May 1st, 2004, 08:20 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 8
Hi, just wanted to add a question on tipping that is maybe over-specific, but I'm not at all familiar with this tipping thing....

We are staying two nights at a camp- do we tip after each activity (morning drive, evening drive) or at the end of the day, or at the end of the stay? -Housekeeping I've always tipped at the end of the stay, but you don't bump into housekeeping all the time. Guides and trackers are different- I'd like to make sure we do the "done" thing, and I don't want to annoy or embarass anyone....

off to south africa tomorrow....
safari_newbie is offline  
May 1st, 2004, 09:19 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 596
Most of the safari travelers we met tipped at the end of the stay. Grab an envelope from the room and write the guide/tracker's name on it and hand it to them at the airstrip when you say your goodbyes. The general staff tip goes into a jar on the counter before you leave camp. In a hotel we always tip daily because the room assignments sometimes change. Have a great trip and write up a report when you get back!
Clematis is offline  
May 1st, 2004, 09:54 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553

Usually at a place like South Luangwa or Matetsi (Zimbabwe), my wife will tip the housekeeping staff very generously, and usually will pick one out to be especially generous with her tip. We do try to get rid of the majority of our foreign currency by giving it to the housekeeping staff and then at the airport, whatever little that we have left, we will find someone, whether it is an airline worker, a janitor or someone else to give away the rest of our money. Even if it is only $10 USD worth of money, that is a fortune to these people and they are most grateful.
Roccco is offline  
May 1st, 2004, 01:14 PM
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Kavey - you're so right, people should be able to ask a question and not be called on it.

Trvlingal - as a group of 16 people, unless your guide goes out of his/her way, specifically for you, or is absolutely outstanding for the entire group, $5/day per person is a very nice tip.

You only have to abide with what is comfortable for you, not with what someone else might or might not tip. You were provided a guideline only and personally, I too believe they are a bit high. But using the guideline I noted above, we have been known to give more and sometimes we've given less - again, at our (or your) discretion and depending on the service provided.

Enjoy your holiday and don't forget to post a trip report on your return.
May 1st, 2004, 01:36 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,214
On another note regarding tips for group tours:

If the group consists of friends and/ or family members only this is not applicable but otherwise we always ensure that we tip directly to the guide/ driver ourselves and sometimes in an envelope with a thank you note. We have been pressured before to simply drop our tip into a group collection but having seen how little some people put into that collection prefer to let the guide/ driver know how much we valued and appreciated his/ her assistance and service even if others felt differently.

It's not like we'll ever see them again so it isn't that we're trying to curry favour or seem superior but we do think that tips are a very personal thing and dislike the group collection method.
Kavey is offline  
May 4th, 2004, 11:24 AM
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On our most recent trip I tried something different. I took gifts to the female member of the managers. I had looked them all up on the internet before we left and I took eye shadow, nail polish, lipstick, blush, etc in a little gift packets for the ladies for when they needed something to pick them up. They were all so nice and surprised by it. I would definately do it again. It started us out on the right foot. I figure those things are hard to find in the bush and everyone needs to feel "frilly" once in a while.

We tipped our old method of tip the guide after each game drive. We mostly double tipped because the guides caught on quickly that the more they did for us, the more they got. If was worth the extra money to us. We even tipped the guide we had when I fell. He got the minimum tip, because he did nothing to prevent my fall. We also left room tips for the cleaning ladies and we gave good camp tips too. This was a cheap trip for us, in some ways, and so we had decided to tip better for good service. Its customary at resaurants to tip after one's meal, but I feel the guides need to know how you are basing your tips too. Liz
May 4th, 2004, 11:48 AM
Posts: n/a
Lis - how thoughtful to bring beauty kits for the women. Which reminds me of an experience on trip returning from Tanzania at Namanga. After clearing immigration, one of the Masai women attached herself to me attempting to sell me a bracelet. At this point I wasn't interested in any more souvenirs, however, all of a sudden she grabbed my hand and kept pointing at my painted fingernails.

Yes, they are manicured and survived almost two weeks in Africa, but what she was interested in was the nail color.

Drat! If I had known, I would have kept the little bottle in my backpack and gladly given it to here.

