Safari Tipping

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Feb 16th, 2007, 08:14 AM
  #1
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Safari Tipping

My wife and I are leaving for a 16 day Kenya/Tanzania safari on the 26th of February. This is a Brendan tour hosted by Pollmans in Kenya and Ranger in Tanzania.

Needless to say we are extremely excited. The information that we have gotten from the "Foderites" has been invaluable. I do however have a question with regards to tipping.

The following is a statement in the Brendan Handbook for both countries:
"Most hotels, game lodges and tented camps include a service charge in their tariff, as do most restaurants. In such cases, it is not necessary to leave a tip except to reward exceptional service. Otherwise, a 10% tip is customary for hotel and restaurant staff as well as for taxi drivers and porters. For a good performance it is customary to reward safari guides and drivers/game spotters with a gratuity of about US$3 each per tour member per day."

I read of a lot of tipping around US$10 per person per day. Who is right? I don't mean to be a "cheap skate" but are large tips the norm. I don't mind rewarding for excellant service but in a country where the per capita income is less than $400 is'nt US$10 PPPD a little high?

I want to make sure that I take enough cash and would really appreciate some input.
reid9439 is offline  
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Feb 16th, 2007, 08:46 AM
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Personally, I don't look at the per capita income as much as I look at how much I am paying for the lodges.

I mean if I am paying $500 per person per night, I feel I am UNDERtipping if I only give $10 per person per night as a tip.

Then I also take into consideration how many other guests are in the vehicle and then measure up their likely tipping habits...not to start a problem here, but it is generally recognized that Americans are better tippers than Europeans. Also, if I have a vehicle to myself, then I also have my guide's entire attention and will try to tip double the usual amount providing my guide has done a great job (which is, more often than not, the case).

Please keep in mind that one guide may be supporting so many people back in his village and that it is not like a wealthy industrialized country where there are various incomes coming in.

Tipping is and should be discretionary, but I would have a hard time condoning anything less than the minimum suggested amounts (and, again, I always tend to tip much higher).
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Feb 16th, 2007, 08:59 AM
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please also keep in mind that if you go to a tented camp with only 6 or 8 tents, there are only 12 or 16 guests max in the camp per night. Consider a staff of about 15 to 20 people, and you'll understand that $10 per person per night is more likely to be a good tip than the $3 you mention...
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Feb 16th, 2007, 09:07 AM
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One more thought on the issue...although the per capita income may be a certain amount, how many of us here with the ability to travel to Africa could survive on whatever the per capita is for the USA or wherever else it is we live???

We are being attended to by the best & brightest in Africa and, for that, it is my pleasure to be as generous as possible (within reason).
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Feb 16th, 2007, 09:31 AM
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Printed at the bottom of my final itinerary for Roy Safri's:

General tipping guideline: Driver/guide US$100 from the group per day.
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Feb 16th, 2007, 09:38 AM
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We did this trip with Brendan in 2005. We were the only ones 'on tour' in Kenya and gave the guide/driver $10 a day for the two of us. In Tanzania we were 5 people and gave the same amount. You'll have a wonderful time. Enjoy!
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Feb 16th, 2007, 09:44 AM
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Printed at the bottom of my final itinerary for Roy Safri's:

General tipping guideline: Driver/guide US$100 from the group per day.


Dssxxx, I'm sure the guides would absolutely love it if this were true, but you have a typo in the amount ... Roy is probably having a heart attack reading this right now if anyone is monitoring

Bill


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Feb 16th, 2007, 09:57 AM
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Reid, the safari operators usually give you tipping guidelines (as yours did) and if you follow them you'll have no problems. I've seen the suggested daily guide fee run from $10/day/group to $20-30/day/group to $10/person/day.

Keep in mind that many visitors are from cultures that do not usually tip. Once a jeep drove by with about 10 people of the same nationality inside and I joked with our driver "if all those people tipped $10/each/day that driver will be rich" ... my driver replied that the last time he took out a group of that nationality they tipped him $2 US total for five days, which wasn't funny.

At any rate, if you tip the suggested amount you won't be out of line, but if you feel the guide is going beyond the call then by all means tip extra. We always drive our guys hard, leaving the lodges every day at 6 AM instead of 8 like many people, and tip generously, but we feel it has been earned.

We are probably wrong to do this but we also tip the room staff a buck a night (for a good job) and tip the porters a couple of bucks for carrying our bags to the room. As you note the per capita income is under $2 US/day so spreading a few one dollar bills is painless to us but can help the recepients a lot.

Bill
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Feb 16th, 2007, 10:09 AM
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I hate not having an edit feature after you post..........

Yes, you are correct.

It is $10.00 per day from the group.

Thanks.
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Feb 16th, 2007, 10:24 AM
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if you can afford a trip to Africa, a good tip won't set you back much more. $10+ a day per person is a drop in the bucket compared to what you paid to get there. consider whre the money is going to-supporting a family and perhaps a whole village. i even tipped my "bad" guide generously knowing he and his family need it more than I. I tip the housekeepers and guards seperately and leave a tip for the rest of the staff too. it's only money, and not much at that.
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Feb 16th, 2007, 10:30 AM
  #11
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Bill_H

Thanks for the reply and advice. Based on the feedback, I'm thinking about US$100 for the wife and I for each of the 2 legs of our trip along with some personal gifts for the guides and their families.

