Suggestion for African travelers

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Oct 28th, 2003, 04:12 PM
  #1
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Suggestion for African travelers

Hope I don't start World War III here, but I feel strongly that the people who serve us well on safari should be well treated (tipped) by us.

I have seen many people question what tipping protocols should be followed while on safari.
The one thing I have found most helpful in deciding the correct amount I want to tip is taking a cheat sheet with me. www.oanda.com has a travelers cheat sheet that you can print before you go to almost any country and slip in your wallet. If I want to tip a hotel maid the equivalent of $5.00 in American dollars then I leave extra because I know that when she converts the American dollar to Kenya shillings she will end up with only 380.25. Am I wrong in this assumption?

I think safari companies sometimes underestimate the "suggested tips" because they are trying to account for us "foreigners" and also the native population who visit the camps/lodges who could perhaps not afford to tip the same amount. I have seen a suggested tip of $1.00 per person (NOT PER DAY!!). My feeling is, that if we can afford to spend money on a trip such as this, we should tip the people who take care of us as well as we would for people at home.

Anyone have any strong feelings about this one way or another?

Jan
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Oct 28th, 2003, 06:17 PM
  #2
sandi
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No question that we should tip. And yes I use a cheat-sheet for wherever I travel and even separate out my tips beforehand so I don't spend it by mistake. My friends get such laughs from me, but I don't have to, at the last minute, go looking for tip money.

We found it interesting to learn (when in Botswana) that most of the staff do not get paid "big" salaries, rather something like $50/mo (maybe) including room and meals - work for at least 3-mo before getting time off and then only a few days (not even a full week) to return to where their families live. Some companies (in Kenya and Tanzania) provide transportation for their help back to where their families are. Some are fortunate enough to have both husband and wife work at a camp/lodge, etc. and if lucky their children can go to school nearby.

So whatever we tip is greatly appreciated and I base my tips on a combination of what is recommended and service rendered - often giving more. Mostly I tip in USD direct to driver/guide or ranger and tracker (who manage to be able to get their USD converted) - while for camp staff (waiters, bellpeople, housekeeping) tip in local currency.
 
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Oct 29th, 2003, 12:44 AM
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Jan
On our trip in 2001 we used the Wilderness Safaris guidelines on tipping as our starting point/ minimum tip, particularly when leaving tips for the general camp staff most of whom we didn't meet. But we often gave more than recommended to those members of staff we dealt with more often - such as guides - and those who rendered extra service - such as the cooking assistant who made me "jungle juice" (a mixed fruit smoothie) for dinner every night because she'd noted how much I enjoyed it at brunch and also noticed that I didn't drink wine or beer. I also took a LOT of envelopes and small dollar bills so that I could give tips to individuals as well as put something into the general box. The way I looked at it was partly a case of thinking how much I was paying for the experience compared with how much the staff actually got of that price and how much the staff were the people who made the experience so special. Mostly this meant tipping more than the recommended.
It's a very personal decision however, and, although it didn't happen on our Africa trip, my general principle is the same: I will tip well for good service but if I receive appalling service I certainly won't feel obliged to tip at all.
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Oct 29th, 2003, 01:19 PM
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Sandi and Kavey:

I think we are all on the same wave length.

But my God Sandi, are you organized or what?!! I wish I could pre-plan as well as you do. I'm always running into something unexpected (like the green mamba on my veranda). Needless to say, I left the two men who probably saved my life a very generous tip as well as a watch for each one.

I was amazed though on this trip by employees telling me of a number of people who do not tip at all. This is really sad.

Thanks so much for your input.

Jan
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Oct 29th, 2003, 01:28 PM
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Really? People leave nothing often? I can understand if the experience hasn't been good but otherwise? I bet these same people drop 15-20% to their restaurant waiters on city breaks or back home without a thought and yet the staff in many of these camps often do so much more for their guests and can benefit so much more from the tips.