So nowadays, I suggest visitors hit the 99-cent store and buy as many bottles of nail color (be sure they are screwed tightly, pack in double-plastic bags in your carryon) - they are great giveaways and the women love them.
May 4th, 2004, 04:39 PM
Posts: n/a
Kavey- Hadn't read your post thoroughly and I have to agree with you 100%. It's been so long since I went on a group tour, but tipping the guide that stays with you the whole time is done at the end and I agree that you should do it individually in an envelope with a note of appreciation. One time in Tanzania, a few people in the group wanted to do a joint tip and a Dr. volunteered to handle it. I tipped the recommended amount but we didn't know what the others did. His daughter lost the envelope containing the tip that night and he told us he made it up, but you never know and I always wondered how it came out. Better to be safe than sorry.
May 5th, 2004, 09:56 AM
Posts: n/a
Kavey's an "old" pro at this, so I'd go with her. Juts as context, Mombo's prices per person are listed at over $1000 a day. Now, for the ranger: for four days, tips to our ranger would be $64, much less than what we paid on several trips before. My advice ... drop the subject and pay up ... and if the ranger is terrific, add 50%.
May 5th, 2004, 11:53 AM
Posts: n/a
Oops, didn't realize the question related to just Mombo. Sorry for adding my $.02
May 5th, 2004, 02:39 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 42
Tipping didn't have to do with Mombo at all. In fact we aren't staying at the expensive places most of you are listing. But I do appreciate the guidelines and suggestions that all of you are giving. This is NOT a cheap trip for us even though we aren't at the BEST camps. We are splurging to go period, but do want to tip the correct amount to show our appreciation.
Trvlingal is offline  
May 6th, 2004, 06:32 AM
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At times, I've seen one set of tipping guidelines from the travel agency in Africa ... and a lower guideline at the actual camp or lodge. So, suggest you go prepared, but wait until the very end of each lodge or camp to decide the amounts. It will be psychologically easier then, as well.
May 6th, 2004, 11:19 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 56
Wow. Interesting topic here. I wish it was available before we had left for Botswana a week ago but we were pretty much on target with what we are seeing posted here. It is true that there probably is some difference whether you are in Botswana or Zimbabwe (as was the case for us.)
After some rather candid discussions with some of the drivers and guides it became pretty apparent that some foreigners tip more than others and some not at all. And while I do not feel that they expect a tip, there is no question that the tips they receive make a difference to them.
Keeping all of that in mind, like Roccco, I am sure we might have been OVER tipping. While I don't fault those who do not tip because it is not their custom I definitely feel no guilt in rewarding good service. Especially when I compare our standard of living to theirs.
jeorgiagirl is offline  
May 6th, 2004, 11:29 AM
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Anohter wrinkle is lodges or camps where you have the services of both a guide and a tracker, is the issue of giving all the money to the guide, and he pays the tracker, or to offer separate (but unequal tips to each). Different policies at different places, and with different guides.
May 6th, 2004, 01:16 PM
Posts: n/a
Blacktie - since tipping is at your discretion depending on service provided, one should tip whomever provided the service directly. To me it has nothing to do with the "policy" of a particular camp.

If we have a Ranger and Tracker, each gets their tip handed to them directly. As to Camp Staff, unless someone has specifically gone out of their way to be of help or assistance, that tip goes into the joint tip box; but not unlike others, often someone from housekeeping is especially attentive, and here this person also gets their tip directly.

We[ve found that it's in South Africa where we've had both a Ranger and Tracker, whereas, the other countries only have a one person (called a guide or ranger).
May 6th, 2004, 01:49 PM
Posts: n/a
I quite agree, Sandi, we've had the same experience as you. BUT, sometimes the tracker actually works for the ranger, as an employee, and it's important to determine that before tipping. In those instances, the total is provided to the ranger/guide, who then is supposed to pay the tracker.

The tip box handles all others .... except for one or two in the back office who may do something very special for you ... and then they received a separate tip ... if you wish. I've done that on two occasions, when they handled a major problem expertly, and allowed me to focus on the animals.
Jul 8th, 2004, 09:27 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 314
Not to stir the pot, but Kavey, with all due respect, are you referring to King as an internet stranger? I'm afraid you might have misread his message.

Just a friendly suggestion, please read it again, considering the parentheses. I think the only reason he mentioned you was to put the figure in pounds.
mariacallas is offline  
Jul 9th, 2004, 12:35 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,214
No MariaCallas, I am referring to Rocco's post where he tells the original poster she is OUT OF LINE.

I think thats rude and unneccessary when she's simply asking for opinions and trying to learn about best practice. Read it and you'll see that his post also shows an assumption that he's getting everything right and if she doesn't agree she's obviously got a closed heart.

As I said above, I think posters should be able to ask for advice without getting insulted by other posters.

Regarding tipping we stuck to normal procedure on this tip - that is we tipped at the end of each stay. I liked to write a message of thanks along with our tip so even communal tips were put into an envelope with warm thanks and that was put inside the communal tip box. For some guides we stuck to the $5 per day from each of us, for some we upped it and for two guides we doubled it as we thought they were superb and really went above and beyond what we had expected. There were no guides that we felt were substandard in any of the private camps.

We did have one guide for a night drive in Kruger who was truly awful. He actually behaved as though his sole job was to be the driver, gave the guests the spotlights, didn't make any pretence of looking for animals and when we did see something we had to shout at him to even stop and let us look. Needless to say he received zero tip.
Kavey is offline  
Jul 13th, 2004, 05:54 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 120
I have yet to go on a safari, but I'm not going to let THAT stop from putting my $.02 in!

When we've been on a cruise we know we're always going to be taken care of like, "we're at grandma's, it's our birthday, and all everyone wants is that we have a wonderful day."
Sooo, we always tip on the first or second day. Now they know we have confidence in them and they don't have to wonder about being stiffed. We can all relax.
I AM greatful for being taken care of, I'm not a church-goer, but I believe most caretakers are doing sacred work....Sisters and Brothers say, "Amen!"

Life isn't fair. And let's be honest, we fodorites, one and all, are riding the crest of the wave.
mzcuriouz is offline  
Jul 13th, 2004, 06:47 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
As long as it this thread is still alive, I will contribute more about tipping.

On this last trip, std and I tipped as much as we possibly could. While our tips still (far?) surpassed the recommended tips, had we been able, we would have still tipped double or triple. Unfortunately, by the end of a 25 day trip, we just didn't have much cash left.

To me, a guide that is devoting his life to the bush is so much more deserving than a struggling actor/waiter working at a trendy restaurant. Does a waiter that serves up a $100 meal really deserve the same amount to a guide that spends at least six hours out of the day with you, protects your life and tries his best to produce game spottings?

Also, I know that in a country like Zambia, the staff does not earn more than about $1.50 per day. Is it really going to kill me to tip the housekeeping staff and every single member of camp that I can afford to tip?

Had I been able, I would have tipped $100 per day, and I still would have felt unsatisfied. As it was I probably tipped, combined, about $50 per day, per camp, along with giving away about the equivalent of $100 USD to about five local women on the way to the airport. Never did they ask for the money, and I do hope that this was enough to help them out in some way that otherwise would have been a great struggle.

Roccco is offline  

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