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Safari Tipping Guide

You booked your safari months ago and it’s finally time to start packing and taking care of final preparations –the trip anticipation is building. In an effort to make the final weeks leading up to the trip as easy as possible, we are sharing multiple resources including our guide to packing for safari as well as the following guide to tipping the wonderful people who are going to take care of you along the way.

Safari is largely all-inclusive, but one aspect not captured in the cost of the trip is gratuities for the staff. While tipping is not required, substantial tipping is common practice and so if you have an exceptional experience—and we find that most people do and are eager to show their gratitude—we recommend bringing cash gratuities in USD (as opposed to the local currency) to be handed out to the staff at the end of your stay at a lodge. We have included more information on when to tip below.

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to start planning an African Safari. Our team can match you with the itineraries, experiences and accommodations that are right for you.

How Much to Tip on Safari

The recommended amounts below are discretionary, but make for a great initial guide to see what’s customary. Tipping is done per person, per day. For half-days due to arrivals or departures, you can halve the amounts below.

We recommend pre-calculating how much tip money you will need and then buffering it by $20-40 per day to avoid running short. Even if you don’t use that money for tipping, it is nice to have for community visits, gift shops or as general back-up for unforeseen costs. That said, if you do run short, you should be able to tip on your credit card at most camps.

Note: All values are in USD.

Tipping on Safari

For your time on safari, at safari lodges or camps:

  • Professional safari guide or specialist guide: $20-25 per person, per day
  • Safari tracker, if applicable: $15-20 per person, per day (Almost all of the safari lodges in South Africa provide trackers; and there may be trackers at select camps in Kenya.)
  • Lodge or camp staff: $20-25 per person, per day—this is distributed equally across the entire staff
  • Butler, if applicable: $15-20 per person, per day
  • Luggage porter: $3-5 per person, per transfer
  • Mokoro poler: $5-10 per person (This is applicable to safaris in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia.)
  • Massage therapist: $5-10 per treatment
  • Transfer driver: $10 per person, per transfer

Tipping for Gorilla Trekking

Specific to gorilla trekking, we recommend:

  • Gorilla trekking guide: $15 per person, per trek
  • Gorilla trekking trackers: $10 per person, per day for the group of trackers
  • Gorilla trekking porters: $5 per porter, per day

Tipping pre- and post-safari

For time spent in other non-safari destinations such as Cape Town, the Cape Winelands or Nairobi as an add-on to safari, we recommend the following:

  • Driver for airport transfers: $10 total each way, $20 total
  • Guide for a half-day tour: $20-30 total
  • Guide for a full-day tour: $40-60 total
  • Bellhops: $2/bag
  • Housekeeping: $3/night
  • Restaurants: We recommend tipping 10-15 percent of the total bill for good service.

Do we need to tip with cash?

Cash is overwhelmingly preferred in order to avoid the delayed processing required for credit card tips as well as to confirm the recipient receives the full amount you’d like to give (and doesn't lose any to credit card fees).

For larger groups or those concerned about traveling with large amounts of cash, it is possible to tip via credit card at most lodges. They will ask that you specify how much you want to tip, and to whom, in order to charge your credit card. This may depend on the camp’s internet connection—for example, some of the best tented camps (such as the tented camps in the Serengeti) will not have internet connection—and/or internet strength as their credit card machine must have a good connection to run your card. At these camps, tips must be given in cash.

Note: If tipping in cash, the USD notes must be crisp, new notes not printed before 2006 in order for locals to be able to exchange them. We also recommend bringing a good amount of smaller bills (mostly $1s and $5s but $10s can come in handy, too) for quick and easy tipping of luggage porters, massage therapists and transfer drivers.

When should we tip?

Most tips will be given towards the end of your stay, prior to your departure. The exception would be tipping a specialist guide such as your canoeing guide or massage therapist after the relevant activity or treatment—although it is acceptable to tip these people at the end of your stay as well. Gratuities for your safari guide and/or tracker can be handed to them each directly upon your departure. They are likely to accompany you to the airstrip for your departing flight so you can hand it over when you say goodbye at the airstrip. Gratuities for the lodge team should be handed to the manager or placed in the tip box as these will be pooled and distributed evenly among the entire staff. If there was anyone else on the team who you’d like to personally tip, they will likely be there to say goodbye upon departure but if they are not, you can ask that the manager assist in getting them a tip.

For gorilla trekking, it is standard practice to tip at the end of each trek, even if you are doing more than one day of trekking. This is because each trek may have a different guide, trackers and porters and you may not see them again the next day.

For non-safari destinations, you can tip your driver at the end of a transfer and your guide at the end of a tour. If you know you’ll be spending a few days with your guide or driver, you can tip them at the end of your time with them. It is OK to ask them if you’ll be seeing them again on your trip so that you can tip accordingly.

How to Make it Special...and Seamless

Pack a small box of thank you notes and envelopes so that you have a little card and envelope to place your tip in. If you so wish, you can write a short note to the recipient of the tip to express your thanks.

Another option is to go ahead and divvy up the cash in envelopes prior to the trip. Put the name of each lodge on the envelope so that on your day of departure, all you have to do is reach for the envelope for that lodge.

Learn More about Indagare Safaris

Indagare Safari is dedicated to perfecting our members’ safari experience from the initial destination and itinerary matchmaking, including the best guides and lodges, to suggesting the ultimate legacy and purpose of the trip—whether it’s your first safari or your tenth time in the bush (believe us, we know exploring in the wild is addictive).

Published onApril 25, 2024

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