visits, they will take dollars. What they will request, though, is to exchange a wad of $1 bills for higher denominations at the end of the visit due to the better exchange rate that Sandi mentions.
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Jul 3rd, 2013, 07:59 AM
  #12
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OK ShaTay, I hear you and completely GET IT. ......and besides, what the heck is another hundred or two hundred dollars in the scheme of things? Will not make a whit of difference. So, it's off to the bank today to get more cash for tips.

Oh, by the way Shatay and Sandi and others, in regard to the malaria pill regima......we got the generic , by the way, with the same exact formulation as Malaron. They say start to take pills 2 days before trip, every day during trip and for 7 days after returning from trip.

My question for you is did you all take the pill and follow the prescribed regima or NOT? Any reactions one way or another? Better with breakfast or on an empty stomach before?

As always , thanks so much for all of your inputs and opinions. This has got to be the best travel web site ever.

Just 8 days and counting now. Ingrid went to Dollar Tree yesterday to get the "medicine chest" of suggested pills and ointments we will be taking along. Our thought now is to take an empty day backpack and place it at bottom of our gym bag type carry-on bag. The day pack to be used on a daily basis when we are out and about on our twice daily photo safari treks.

THOUGHTS/COMMENTS ALWAYS APPRECIATED.

Jay and Ingrid H.
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Jul 3rd, 2013, 09:20 AM
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The protocol for Malarone (generic or the original) is as you indicate.

When to take - well the package insert advised to take with dairy, which is often found at breakfast - milk, yougurt, cheese. This is when I take mine. And never on an empty stomach... never any issues.

That's not to say that some don't take with dinner, feeling that if some tummy upset or whatever... they'll sleep thru it. But those who do could just as easily 'toss their cookies' during sleep and that's just not a pretty picture.

And there have been some reports of visitors who had issues with this or Lariam and for some reason had to stop taking altogether.

Suggest - don't think of the worst which is rare and go with the morning protocol, which you can keep up once you return home.
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Jul 3rd, 2013, 09:30 AM
  #14
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GOTCHA sANDI, that's is my thinking a, as well.
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Jul 3rd, 2013, 10:41 AM
  #15
 
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Sandy has it all right. Just another side I tend to take it at night because I am more likely to eat a decent amount of food then. I tend to be a bit scetchy eating my breakfast when I am travelling like that & sometimes we have not eaten until lunch becuase we got so caught up with a good animal sighting. Never had any problems.
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Jul 3rd, 2013, 01:55 PM
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Agree with jules39 - Take at night right after dinner, fullest stomach of the day. This is what our travel doctor advised. Our family of four has taken Malarone (both brand and generic) w/dinner on longish trips with zero problems...and I don't eat dairy products. Anecdotally, the reports of stomach upsets from friends were people who took it with breakfast and probably didn't eat enough.
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Jul 3rd, 2013, 03:35 PM
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hmmmm! OK Thanks for that thought. will discuss with Ingrid and make a decision. What you both say makes sense , as well.
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Jul 4th, 2013, 09:49 AM
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I always take my malaria meds with dinner. My sister had a bad reaction to Malarone (yet none with Larium on an earlier trip.) After several days, she began to have constant nausea and some dizziness. She wasn't the only one in our group to have that reaction; another woman did, as well. It's not common, but it can happen. The doctor in Zanzibar took her off of it. She just covered up and used insect repellent for the rest of the trip. Even after coming home, she had problems as the drug worked its way out of her liver over the next several months. Just a "heads up"...
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Jul 4th, 2013, 12:30 PM
  #19
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Ok, thanks Shay Tay.
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