Tipping at private game reserves


May 30th, 2012, 12:58 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,285
Carry the cash with you on game drives in your day pack (you will need one for the layers of clothes you will add/remove). Those camps likely have in room safes, too. You can usually use the ATM at the airport with your card and your spouse's card and/or exchange USD. I have tipped in USD, but I'm not sure I'll do that again in S Africa. Cash is best - no one but you and the "tippee" get involved.

In the big picture, considering the overall cost, $1000 isn't a lot. Less than one night. We travel to much less expensive camps, so it's a much higher percentage that we budget for when planning. If you and your kids receive outstanding service, I'd give more.
christabir is offline  
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May 30th, 2012, 01:27 PM
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The figures quoted are in line with what i usually pay (except for the room maid figures which appear high) . Whilst it is a relative small percentage of the overall bill, there is one negative impact, The mainly US based generosity often results in local residents (and sometimes UK and other European country residents) begin treated as second class citizens. I have a "Kenyan English" friend who is treated poorly when he visits lodges with his Kenyan wife.
philw is offline  
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May 30th, 2012, 06:26 PM
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CB - when you tip cash, how do give it around to "all staff"?? ("all staff" being the camp support staff you don't have contact with).

regards - tom
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Jun 1st, 2012, 05:08 AM
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Hi everyone,
Not at all like you Tom to argue just for the sake of it!

But in my limited experience - for the best part, the majority of rangers I have had have been white and while I don't think they earn great wages, I would be pretty sure they earn better wages than most of the other staff at the upper end lodges. Having seen, on more occasions than I would like to think about, the total disrespect and rudeness shown to general camp staff by guests, I like to give staff that I recognise and see daily a more generous tip. All kitchen staff, the guys at the boom gates and the room cleaning people are the ones I have chosen for that added tip. Do they do twice the job/responsibility of rangers, obviously not - do I hope that they know that not all guests see them as being part of the furniture and virtually ignored unless they wish to demand something, I really hope so!

Certainly some rangers are with guests far more than at some lodges and that is taken into consideration as well!

Where possible, I would give cash as the recipient gets the tip there and then and the amount that you wish them to have. For general staff, obviously you have no choice but to leave one amount, all camps I have been to have a box in reception, so leave the cash in that. I would be more confident that the staff got that money than leaving a tip on a credit card, they would get what you left and in a timely manner.

I have long stopped giving us$ as tips as it has not been advantageous to do so for a long time, for a long time I have tipped in Rand.

Jane, while I am not happy carrying a lot of cash, and when I am in lodges for 5 weeks, it is a lot of cash, I have never had any problems and I leave it in the safe in the rooms or carry it on me when not at a lodge.

philw, I am not so sure about "US based generosity" and I am not also sure what a "kenyan English " person is, or why they feel as if they are second class citizens. Tipping is generally done at the end of the trip, so not sure why they are or think they are being treated as second class citizens.

Kind regards

KayeN is offline  
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Jun 2nd, 2012, 02:00 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 221
Hi Kaye

By "Kenyan english" I mean a Kenyan citizen of English ancestry - quite common inKenya. Camp staff know that local residents (irrespective of ancestry) do not tip anywhere near the amount of US tourists (or, after that, European tourists) and, as a result, do not look after them in the same way. It is wrong but it is the way to is. I am not saying that tipping at the suggested levels is wrong ( I do it myself) but it does have some consequences.

philw is offline  
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Jun 2nd, 2012, 08:54 PM
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Hi Phil

Being an Australian, I am told we are one of the worst tipping nations and I do not recall ever being looked after in a different way because of that and the staff never know what the tipping situation is until the end of the trip.

It is funny that you think generally Americans are generous tippers, as I am amazed at how often American fellow guests ask me what they should tip and at what they think is reasonable especially when there are more than a couple, to me they want to tip as if they are one person and sometimes when they are so incredibly demanding, I think they should be tipping everyone double.

It always gives me days of worry towards the end of each visit, as you don't want to be stingy, I don't won't to throw huge amounts of money to them but I certainly want them to know that I appreciate them doing a great job under what I often know to be very difficult circumstances.

Kind regards

KayeN is offline  
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Jun 3rd, 2012, 07:41 PM
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Hi Kaye,

Your last paragraph sums up the entire tipping "policy" perfectly well!!! Spot on!

Best Regards,
HariS is offline  
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Jun 4th, 2012, 06:36 AM
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 5
Hello everyone,

I've worked in the safari industry for 4 years now and this is my sentiments.

The majority of safari outfits have yet to realize that their most valuable asset is their guiding department. A Guide can make or break your stay. You spend 8 hours a day with this person if not more. He is not only your guide but your host, link with management, mealpartner and plenty more.

For some reason lodges are not paying their guides accordingly. On average, a guide will receive a salary of below R5000 a month. This is just above the minimum wage margin. Guides thus rely heavily on gratuities. My subjective view is that a minimum of R200 a day for your guide should apply. If he/she is crap, then adjust accordingly. But if he/she makes the experience unforgettable, gratification should be necessary.


ntabankosi is offline  
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Jun 4th, 2012, 06:47 AM
Join Date: Jun 2012
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I think the amount of a tip depend on the kind of service you get,so there is no standard amount.
Ekudeni is offline  
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Jun 5th, 2012, 06:01 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
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I would agree with you that a ranger makes or breaks a trip and that you are not paid accordingly! But quite frankly, no-one in the lodges seem to be! I disagree that most rangers spend that amount of time with you - I know of one camp where their time way exceeds that as 2 gamedrives plus every meal, but most camps are 2 x 3 hr gamedrives and maybe every other dinner. Some have no meals with you while others barely make a 3 hour gamedrive twice per day.

As a guest, we also feel that is it not our job to supplement your wages when we pay, in most cases, a large sum of money to stay in those lodges. Coming from a non-tipping nation of Australia, I also feel it is your job to do a good job and to make my experience unforgettable, in a good way of course! But in saying that, when others are tipping (and I guess I mainly mean those from the States) then that leaves me little choice otherwise I am left to look mean-spirited and stingy. I also am aware of how little you (and I mean those working in game reserves) do get paid and know that the tips mean a lot to you and to your families!

Kind regards

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