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Gifts for Guide?

Seattle, Washington
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54 posts
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Gifts for Guide?

Thanks in advance for your advice!

We leave for Tanzania in 3 days- Yay- and are trying to decide on a gift for our tour guide. Especially since we will be there over the Christmas holiday, we would like to bring a small gift in addition to our tip. Any suggestions? I have read in other forum posts a suggestion for a calendar with photography from your home/region. Being from Seattle, I could find some scenic photographic calendars. Other ideas, though?

I also found out that my guide has 2 young children so I will probably bring them each a small stuffed animal of a NW animal.

Also, I have heard from a friend that travelled to Tanzania a few years ago that I should tip the guide at the beginning of the trip compared to the end. He said that if we tip generously at the beginning, the guide will be sure to make it a more "private" safari. As he explained, the guides will radio eachother when they spot animals, causing a lot of traffic/crowds. He suggested that if you tip upfront, they will not do this. Can anyone speak to this? It seems a little strange to me...

Thanks again!

Easy Travel & Tours Ltd
Nature & Wildlife Tours, Cultural Tours, Safaris
Gosheni Safaris Africa
Safaris, Other Outdoor Activities
African Scenic Safaris
Climbing Tours, Hiking & Camping Tours, Nature & Wildlife Tours, Safaris
Arusha, Tanzania
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751 posts
10 reviews
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1. Re: Gifts for Guide?

I don't suggest you to tip a guide at the beginning, Its better you do it at the end of the trip. 99% of visitors tip at the end of the safari and not at the beginning. You only can tip the waiters and porters daily but for the guide do it at the end of the safari. If you Tip at the beginning of the safari and the guide was expecting much than what you gave him, do you think he will offer you good service???. Tip at the end of the safari, am sure he will be trying his best to make you happy so as he can get good tip from you also. According to our Tanzanian culture, a gift can be anything but according to my experience, African don't act as European/Americans. You can buy him something like a very simple and cheap hand watch, sun glasses etc. This is better than bringing him a calender as am sure he will just take it from you but he wont loves It.

We african, we believe anything from America and Europe are better compared to what we have here.

Edited: 16 December 2013, 06:17
Arusha
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137 posts
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2. Re: Gifts for Guide?

I think the idea of the calendar is not too bad, because specially the tour guides have lots of contact to foreign people are are usually very interested in their cultures and home countries.

But sure, something more "useful" could be better. You can even buy a basket of fresh fruits or maybe a special printed towel or anything. "Prestige objects" like sunglasses, watch or a small radio are nice too, but me personally I don't like them veeeery much for gifts.

Ottawa, Canada
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3. Re: Gifts for Guide?

First trip, I bought baseball cap for drivers....not black or blue is recommended. Boring beige. Second trip, sunglasses. Very well received. As mentioned, gift giving is different there and seems to be more for the giver, but we know that any gift choices for someone we don't know can be challenging.

It is nice that you would consider his family. Stuffies would be nice, and some wives seem to like a calendar...but know they are not as knowledgeable about animals or places outside of africa. Tea towels also appreciated, but perhaps a small hand lotion also.

There are several extensive threads about gift ideas on this forum also.

Please leave tip until end, and any reputable company driver will respect your requests for things like cell phone or radio use. Be straight at the start of your 'personal' expectations such as early game drive starts, breaks, use or radio or not. You are the client, and then you tip at the end to the level of satisfaction.

Safari njema (safe travels) and have a great trip.

Edited: 16 December 2013, 11:23
Arusha, Tanzania
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751 posts
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4. Re: Gifts for Guide?

You are right, I like your points Quiltingmamma, (Be straight at the start of your 'personal' expectations such as early game drive starts, breaks, use or radio or not. You are the client, and then you tip at the end to the level of satisfaction).

Arusha, Tanzania
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751 posts
10 reviews
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5. Re: Gifts for Guide?

