South Africa Safari - Final questions...

May 16th, 2011, 11:20 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 28
South Africa Safari - Final questions...

hi all,

my husband & i are getting ready to leave in 11 days for our belated honeymoon safari! We will be visiting 4 places in South Africa:

Ngala Tented
Garonga
Elephant Plains
Phinda Forest

Had just a few questions left, i think...
ATM - Has anyone used the ATM at OR Tambo Int'l arrivals? Do you know the max amount you can withdraw? This is how i was planning to get ZAR for tips, but not sure if I'll be able to withdraw enough in one time. I am assuming this would be the only place I could get $$, since we'll be on safari for the whole 2 weeks.

Water - we were considering bringing our refillable water bottles. Is this a good idea? I guess accompanying questions would be - do the lodges provide unlimited water for you, and do they generally provide in small bottles or large ones, or just from a big water dispenser?

Tipping - i've seen a few guidlines for tipping, but I was actually curious as to *how* people tip the various folks. For trackers & guides - do you tip after each day? After each drive (2x a day)? or at the end of your stay? And for the lodge staff, do you tip the restaurant staff and porters immediately, after each bag run or meal - or do you wait till the end and put in tip box? Do guides and trackers have tip boxes too?

really would appreciate anyone's input on these things. thank you so much!
aestuo is offline  
May 16th, 2011, 12:44 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
Lucky you, wish I were going safari in 11 days!!! Be sure and tell us about it whien you get back.

I've used OT Tambo ATMs many times, works good, but not sure max amount you can get out. May depend on the bank you are withdrawing from, e.g. BoA has a daily limit of $400.

Water, in general the tap water is SA is safe to drink - unless stated otherwise. But we still try to drink bottled water just to be safe. And you do have some medication just in case, yes? Although I have not been to your specific camps, I would expect those camps to provide bottled water. Maybe as routine, maybe at your request.

Tipping. Tip your guide, tracker and camp staff at the end, when you leave camp. I generally leave the tips on my credit card at the camp office and spelled out in writing who gets how much. And I tell the guide and tracker that I've left something for them at the office. Other safarites much prefer to hand out the tips as cash in envelopes. In the case of bag/luggage handling or other such "errands" I usually tip right then, one-two $.

Don't know how much international traveling you do, so here's a few more "do's". Call your credit card/ATM company and tell them you will be using the card in Africa. Take xerox copies of your passport, air tickets, and any other important docuements. Does you medical insurance cover you out of home (USA?). (I do not get general trip/travel insurance). Will you take malaria medication? That's what pops in mind immediately.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
May 16th, 2011, 09:05 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
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It's extremely IMPERSONAL to leave a tip on a credit card -
HariS is offline  
May 16th, 2011, 09:07 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,286
Get as much cash as you can from ATMs at the airport. Bring USD as most camps accept it. Even tips are ok in USD. I tip everywhere in cash. No guarantee anywhere that the person it's intended for will get it. I bring thank you notes and give tips at the end in person and leave housekeeping with a note before our final game drive.

I don't drink bottled water in general. I request a thermos or carafe of filtered water to be in our room and refill one bottle over and over. We have had some of the best tasting water in southern Africa. Even my husband, who is very "sensitive" has no trouble with the filtered water. Most camps have very elaborate filtration systems. They seem to appreciate the water request - a few camps have set it up like champagne or with ice and lemon. Very nice touch, but not expected.

Have fun! We're leaving a few days behind you. Can't wait!!!!
christabir is offline  
May 17th, 2011, 01:27 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 184
I wouldn't tip in US dollars, the staff will loose out having to convert to rand to spend in the shops! I found there was a transaction limit of Rs 3000 per withdrawal at ATM's although you should be able to do multiple withdrawals if this is not enough.
braaiseason is offline  
May 17th, 2011, 06:51 AM
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I've always tipped in US dollars...
I calculate minimum tip (assuming decent performance) in advance and take sufficient dollars but always take a decent extra so I can increase tip for really good performance.
Trying to exchange into local currency, but not worry about being stuck with too much of it later, would make it harder to have that flexibility to tip extra.
Whereas having leftover dollars is not a big problem as I'd use them on next trip to wherever.
Kavey is offline  
May 17th, 2011, 01:34 PM
  #7  
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Hi all,

Thank you so much for your input and advice - it's all super helpful! We are so excited to be so close to our trip, finally.

