Tips for Tipping: The Definitive Guide On Safari

A regular question received by our consultants is that of who to tip and how much while on safari in Africa.

Tipping in Africa, while not compulsory, often contributes a substantial amount toward ensuring that those working in the service industry earn a living wage. It should, of course, be done on merit, for good service, and nobody should feel obliged at any point to hand out wads of cash for poor service.

Tipping on safari in Africa - who to tip & how much

In this blog, we will attempt to clarify who to tip, how to tip, and how much is the norm, in order for you to plan for your trip, budget-wise, and not have to worry about getting it wrong.

Currency tips for tipping

epSos .deBudgeting on safari - epSos .de

Tipping is often done in small denominations. Safaris, accommodation, etc. are booked and paid for in advance, or by credit card. This means that often, especially if you’re only in a country for a short period, you may not have local currency.

We advise changing a small amount – using this guide you can calculate about how much you’ll need for tipping during your stay in each country – of money into the local currency, and asking for it small denominations.

If exchange rates (see latest ones at confuse you, go into a local grocery store and check the price of milk and bread to get an idea of the value of the local currency.

Southern Africa

South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia and parts of Mozambique all accept South African Rands (ZAR) as tips. Zimbabwe, who have no local currency anymore, accept US$, Botswana Pula and ZAR. They’ve also recently accepted the Australian Dollar, Chinese Yuan, Japanese Yen and Indian Rupee as legal tender.

East Africa

Tipping with US$ in East Africa is generally acceptable, although even there, for smaller amounts, the local currency is preferred. Exchanging foreign currency may not be easy for some people working with smaller amounts, such as porters.

To get around this, we advise changing a small amount – using this guide you can calculate about how much you’ll need for tipping during your stay in each country – of money into the local currency, and asking for it small denominations.

For bigger tips, such as the tips for your tour guides etc., US$ or local currency are both completely acceptable.

If using US$, please ensure that they were printed post-2008, and are not old or torn, as these may not be accepted. Always keep large amounts of cash in a safe, or money belt close to your body. Carry a small amount in a pocket, or easily accessible place, for day-to-day expenses. You don’t want to be pulling out piles of notes to pay for an ice cold beer!

Changing Currency On The Street

Throughout Africa, you will be offered currency exchanges by people on the street. While it is tempting to avoid conversion commissions, this practice illegal and best avoided. Jail in Africa is not a nice place.

Gifts as tips

Many returning visitors bring personalised gifts for their safari guides etc. Even if you’re a first-time visitor, small gifts are received gratefully. Pens, footballs and pumps, clothes and magazines are just some of the most desired items. These can often be bartered, too, for curios and the like.

How To Tip in Africa

Tipping is not compulsory, and the amounts that you tip each person is also not set. Do remember, though, when tipping larger amounts (e.g. to your guide at the end of a 10-day safari), to place the tip in a sealed envelope, and hand it directly to the person for which it is intended.

Many people feel embarrassed by the whole tipping procedure. There is no need for this – tipping is firmly entrenched in the tourism industry in Africa and brings with it no embarrassment at all.

Communal Tip Jar

In many of the lodges and hotels, a communal tip jar is kept, so that your tip can be shared between both the staff you see and those ensuring that your stay is comfortable, behind the scenes. Speak to reception on arrival to establish the system used there.

Tipping On Overlanding Trips

Briony ChisholmKitty costs - Briony ChisholmOn many overlanding tours, a kitty is kept. Each person contributes a set amount at the beginning and the guide tips where necessary throughout the trip (excluding restaurant tips). A running tab is kept to keep track of where the money goes, and anything left at the end is returned.

Who To Tip on your travels in Africa

The most often-asked question is ‘Who do we tip?’, as this differs significantly from other continents. In Africa, we tip for good service by porters, transfer/taxi drivers, petrol attendants, wait staff, hotel/lodge staff, guides, trackers and mokoro polers.

