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Tipping in Africa

Tips on what and when to tip when traveling in Africa

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African Money - Africa Currencies

African Money - Africa Currencies

© Ben Daecher
Tips are an important thing to get right when traveling in Africa. For most porters, safari guides and drivers, tips make up a significant percentage of their salary. Over tipping is less of a problem than under tipping, especially given the economic stresses many working Africans are under to make ends meet, buy school uniforms, get decent medical care etc. Below you'll find some tipping guidelines to help you budget the right amount of money to bring on your trip.

General Tipping Tips
Small bills (either US $'s or local currency) are handy to keep a supply of when you travel. Making change is always difficult, especially in the more far flung destinations. For tips on best money to bring, credit cards to use and so on, see "Money Matters in Africa".

Always give the tip directly to the person you wish to reward for services. If you wish to tip housekeeping, don't hand your tip over to the front desk and expect it to get to the right person. Give cash rather than goods. The person on the receiving end can make up their own mind how best to use the money. Read more about gift giving in Africa to make sure you do so responsibly.

How Much to Tip for Meals and Drinks in Africa?
10% - 15% is a normal tip for good service at restaurants and in bars. Most waiters earn a basic living wage so tips are a welcome supplement and reward for good service. If you're just buying a beer or coke, it's fine to just leave the small change. If your party is 6 or more at a restaurant, the tip/service charge is frequently included in the check (bill). Look out for for "service charge" note at the bottom of the check.

House Keeping, Porters, Hotel Staff, Safari Guides and Drivers
At budget hotels, tips for housekeeping are not expected but welcome (I usually leave mine under my pillow before I check out). At many luxury safari camps there will be a general tipping box where your tips will be evenly spread among the camp staff. Here's a general guide to follow in USD (in South Africa use Rand to tip):

  • $1 per bag for porters
  • $1- $2 per day for hotel staff
  • $3 - $5 per day for personal butlers, trackers, drivers
  • $10 per day for professional guides and/or drivers who are with you throughout the trip
  • $5 - $10 per person for one day or half day guides (city tours, safari walks, rafting guides etc)
  • $1- $2 for transfer drivers (to and from airport and hotels)
  • 50 cents - $1 for gas station attendants

Porters, Guides and Cooks on Mountain Treks
If you're planning to climb Kilimanjaro or go on other mountain treks in Africa, your booking company should be able to advise the appropriate tipping amounts. For a quick budget estimate expect to spend 10% of the cost of your trek on tips. Or figure on:

  • $15 - $20 per day for a guide
  • $8 - $10 per day for a cook
  • $8 - $10 per day for a porter

Make sure you use a reputable company to book your treks so you don't endanger the staff or yourself, read more

Taxi Drivers
It's not all that common to tip taxi driver's other than the change from a fare. Stick with 10% of the fare if the driver had gone out of his way to help you, has stuck with the metered fare (if this is working), or if the trip is over 30 minutes.

Don't Tip...
Never tip children, even if they have helped you find your way. The minute you tip a child, the temptation (or even family pressure) for them to not attend school can become too appealing. If a child is obviously very poor and you wish to help in exchange for a kind act, buy the child a meal directly but do not give money.

If you experience an act of spontaneous kindness (and you most likely will many times) then ask your guide if it's appropriate to tip. If you don't have a guide to ask, an offer to buy lunch, or "help with school fees" or something of that nature, may be appropriate.

If the service has been bad, or if a tip is demanded and you feel you are being taken advantage of, you don't have to tip. Tipping is a reward for good service in Africa as it is everywhere else in the world.

Money Matters per African Destination

For an overview of every African country's currency, see -- Currencies in Africa. For in depth information on popular tourist destinations in Africa, click on the links below:

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