You are right, I like your points Quiltingmamma, (Be straight at the start of your 'personal' expectations such as early game drive starts, breaks, use or radio or not. You are the client, and then you tip at the end to the level of satisfaction).

State College, Pa
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777 posts
151 reviews
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6. Re: Gifts for Guide?

Since we have had the pleasure to have the same guide for two trips to Uganda and one for three trips to Tanzania we had an advantage of knowing might be a nice gift for him. Knowing each had family with small children we gave him items such as pens, pencils and small games for them. On first trip with the one in Tanzania we were so appreciative of his attention and efforts to work with us on birding we gave him our hardback copy of Birds of East Africa. We noted the reference he was using was literally falling apart and he seemed quite taken back by our copy. So, we left it for him. And, he was using it when we returned.

During first trip in Uganda we noted our guide was keeping bird sighting list on back of an envelope and had all his trip paperwork (park forms, etc) in a tattered folder. For the second trip my wife gave him one of those transparent zippered or zip lock folder things with a couple of pens and a note book. He was delighted and made a point to show it to us as he used it during that trip.

Prior to that same trip we learned (from the safari company) that our guide had recently gotten married. So, my wife asked our contact there what might be an appropriate wedding present. Made for a nice way to surprise our guide and something special for his wife.

The above might not be of much help for first time contact with guide however. Usually after each trip we later mailed our guide a printed photo or two of him with us or a special scene he made comments about during the safari. As another poster suggested, I liked the idea of a picture or two from one's home area. Can you imagine the surprise one guide had when we were telling him about lakes freezing over such that vehicles are driven onto the ice so people can drill holes and go fishing? Or another was always asking about my truck. Not to brag or flaunt our wealth but means to share about our culture. Besides going on safari to see wildlife/habitat we also enjoy the interaction with the guide as to his culture. Same opportunity for him.

Ottawa, Canada
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10,858 posts
137 reviews
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7. Re: Gifts for Guide?

It is true about the guide books. More companies are providing them for their drivers, but I left my bird book behind first time, and then brought two more for the group guides. They are very expensive in Tanzania. One had 2 general guide books of animals with birds, and had them lovingly wrapped in plastic in his glove compartment to protect them. Reference books may get a lot of use by the drivers, so they should be a good consideration.

Arusha, Tanzania
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591 posts
16 reviews
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8. Re: Gifts for Guide?

Examples of some gifts I've given my guide and his family (same guide on three trips and now a good friend and business partner):

For my guide- T-shirt from the New Jersey shore, baseball cap, inexpensive digital camera; bonus tip so he could buy special things for his kids;

For his three children - books, map of the USA, Matchbox cars for the youngest son (a huge hit!), UNO card game, t-shirts from the Jersey shore, lotions and body sprays (for 2 adolescent girls);

For his wife: matching bracelet and necklace (she loves it and wears it for all special occasions; not a style you'd find in Tanzania); body lotions and perfumes.

Before my first safari I inquired of my TO about my guide's marital status and ages/number of kids.

They were so excited to receive gifts from America.

Minneapolis...
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9. Re: Gifts for Guide?

We brought along many postcards of our state. I brought as many as I could find with the animals and birds found in MN, the varying seasons, and other scenes of interest. The ones of the ice palace built for the Winter Carnival in St. Paul, MN and of ice fishing and the ice fishing houses were a little harder to explain.

Edited: 16 December 2013, 21:13
nyc
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14,750 posts
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10. Re: Gifts for Guide?

There's actually a difference between Tips and Gratuities.

the TIPS - 'to insure promptness; - often for the matre'd to get a good table.

the GRATUITIES - showing your gratitude for a job well done.

nowadays they both seem to fall under the simple word of TIPS, but are not really the same.

Give guide tip at conclusion of safari.

Gifts, especially if guide married and might have young children, girls especially - love those kits of body wash/lotion and or with perfume. This is the perfect time of year to find. For boys, baseball caps or team t-shirts. For the guide himself, sun glasses work as these are not only needed, but often get lost... good to have back-ups.