I will definitely post about the trip when we get back. And christabir - you have fun too!

aestuo is offline  
May 17th, 2011, 02:35 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2008
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Please consider this ... the loss in commission & variable exchange rate in converting dollars to rands could buy food for the recipients family for a week! There are no banks close to a game park, the cost to get to the nearest one to change a few dollars is lost so the gesture becomes fruitless!
braaiseason is offline  
May 17th, 2011, 02:45 PM
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One would hope (maybe just dreaming) that the camp office would provide exchange for their employees. And exchange at a fair rate. Or, is this like the old mining days when you thanked the boss man for whatever he sold you at twice the price?

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
May 17th, 2011, 02:55 PM
  #10  
 
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I was told most camps exchange employees' money for them, but braaiseason makes an excellent point. You want them to get what is meant for them. At $7/ZAR, 3000ZAR is about $420. Figure out what you might need before you leave. I will tip in ZAR in the future. Thanks.

Thanks aestuo!! Your trip sounds like a good one.
christabir is offline  
May 18th, 2011, 01:13 PM
  #11  
 
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How much do you tip each person per a day?
jeanned is offline  
May 20th, 2011, 06:56 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
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Even if the camps do provide this service for the employees it still has to convert & pass on any fee's incurred to the employee otherwise the camp would lose profit.

Very poor families in SA eat a porridge/gruel called millie (sp?)you by this in bulk for just a few rands.

Yes something like that Tom, can still be found in white South African attitudes but would quickly add it's not common!

Tipping I've no idea what the current rates are, I used to think about the average daily wage & tipped accordingly.
braaiseason is offline  
May 20th, 2011, 11:28 AM
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I've never considered the workers' daily wage, but I consider mine. If I can afford to be there, I can afford to add a 10% (of the daily rate per person, per night) tip for service. It's in my budget. So if the camp is $300 per person per night, $20 for guide, $10 for tracker, $5 for housekeeping - per person per night. Adjust accordingly and for outstanding service or if you have a private vehicle by choice or by chance. Always with a personal thank you note.
christabir is offline  
May 20th, 2011, 07:29 PM
  #14  
 
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Camp rate at $300 per person adds to $35 total per day, or 12%. So a $500 camp, which is more typical (at least for me ) would be $60 per day. Don't think so, I go with $10 per day for the guide, $5 for tracker, and $5 for staff. And a couple $$ every day in the room for my housekeeper. I would up this for a guide who helped me, appreciated what I want to do, with photography. Likewise for the tracker. And all this assuming that I'm in a vehicle that averages four guests (total) (that are also tipping).

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
May 20th, 2011, 08:52 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
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tom - you're really quibbling about 2%?!! There's more wiggle room than that in the daily exchange rates. 4%? Really? I'd imagine if you were paying for your meals, you'd tip more than $20 for those three meals every day.

Like I said, I budget 10%. But I depend on tips to travel. I'm fortunate.
christabir is offline  
May 20th, 2011, 10:45 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
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2%?!! CB how do you figure it is 2%??

I'm using guidlines (I think) I see here all the time. So, you made me go do a search here on the subject. Made me use Fodors spastic search function, thanks a lot - NOT!!!

So, thought I'd search for tipping advice from someone here we all know, love, and respect, and knows everything there is to know about safaris!!! Yes, indeed, we're talking about SANDI!!! From the posting by mkude on Kenya, Tanzania (Aug 9, 2010) -
http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...i-be-doing.cfm
I quote sandi (posting Aug 30) -
"Figure about $20-25/day towards tips (always at your discretion for service provided) - Guide $7-10/person; tracker (if you have) $3-5; lodge/camp staff (porters, housekeeping, waiters,chefs) $5-8; misc. $5 (if someone goes out of their way)."

I salute your generosity CB. I simply wanted to show what I think is "usual and customary". No?

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
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