Tipping in Tanzania should always depend on the quality of service received, and it is your choice whether or not to tip. Of course we encourage our travellers to appreciate good service, but we also try to make them aware of the impact of tipping on the local community.
For those working in the service industry in Tanzania, including waiters, guides and trackers, tips can form a significant part of their income. However, there is a fine balance between tipping enough, and tipping too much. You may not think that tipping too much could cause problems, but excessive tips can throw out the balance of the local economy.
To understand this better, consider the work of a senior park ranger. To achieve this status requires a high level of education and knowledge, as well as several years’ experience in different national parks. If done properly, this is a very important role, and a fair wage is paid for the job, but government-employed rangers aren’t usually top earners. Yet both the parks and their visitors benefit if educated and competent people are appointed to this kind of post.
Conversely, a safari camp assistant, who helps out generally and perhaps carries bags for guests, is also very necessary. Yet s/he doesn’t need to be so educated, or to have as much experience as a ranger, and s/he certainly won’t have the same level of responsibility or the same salary. So consider the effect if such a worker gets massive tips – totalling, say, US$500 a month. If that happens, there’s a very real possibility that s/he will end up earning more than the park’s ranger.
In this case, the local balance of responsibility and remuneration is distorted by the tips – which are too high. If this happened too often, it would remove the incentive for a ranger to work harder and take on more responsibility – and could well see park rangers giving up their jobs to become camp assistants, to the detriment of the park and its visitors.
So before you tip, do try to bear in mind the importance and extent of the work someone is doing for you, and remember to keep your tips proportionate.
When to tip
Best practice is always to tip just once, and always at the end of your stay at each safari lodge or camp.
Your guides won’t expect you to tip after each activity, and doing so could put pressure on them to ‘perform’ for the guest who is tipping – while probably distorting the relationship between him/her and the guests as a whole. It would certainly put your fellow guests in a very difficult position if you were offering tips this frequently, and they were not.
How to tip
The most common way how to tip in Tanzania is to use the ‘tip box’ that most camps offer. However, sometimes the box will be for all the staff, and sometimes for the staff excluding the guides; each camp has its own policy.
Some camps explain their policy in writing and leave it in their rooms. If not, ask the manager if there’s a tip box and, if so, who shares the proceeds. Then it’s up to you whether to put everything into the box, or to tip some team members individually. In most Tanzanian camps, guides, trackers and butlers are usually tipped direct, while other staff benefit from the ‘general staff tip box’. But this varies, so do ask!
It’s most common to tip in cash, ideally Tanzanian shillings or US dollars. Although some camps offer the option to tip by credit card, this depends on their accounting practices and their ability to process cards. Tipping by card isn’t the norm in Tanzania, and it can make it difficult to direct your tips to specific members of staff.
For travellers willing to think ahead, it can work well to bring a small supply of envelopes, perhaps with a card inside on which a ‘thank you’ could be written. Then towards the end of your stay, you can address the envelopes for the individuals or groups of staff whom you wish to tip, put the appropriate amount into each, and either hand them out or put them into the general tip box.
How much to tip on Safari
The amounts we suggest here are just guidelines based on our experience of safaris in Tanzania. Tipping is a matter of personal opinion and individual satisfaction – moderated by some understanding of the issues mentioned above.
Given that, we’d recommend that for good service, our travellers tip around:
- US$8–10 per guest per day for a group guide
- US$15–20 per guest per day for a private guide
- US$5–10 per guest per day for a safari chef
- US$1–2 per guest per day for the general staff
- US$3–5 per city transfer
Tipping while trekking Kilimanjaro
Before climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, most climbers often start worrying about the porter and guide’s tip before the climb starts. They want to know how much it will affect their budget, and to make sure they are paying a good tip. Kilimanjaro Heroes philosophy is just like service in a restaurant, a climbing tip should only be given if you received good service from us. A typical porter on an seven day climb should receive around a $40 tip; a cook could receive about $80; and a head guide could receive $100 or more. These tips are divided by the total number of people in the group, not per person.
A general estimate, for your budget, per Kilimanjaro climber runs from about $175 to $250 per person depending upon the following factors: the number of people in your group, the number of the porters, number of guides, cooks and sometimes the route. It’s impossible to predict an exact tip in advance because it really depends upon how much gear is brought up the mountain and how much weight is brought up the mountain. There is no a de facto standard of tipping for all companies, it’s only a recommendations from organizations, NGOs and the Tanzanian government. Some higher-end companies have seen tips in excess of these recommendations. Some budget companies have seen tips lower than this.
A couple things to remember when tipping Kilimanjaro porters:
- Tip directly to the porters, not the guides.
- Bring a packet of letter size envelopes to distribute the tip
- Determine a tip for each component of your climbing group: the porters, cooks, assistant guides, and the lead guide.
- Distribute it on the final morning of the descent usually at Mweka Camp or the Park Gate
- Tip in either Tanzanian Shillings or US Dollars
- The average Tanzanian makes $40 per month. A $40 tip for difficult work for many days is a great wage and supports the local economy.
- Generally speaking, an example of a tips break down like this:
- Porters $5 per day per porter
- Cooks $8 to $10 per cook
- Assistant Guides $8 to $10 per guide
- Kilimanjaro Guides $20 per day per guide
- Safari Guides $20 per day and up per guide
In other words, if you had four porters, 2 assistant guides and 1 lead guide.
- The total trip would be around $420.
- 4 porters X $40 = $160 Totalp
- 2 assistant guides X $80 = $160.
- 1 lead guide X $100 = $100
- Total = $420 / Number of people in the group
Please Note: Tip amounts listed for Kilimanjaro and safari are per group, not per individual traveler. For instance, if four people are on safari, they should each contribute $5/day if they want to tip the driver.