While some countries differ on tipping etiquette, in general, southern and East African tipping is relatively generic. Some hotels/restaurants/safaris include a service charge in the overall bill, so ask about this at each establishment.

Airport/Hotel Porters Tips

Elvert BarnesHotel Porter tips - Elvert Barnes USD1-2 per movement of luggage.

Tips for Taxi Drivers/ Transfers

StockographieTaxi tips - Stockographie Many taxi drivers don’t expect a tip at all. Rounding the fare up, or adding 10%, is a nice gesture.

For longer transfers, a 10% tip is fair.

Tipping Petrol Attendants

DieselDemonPetrol Pumps tips - DieselDemon In Africa, petrol (gas) is poured by attendants at garages. They will often also clean your windscreen and check oil, water and tyres. A small tip is welcomed, preferably in local currency (e.g. ZAR5 in South Africa).

Parking Attendants/Car Guards Tips

BrandonParking tips - BrandonAgain, something fairly unique to Africa. While some car guards are officially employed, others may be doing it of their own accord and their tips may be their sole income. Be aware of chancers, though and tip only when you return to your vehicle.

A good rule of thumb here is to greet the car guard when you arrive, get his/her name, and offer up that you will tip on return. Here, too, local currency is preferred.

In some of the bigger cities, official parking attendants charge hourly rates. Be sure to find out what this is when you park, to avoid nasty surprises on your return!

Tipping Hotel Staff

John StavelyHotel tipping - John Stavely Many hotels have a communal tip jar which ensures that tips are equally divided between housekeepers etc. Tipping 10% or USD5 to 10 per person per day is recommended, depending on the standard of service received.

Waitering Staff Tips

Graham ChurchardWaiter tipping - Graham ChurchardIn many places, wait staff rely on tips to earn a living wage. A 10-15% tip on the bill total is usual. Check your bill before adding on a tip, as some restaurants – especially on large tables – may automatically add on a service charge.

Tips for Bar Staff

Tyrone AdamsBar tipping - Tyrone AdamsThe loose change left over from paying is sufficient.

Tipping Day Tour Guides

Briony ChisholmDay tripping budget guide - Briony Chisholm USD5 for a half day tour; USD10 for a full day tour.

Tipping On Safari

Thomas SlyGame Ranger - Thomas Sly

A general rule of thumb on safari is to tip your guide USD10 and your tracker USD5 per person per day. This tip is given at the end of the safari, not on a daily basis. This amount can be adapted according to the number of people on the safari, and a ‘per day per car’ amount may be more suitable for bigger parties.

Safari camp/lodge staff which can include chefs, wait staff, butlers, housekeepers etc. depending on the level of luxury, may also be tipped. As in hotels, there is often a communal tip ‘jar’ for this and a reasonable rate to go on is USD10 to 20 per person per day.

Tipping Mokoro Polers In Okavango

KateMokoro poler tipping - Kate USD5 per day.

Tipping On Kilimanjaro

Class VKili Porters tipping - Class V

Tipping on Kilimanjaro has become much more standardised recently. A general rule is that about 10% of the tour cost is tipped, but different operators have different processes. Also, the amount given depends on the size of the group (and the number of support staff.) 

A group of two hikers may have one guide, one assistant guide, five to six porters and a cook. A group of six hikers would have three to four guides, two to three assistant guides, seventeen to eighteen porters and two to three cooks.

As a general guide, tips are given as follows. These amounts are per group per day:

  • Guide USD20-25
  • Assistant Guide USD15-20
  • Cook USD10-15
  • Porter USD5-10

In general, the full amount, from all hikers, is put together and given to the guide, who will then distribute the tips. This, again, differs from operator to operator, so inquire before the trip about preferred tipping etiquette.

For more tips and travel advice talk to one of our budget travel experts - they've been all over Africa, so they know the ropes.

