In East Africa are two popular safari countries, Kenya and Tanzania, known for some of the best wildlife encounters.
Home and away
At Art of Safari, we’re often asked about tipping on safari. That’s perhaps understandable, given that there are multiple angles to consider, from the attitude to tipping in the guest’s own culture to concerns over relative wealth and cultural stances on money in different parts of Africa.
Tipping is standard practice in most western countries. However, it’s not universal. In North America, for example, tipping is much more commonplace than in Europe. Then there’s the question of whom to tip. Say, why do we tip bartenders but not baristas?
In countries where tipping is widespread, expectations may be created. This can lead to resentment on both sides of the equation where a tip is expected but not given, or if the customer feels that it’s not deserved. Many people would consider that a person who’s simply doing the job they’re being paid for – or ‘going through the motions’ – does not deserve a tip.
Tipping on safari
So how does this translate to tipping in Africa? On a typical African safari, a guest will receive many kinds of service, from having their bags carried to being flown to a remote airstrip, or having a gin and tonic prepared in the bush. Which of these merits a tip, and why tip at all if you’ve paid for the privilege?
As anywhere, tipping on safari should be considered discretionary. Tipping is a form of gratitude for exceptional service, and/or recognition of the level of skill that a person (e.g. a guide) has shown, and the years of training that it’s taken them to acquire their expertise.
Tipping is also a way of giving back, and a recognition of the challenges of lodge life (for the staff that is; staying in a safari lodge is no hardship for a guest). Lodge staff often spend several weeks or months at a time away from home, and may well be supporting more than one generation as the sole breadwinner in their extended family.