Tipping Guidelines in South Africa

Today I thought it would be helpful to give some tipping guidelines for South Africa Safaris & Holidays and the rest of Southern Africa. In recent years we have noticed some game lodges suggesting quite high tipping recommendations. When chatting with industry friends we feel that we shouldn’t leave it up to the game lodges to recommend tipping guidelines for their own staff!

So, without further ado…
•    A tip of 10 to 12% is normal in hotels, restaurants and for taxis, depending on the service.
•    In a hotel you might give a porter US$1-2 to carry a bag, more if there are several bags to be carried.
•    Chambermaids always appreciate a tip at the end of your stay – perhaps R10 per night
•    If you have a private tour guide during your stay, you may like to tip $10-15 (R100-R150) for a full day or $5 to $10 (R50-R100) for a half day

At South African Private Game Lodges
You may feel under pressure to tip generously here but this is entirely your choice, depending on how well your ranger and tracker have done their jobs. Typically your stay is co-ordinated by your ranger and so he is your main point of contact with the lodge. So often the lodges leave out three envelopes for tips: one for general staff, one for your ranger and one for your tracker.

The following is a loose guideline depending on how you feel…
$5 – $8 (R50-R75) per person per day for a ranger/guide ie R100 to R150 per couple
$2 – $3 (R25-R30) per person per day per tracker
$3 – $5 (R30-R50) per person per day to be shared among general camp staff.

At Southern African Game Lodges
At many Botswana or Zambia Game Lodges you may enjoy different activities with different guides. If this is the case, we recommend:
$3 – $4 per person per guide ie $6 to $8 per couple for each guide

Some safari operators feel that it is fairer and more beneficial in bush camps to give a general tip to the camp management to be shared out among the camp staff (not including the management) but this is your choice. A guideline would be US$5 – US$10 per person per day.

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Kate Bergh is co-founder of Cedarberg African Travel, a specialist tour operator for Southern and East Africa.

She heads up the South African office, having lived in South Africa since 1993. Her home looks up to the Cedarberg Mountains, where she enjoys hiking and cycling, when she’s not out discovering new places to visit, with her three children in tow. Kate has travelled extensively throughout the region to Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe as well as most areas of South Africa. She also loves history, meeting people and a good thriller...

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