Sigh.
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Oct 29th, 2003, 09:16 PM
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I'm always a little surprised when I hear about people not tipping at the camps because if they read the guidelines from the travel companies or any guide book, they'd know ahead of time. And I think inside of every camp book in the room were tipping guidelines (which were quite modest). We tipped both the general fund and also the guides and trackers, (even in the rare case when they weren't exceptional) because we figured they depended on their tips. We also brought gifts for something extra but it took up valuable space in our bags. I have not heard of anyone tipping a manager though - it was never on any of our lists - did anyone here do that? We had some exceptional service from managers and I wrote feedback about to the main company, etc. Has anyone had luck sending something directly to a camp after they've returned home?
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Oct 30th, 2003, 01:54 AM
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I did send some gifts to a specific individual we clicked with in Wolwedans, just small stuff relating to a conversation we'd had, and she received it and wrote back.
I didn't try to send anything to any WS camps in Bots.
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Nov 4th, 2003, 06:18 PM
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OK Jan - call me anal - actually rarely, but within my own comfort zone (at home and surrounds) you know where to go to get something done, bought, fixed, etc. In a foreign country you don't always have that liberty even if it's London or Paris. So I just prepare.

I'd hate to have lots of $20s when I only need $1s or $5s - so where to find someone (bank,hotel) to break a big bill.

With the exception of a trip to Jordan where our hotel cash desk was more than accommodating in giving me USD (the guys were a hoot to deal with and just so nice) most places worldwide will only exchange in local currency.

On our first trip to Kenya, when it came time to tipping our driver/guide we wound up giving him a combination of USD, Shillings and even a travelers check (which we helped him exchange) - so never again.

But my biggest trauma is making a local phone call in foreign countries - that one sets me back to the stone age. It's different everywhere even in countries with great telcom systems. So if I go crazy with my tip money which is planned the same way the rest of the trip is (and which is just as important for service rendered) - well, at least I get people to laugh! Can't be all bad to bring a smile to a few faces.
 
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Nov 11th, 2003, 12:44 PM
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When we went on our package to Kenya/Tanz. last year. We ended up with one drink waiter for each lodge who waited on our party for all meals(lunch dinner and bfest were buffet serve yourself style) we always tallied up at the end and left about 25/30 % in USD for the drink totals for our party. As my husband drank a lot of beer that ended up being decent. Then we left about $5.00 USD per day to the cleaning staff at the end of our stay.. and then we gave a tip to our Guide, Peter, without whom the trip would have not been nearly as wonderful. Each party tipped him as individuals, but I recall husband and I ended up tipping him $20 USD per Day in one lump sum at the end.. if we'd had the extra we would have tipped him more!
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Nov 11th, 2003, 05:20 PM
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I think we all think pretty much alike. I am embarrassed to think though that some people never tip in appreciation.

Clematis, I must admit I have tipped a lodge manager - one that has gone above and beyond what one would expect - to the point he even came with the hostess and driver to meet me at the air strip. Then followed up with a warm letter of welcome in my room, a gorgeous bouquet of flowers and a huge bowl of fruit and in addition made it a point to connect with me each day to see how things were going. I was most impressed and grateful. You don't see that very often.

Jan
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Nov 11th, 2003, 07:26 PM
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Jan, you sure he wasn't in love with you? <just kidding>. That was definitely above and beyond - very nice!

Clematis
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Nov 12th, 2003, 04:47 AM
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Sounds like love to me also. How nice.

But, you often find the camp managers and entire staff are just so warm and welcoming and go the extra mile to make their visitors welcome.
 
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Nov 13th, 2003, 08:44 PM
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I, for one, prefer to tip heavily at game lodges. I mean here I am at a game lodge that I can afford to spend anywhere from $500 USD - $1,500 USD per night but I cannot afford to tip a ranger, tracker or housekeeper generously?

Even the rangers, whether white South African w/ college degree, or black Southern African with a lifetime of experience, earn VERY modest salaries and rely upon the genorosity of the guests.

I will not tip the manager or owner/operator of a lodge, but nearly everybody else, IMO, is deserving of a tip, so long as the service is good. I have yet to stay at a game lodge where very nice tips were not in order. Personally, for a couple staying at a lodge, I think a tip of $15 per day for the ranger, $10 per day for the tracker, and $5 per day for others is not out of line.
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