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Tipping on a long safari

Sydney, Australia
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Tipping on a long safari

I've read so many posts on this subject that my head is spinning!!! My husband and I will be spending 18 days on safari, 3 of which will be spent hiking into the Embakai crater accompanied by a Maasai guide. We'll be in 2-man tents and will have a driver/guide and a cook. How much should we pay as a couple for each of these 3 people and how much for camp boxes? mfuwe, your comments in particular would be most appreciated.

Findlay, Ohio
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for Tanzania, Ngorongoro Conservation Area
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1. Re: Tipping on a long safari

If it were I, then I would (assuming that the driver/guide and cook were good and offered good service) probably allow for $10 a day total maximum, and I might round that down to $150 for the 18 days.

If the Maasai guide were good I might give him $5.

Tipping is always discretionary to the client. I would never think I had to tip. When I've been on a tour and the guide is not good (I was with one once with my family for 3 weeks and she was terrible) and I didn't mind a bit walking away leaving her hand empty.

Isle of Man, United...
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2. Re: Tipping on a long safari

OK. I will pick up the poisoned chalice. (just this once.)

Tipping is emotive and there are many ideas on how much to give. Some are frankly apalling. (Some folk cannot even differentiate between per car load and per pax in the car.)

It is per CAR. Most safari outfits even specify this on their itinerary blurb.

I usually give around US$15 per day per car. This is supported by my current itinerary which quotes "- Gratuities & Tips for the drivers (recommendations below)

-$15-20 per day per group for Driver Guide."

I use the minima of $15 but then top it up, round it up, depending on what the guy did. Good spotting and helpful drivers get a lump sum for that and I tell them that is how it was earned. In the unlikely event it was only so so, they get a so so tip.

I have only ever experienced really bad once and he did not last for long.

The only other variable is the length of the trip. For 21 days $15 is getting top heavy so I may shade down a bit ($300 instead of $315 in the example) as that is quite a big sum in TZ terms. In the days when I did short 7 day trips the literal $100 would have become $150 possibly.

To your trip I honestly suggest your 'base' tip to the Driver/guide would be $270, round it up to $300.

I assume the guide and cook are only for the Empakai hike. In which case 3 days at $10 is generous for each. If your driver is any good you could ask him discreetly if you trust him.

You will probably have an Armed Ranger with you too. I doubt he will be with you for the three days and he will get a better pay than the cook etc., so a simple tip of $15-20 would suffice.

Lodge Camp boxes? Assuming all meals paid for I would normally put in $30. It depends on the Lodge, length of stay, staff attitude and the size of my Bar bill at check out.

I hope this has been of assistance.

Sounds like a fun trip. Enjoy Empakai and watch out for Buffalo especially at night.

Isle of Man, United...
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3. Re: Tipping on a long safari

So Karl beat me by two minutes and undercut me too! The latter must be a first. But he is right, I erred on the generous side for once. But it is an emotive isssue and the best thing is to be comfortable in what you do.

Sydney, Australia
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4. Re: Tipping on a long safari

Thanks mfuwe and Karl for making this issue clear. Whereas most of the posts on this forum gave prices per car, the majority of safari companies stipulate per person, and I'm sure this is the reason why so many people are confused by it all. I know from my past trekking days that it always works out a lot more when there's just the two of us, but when people do their job and do it very well, we believe in rewarding them for their efforts.

If a cook is with us a lot of the time, would your rate remain the same?

Sydney, Australia
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5. Re: Tipping on a long safari

I was surprised by the disparity in your answers for the driver/guide, i.e. $150-300. That's a pretty big difference. So just to further clarify, we'll actually have the driver for 21 days. So going by what both of you have said, I believe we're looking at:

Driver/Guide - $200-$300 in total.

Cook $10 per day (uncertain how many days)

2 nights in lodges @ $30 per day for the camp box

Maasai guide @ $5 per day

Armed ranger - $15 in total

The cook is the only variable but I thought we'd be having him quite a bit of the time, but I could be wrong. I appreciate tipping is discretionary but in order to get it right you do need to know the range and you guys have all the answers :)

Isle of Man, United...
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6. Re: Tipping on a long safari

I deliberately erred on the high side and $300 is not unreasable for someone who has been with your night and day for three weeks. He can make or break your trip.

I would actually pay the Maasai and Ranger in TZshillings otherwise they will lose out when they change it. $ equiv would be 10,000Tz.

The cook is the unknown. I would think he will only be with you for the Empakai trek as you seem to be staying in Lodges elsewhere. $30 is not unreasonable, again in TZ money, bearing in mind he has to light the fires, prepare the food, cook it and serve it as well as probably do the housekeeping in Camp.

I always treat my cooks well and never get poisoned. He will appreciate your interest, and help, and be happy to show you "Camp cuisine".

Sydney, Australia
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7. Re: Tipping on a long safari

mfuwe, thanks again. We're actually staying in 2-man tents except for the first and last nights of our trip plus 2 nights at ikoma bush camp. That's why I'd assumed we'd be having a cook along a lot of the time.

Saint Paul...
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for Tanzania, Serengeti National Park
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8. Re: Tipping on a long safari

Just be comfortable. As they say jisikie nyumbani: feel at home. Give what makes you feel comfortable.

This is all personal opinion and since Karl and Mfuwe have already responded, I'll say that for 18 days and 2 people, I would think that $15/day for your guide is about right and could be a little more if you are really thrilled and impressed with the service. If it were a shorter safari, I might recommend a little more than $15. Of course, if you are not so satisfied, reduce it.

As for the cook, I typically recommend a little less than what you give your guide per day.

And the tip box at the lodges... wow, I think I'm tight. I better loosen up a bit because Mfuwe has me topped. Last time I gave $30, it was because I got the room free. Oh, right, Mfuwe usually spends several nights at a place so then the $30 is about right, afterall. Regardless, that sounds like a very solid tip for the tip box to me.

Isle of Man, United...
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9. Re: Tipping on a long safari

Koala-blue,

If you are only in Lodges for the start and finish then your cook will be with you for the bulk of the trip (which sounds great fun). In that case up to $100 would not go amiss (rule of thumb is he would get half of the driver guide who is in effect the Bossman.)

This brings me to Brian's shock at my philanthropy.

Relax Brian. As you know I don't do one night stands so mostly the $30 would be for three nights stay hence my ratio of tip to Bar bill, always a good sign of a pleasant stay!! Like any one nighter you do not get the chance to build relationships as you would with a longer visit.

So for your stays of a simple overnight $10 is about right but again all this is optional and dependant on perceived service levels.

Sydney, Australia
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10. Re: Tipping on a long safari

Thank you again mfewe. That all sounds reasonable to me and we're happy to go along with all your suggestions. Hooray for the experts ... you take away all the guesswork.