Tipping Guide in Africa

tipping culture
When going to a different place, tipping is most often approached with great trepidation. Should I tip? If so, how much? Sometimes, it even causes unnecessary travel anxiety. So if you plan to go to Africa anytime soon, or you’re planning for your African adventure, here’s a guide to tell you all about tipping in Africa.

Tipping culture in Africa

First of all, tipping in Africa is not a compulsory affair. It is only done on the merit of good service; a simple appreciation for a job well done. Ultimately, it is up to you if you are going to hand tips and if so, how much. Of course, these tips are adjustable according to your experience and the quality of service you get. Generally, tourists tip higher when they’re pleased for outstanding assistance and low to average for mediocre services. Again, it is all up to you.

While a number of people work to make your trip or safari an unforgettable one, the question is, who should you tip?

● Tip for great service. You are not obligated to tip everyone who attends to you but you can always hand out a little gratuity at your discretion even to those you think are “just doing their jobs”.

● “Professionals” are usually not tipped. These include pilots, cabin crew, managers, sales assistants, property owners, and medical workers.

● Tip the front-liners. Guides, drivers, trackers, porters, waitresses, waiters and spa therapists and petrol attendants are normally tipped.

Don’t forget the behind-the-scenes staff. Always remember that there are those who work behind the scenes to make your experience pleasant and without whom, your entire experience may be different. Think housekeepers, chefs, gardeners, guards, maintenance workers, and poaching units.

Why you should tip

tipping culture
Often, you will find that the front liners in this industry are earning a basic living wage only and often times doesn’t have benefits included such as Health Insurance, Paid Sick Leave, Vacation Leaves etc. This, unfortunately, happens more often than not in this industry and while you should always try to book with companies that pay decent salaries and benefits to their staff, these are still the people where tipping will make a big difference in their lives and often a much-needed supplement to their normal wage.

Tips are also more than just a “thank you” for driving you around, for showing you the Big Five, or for making you a hearty meal. These are the people you will spend the most time with on your trip so an appreciation and acknowledgment for the things they do beyond their apparent duties are greatly appreciated.

Long working hours. Workers, both front-liners and back-end crew, usually start their shift very early to prepare for things like guests’ coffee and breakfast, safari vehicle, and other chores to maintain running a sleek facility. To add to that, they also stay even after all the activities, way past your nightcap. All these to ensure your comfortable stay and superb experience.

The extra mile. Every little thing that would make your overall travel experience something you ever dreamt of like going back to a part of the park to witness a predator action, searching for the mammal or bird you’re eyeing to see, proactively preparing your favorite drink, or even remember your name. These tiny little details deserve some recognition.

The travel expense. Majority of the staff live far away from the property or facility. Some of them even live in rural areas or towns that aren’t that easy to get to. Your tip can greatly help them with the costs of traveling back and forth every day.

The time away from home. Being away from home especially to loved ones is not an easy thing but because game parks are usually too far away, most staff goes on duty for several weeks at a time and hence, only see their families seldom or after a long absence at home.

You see, your tip will really go a long way and it’s not only helpful in terms of financial support but also emotional. Sure, safari packages can be expensive especially if you’re on a luxury safari but know that these costs do not only cover service salaries and property use. It also covers park concession fees, maintenance, food and beverages, WiFi, electricity or solar power facilities, security, and many more.

Right Amount of Tipping

The amount of tip will basically depend on you – your budget, your experience, your ***. For meals at restaurants or bars, at the least tip 10 percent of the bill is generally given. For bars where you only get a bottle or two of drink, you can just leave the change. Really, it all depends on you. To give you a rough guide on tipping, here’s a ballpark of how much to tip in Africa:

● Porters: 1-2 USD per bag

● Gas station attendants: 1-2 USD

● Cab driver: Based on your total fare, round up to the nearest 10

● Restaurants: Tip a minimum of 10 percent of your bill unless a service charge is already included

● Tour Guide: 15-30 USD/couple a day

● Safari Driver: 15-30 USD/couple a day

● Tracker/Spotter: 15-30 USD/couple a day

● Airport/hotel transfers: 1-2 USD

● Personal butlers: 5-10 USD per day

● Cooks during mountain treks: 5-10 USD per day

Of course, this is just a general guide and you are very welcome to adjust the amount. Most safari camps also have tipping boxes where you can just drop your tips and the total amount will be later on divided to the staff. This is a way to “tip” camp staff that you don’t necessarily interact with everyday. Also, here are general *** for specific countries in Africa when it comes to tipping:

Tanzania

● Normally, people tip Maasai dancers after performing their traditional dances.