PS: I've enjoyed your photos. Looks like you are a pro. Would you care to answer a few dumb guestions on photography to help out a dummy?

Reid
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Feb 16th, 2007, 11:46 AM
  #12
sandi
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If you've prepaid your trip, what Brendan wrote about tented camps and lodges is incorrect. Yes, at hotels in Nairobi or JRO, there is often a service charge on the restaurant menu prices, but that's about it. In that case, it is often noted on the menu, so no tip is necessary or as visitors in Europe where service charges are usual, many leave a small additional amount or loose pocket change. Otherwise, consider 10% of the restaurant bill. Porters and housekeepers at city hotels should be tipped pretty much as at home - $1-$2/per bag for porters; $2-$3/night for housekeeper.

Once on safari, and apparently, you're traveling with a group, so in some ways I can understand Brendan noting $3/day person, though that is far from sufficient for what your guide/driver does in a days work. So $7-$10/person is not unusual for your guide. Many, though do tip more and it really shouldn't have anything to do with how much you're paying for your entire itinerary or a particular lodge/camp daily.

You will also find at many lodges/camps in the Guest Information booklet, information re Suggested Tipping. Tour operators do tend to be a bit conservative in the amounts they suggest, but it's only a guideline.

As to lodge/camp staff, it's recomended an amount of about $3-$5/person ($6-$10/couple), placed in a locked "Tip" box found at Reception where it is then distributed to porters, waiters, chefs, housekeepers, etc.

Of course, if anyone goes out of their way, you can tip this person individually. It will be much appreciated. Likewise, you shouldn't feel obligated to "support" a family in Africa, anymore than you would the waiter or waitress at your local diner. Tipping is still discretionary, but a proper guideline is a bit higher than what Brendan has indicated.

For 16/days at $10/day guide = $160/person; at $5/day camp/lodge staff = $$80/person; plus some extra as needed as you will find the people of East Africa always extending themselves to see that you have a pleasant time in their countries. You don't want to be short, when needed. Anything left, you just redeposit in the bank when you return home.

There are many threads on this board about tipping that a search will bring up for you to read.

 
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Feb 16th, 2007, 12:29 PM
  #13
 
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Excellent coverage of the subject, Sandi! Reid9439, once you experience what most of us have on safari, you'll be perfectly willing to tip the amounts Sandi has suggested. The guides are amazing... driving on bad roads, spotting game that you can barely see with binocs, getting the best angles for your photos, sharing their extensive knowledge of wildlife and their culture, etc. etc. The staffs at the lodges and camps work hard to ensure you have a marvelous experience, as well. There are SO MANY people that work behind the scenes; that's why they have the communal tip boxes.
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Feb 16th, 2007, 01:12 PM
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I have a question regarding tipping, if anyone can help. I will be staying in Serena lodges in Amboseli, Samburu and the Mara, a couple of nights in each. Do you tend to tip the guide after each game drive or would it be done at the end of each two-day stay in my case? Do you normally have the same guide while staying at the lodges for a couple of days? Do the guides just share out all the tips at the lodges so you can just tip at the end of your stay or would it be best to tip after each drive/day to the individual guide? Cheers.... $10 for the first answer!!!!
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Feb 16th, 2007, 01:30 PM
  #15
sandi
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safarited -

If you have the same guide/driver your entire safari (drive-only), then you tip at the conclusion of the safari. If flying to Samburu, Amboseli and Mara, using the guides from the individual Serena Lodges, then you tip the guide at the conclusion of your stay at each. Lodge staff is tipped at the conclusion of your stay at each.
 
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Feb 17th, 2007, 01:15 AM
  #16
 
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Thanks for the help sandi... the $10 is on its way or do you accept sterling????
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Feb 17th, 2007, 04:44 AM
  #17
sandi
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Monopoly money only!

Thank you, is more than sufficient.
 
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Feb 17th, 2007, 04:55 AM
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Tipping is always such a sticky thing to talk about, especially for those of us who are in the industry. Tipping is always a personal affair, and travelers should understand how much hard work goes on behind the scenese from our guides, waitstaff, campstaff and other people that make our stay comfortable. My safari groups tend to tip more than most, which makes my return back to Africa more relaxed. Yes, I run photo safaris for a living, but I am also a customer of the safari company that operates my safaris for me. So I tip alongside my own customers, so that everybody that assists me in my business know that I very much appreciate their hard work and dedication to wonderful safaris. One of the last things that I do before leaving home for Africa is I send out emails to all of my safari travelers. These emails reiterate tipping guidelines so that it is all out in the open and easy to understand.
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Feb 17th, 2007, 05:30 AM
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PS: I've enjoyed your photos. Looks like you are a pro.

Thanks, glad you enjoyed them ... we are not pros though.

Would you care to answer a few dumb guestions on photography to help out a dummy?

Sure, no problem ... either send me an email or post the Q ... probably best to post it on the threads I started for the bird and cat pics instead of in this particular thread.

Bill
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