If you liked this post, these trips cover similar ground…

Leave a Comment or Ask a Question

comments powered by Disqus

Places Mentioned in this Post

Similar & Related Blog Posts

Below you’ll find further reading and articles related or similar to this post.

How to Make the Most of your African Safari

ChantelleSBased on experience there are some things you can do (and not do) to make the best of your budget safari in Africa, such as... Read on

How to do your Safari right - choosing your travel style

Bernard Dupont Overlanding? Accomodated? Camping or lodge type? Choosing the right Safari option is an important - but often confusing - pre-trip exercise. We've put together a list of the different types of Safari and their related pros and cons. Read on

When To Go Where On Safari: Best Times to Visit

Barbara EcksteinWe often get asked when the best time is to go on safari. In this blog, we give the best months to visit our top destinations, and explain why. Read on

How Much Does it Cost to Go on Safari?

Ross Huggett From $120 per day for an all-inclusive safari package. That's the no frills option, but the sky is the limit in terms of luxury if you want to spend more. Seasonality, level of accommodation and the destinations you're visiting all make a difference as we explain in this post. Read on

What To Expect on Safari

Briony ChisholmGoing on safari is an incredible experience. We are often asked by clients what to expect. Here is an answer to this, after a recent Greater Kruger National Park safari. Read on

What to Take on African Safaris - An Easy Guide to Packing

Pocket Knife by Stephen JenningsHere’s a handy guide to packing for your African Safari. A list of some indispensable items to take on a safari in Africa, as well as some handy extras to make your trip all the more enjoyable. Read on

Kids On Safari: Yes or No?

SarahTZ Here we break down the ins-and-outs and do’s and don’ts of travelling with children in Africa. Read on

Size Up Africa Overland Safaris - Small vs Big

Want to know how many people will be on your overland safari with you? Compare the group sizes of Overland Africa Safaris and see the main differences between overlanding safaris big and small. Read on

Southern Africa Highlights: A Bucket List of Travel Treasures

Charles HaynesA bucket list of places to see and some best things to do in southern Africa. These are just a smattering of the incredible sights, sounds and activities that Africa has to offer. Start planning your trip highlights here! Read on

African Safari Vehicles - Every which way to explore the African bush, from biggest to smallest

Wajahat Mahmood So you're off on Safari through the wild and vast plains of Africa? What vehicles can you expect to be travelling in? Get a comprehensive overview here. From foot to Overland Truck, and everything between. Read on

Going Green on Safari - 6 Tips for Eco-Travel in Africa

The Safari Tart Finding ways to reduce the environmental impact of travelling seems complicated at times - so let's walk lightly through some ways to green your travels in Africa. You don't need to give up on luxuries and sacrifice on comfort, or blow your budget and forsake modern amenities in order to be a more eco-friendly traveller... Read on

Idyllic Budget Safari Honeymoon packages in Africa

ShutterstockThe excitement and rush of your wedding is over and now it’s time to relax with your new spouse and enjoy your honeymoon. What better choice of honeymoon package than a safari in Africa, with its huge skies, incredible game viewing and spectacular scenery? Read on

The best of Cape Town on any budget: In the Mother City

ShutterstockThis blog, the first in our three-part series on things to do in Cape Town, lists just some of the incredible offerings the Mother City has for both locals and visitors in and around the CBD. Read on

The Best African Overlanding Adventures on a Tight Budget

Shutterstock You’ve decided it’s time for an adventure through Africa and are looking into overlanding. In this blog will explain everything you’ll need to know before you book your trip, and what our favourite routes are. Read on

Safaris for Seniors? Safe, fun & easy budget senior travel in Africa

Are African Safaris for seniors? Yes! African adventure travel is hugely popular with the growing trend of senior travellers jet-setting around the globe to all manner of exotic destinations. Thre great news: more and more budget tours are ideal for senior travellers in Africa! See why 50+ safaris are a big hit with mature globetrotters... Read on

Our TrustPilot Reviews

Show us some FB Love

Follow @RealAfroSafaris