● Tipping Kilimanjaro crew (guides, cooks, porters, etc.) is also a norm, especially if the trek to the summit is successful.

● It is common to hand tips to hotel staff, porters, skippers and PADI staff in Zanzibar.

● It is not common to hand tips to spa attendants and taxi drivers, but tipping for outstanding service is always appreciated.

● Giving material things instead of cash is also an acceptable and charming gesture whether it is to a child who just helped you or lead you the way (you can give the “tip” in a form of a gift instead of money) or to your Kilimanjaro crew – climbing gears, useful climbing attires, gloves, etc. will be highly appreciated.

Kenya

● Normally, people tip Maasai dancers after performing their traditional dances.

● Tips in Kenya are expected to be in Kenyan shillings.

● It’s common to hand tips to spa attendants per treatment. For example, you get a manicure and a massage, you will tip twice. Rule of the thumb is 100 KES per treatment.

South Africa

● Tips are expected to be given in Rand. However, some places accept USD.

● Rovos Rail staff expects to tip.

● It is common to hand tips to petrol attendants, golf caddies as well as car guards.

Mauritius

● It is common to hand tips to hotel staff, porters, skippers and golf caddies.

● Restaurant bills usually include sales tax. In which case, tipping is not expected. However, it is totally up to you especially if you find the service and/or food exceptionally tip-worthy.

Seychelles

● It is common to hand tips tohotel staff, porters, skippers, PADI staff and golf caddies.

Best way to hand tips

tipping culture
Put in an envelope via the manager. If there is someone you specifically want to tip (especially if it’s a large amount), say in a safari camp, and you can’t find the person or you can’t see that person for some reason, you can place your tip inside an envelope with the person’s name written on it and hand it to the camp manager.

Drop in a tip box. Most hotels, camps, etc. has a tip box in the main area or lounge. There are also times there’s a specific box for each (your guide, tracker, etc.).

● Direct hand-over. You can always hand out the tip directly to the staff you want to give gratuity.

Leave in your accommodation/lodging. This is another way to eliminate the possible awkward tipping phase. However, staff may think it is something you’ve forgotten so it is very possible that they will run after you to “return” your cash.

● Credit card bill. Although not universally available, facilities with credit card machines can add your tip on your bill. Just let them know and they will handle it for you.

Awkward questions answered

Is it rude not to tip?

Frankly, not tipping is frowned upon in a culture like Africa where salary is not like Europe. We know that the tips really help them, their kids etc. so if you know in your heart you are in a position to give, we highly recommend this. This is better than giving charity because you actually reward a service well done. If for a reason you are really not in a position to do so, then of course it will not be forced on you.

My budget is limited, can I give lower than the guidelines?

Yes. Tipping is ultimately up to you, unless the particular property/facility bills you a service charge, for example in some fancy restaurants.

Is there another way to show my gratitude apart from tipping?

Tipping is per your discretion. Nobody goes to jail for not tipping. Aside from cash, material gifts are highly appreciated or even just leaving your change behind. You can also purchase from local stores and let them keep the change or perhaps buy it for a higher price, if you may. Of course, a simple thank you is also well received.

It’s so awkward to tip, can that be included in my tour cost instead?

Yes, just let us know and we will give an estimate to add on top of your tour.

I only want to tip a specific staff and not the others, is that okay?

Yes. Again, tipping is per your discretion. You can tip certain staff higher amount or you can tip some of them nothing at all, depending on your experience. We do recommend giving even just a little amount for their service, though.

Now that you have learned about the tipping culture in Africa, check out this remarkable tours that you can try when you explore the continent:

10 Days Serengeti Wildebeest Migration Safari

7 Days The Great Wildebeest Migration Calving Safari

10 Days Serengeti Wildebeest Migration Safari    

Written by: Branded Africa