When it comes to tipping on your African safari its not a one size fits all scenario. Depending on the country you are visiting, the company you are traveling with and your own personal preferences, the amount you tip your guide and staff can vary greatly.
Here we provide you with a complete guide on tipping in Kenya to help you prepare for your Kenya Safari.
Should You Tip in USD(Dollars) EUROS or Kenya Shillings?
This is entirely up to you. If you have US dollars cash on hand, it is perfectly acceptable to tip in dollars. However, if you would prefer to tip in Euros or Kenya Shillings, this is also perfectly fine and most safari guides will be happy to accept either currency.
Outside tourist areas such as hotels and restaurants that serve mostly locals for example if you go to a local restaurant then tip in Kenya shillings as most locals will have a difficult time finding places to exchange foreign currencies such as Euros or USD and forex bureaus and money changers will not take the same rate to exchange lower denomination notes such as 5s and 10s as they would $50 or $100 notes.
Kenya Safari Guides
In Kenya, tipping is generally expected and appreciated by safari guides and other staff members who provide services to tourists.
Even thought there is no set amount that you are required to tip, and it is ultimately up to you how much you want to give, it helps to put certain factors into consideration.
- The level of service you are paying for.
If you are on a luxury safari and a luxury Kenya safari can easily exceed $5,000 per person for your trip, then you may not need to tip a little more as compared someone who is on a lower budget tour.
For drivers and safari guides who work for mid-range and lower budget tour companies, they largely depend on tips to supplement their income so a little extra goes a long way.
Between $10-$20 per person, per day is considered a good tip for your driver/guide.
Of course, you are free to give more or less depending on your budget and the level of service you received.
- The company you are traveling with.
Some companies automatically include a gratuity fee in their safari prices, so it is always best to check with your tour operator beforehand.
- The number of people in your group.
If you are traveling solo or with just a few people, you may want to tip more generously than if you were part of a large group.
A vehicle of six persons could tip $60-$120 per day which can be divided among the driver and the guide.
- Your own personal preferences.
Some travelers prefer to give a larger tip at the end of their safari as a way of showing their appreciation for the experience, while others like to spread out their tips throughout the trip.
Nairobi, Mombasa, Lamu, Malindi & Kisumu
These major Kenyan towns are also tourist destinations in their own right and have a more international feel to them. Here you will find plenty of places that accept foreign currencies such as Euros and US dollars, so if you have cash to spare it is perfectly fine to tip in either of these currencies.
Masai Mara, Amboseli, Tsavo, Samburu and Other Parks
Kenya’s parks and national reserves have lodges and camps with restaurants and bars. In these areas, it is fine to tip in USD or Euros and even Kenyan shillings as most of the staff have lots of interactions with tourists and will not have difficulty finding places to exchange foreign currencies.
Maasai Village Visit
When visiting a Maasai village as part of your safari, it is perfectly acceptable to leave a tip.
A good rule of thumb is to leave around $5 -$ 10 per person but you can see how it could easily get expensive so only do this as an appreciation of something for example if a family invites you into their home to see how they live.
Usually, at the end of your tour, you will be taken to their “market” where the ladies often sell items like jewelry, belts, and scarves.
Much better to spend your money here than to give any cash directly.
Your guide will usually get a commission from anything you buy here so if you are happy with the service he has provided it is a nice way to show your appreciation.
Tips at Hotels, Bars & Restaurants
In addition to tipping your safari guides and staff, you may also want to leave a gratuity for hotel staff, bartenders and waiters/waitresses at restaurants.
A good rule of thumb is to leave 10-15% of your bill as a tip, although this amount can vary depending on the level of service you received.
For example, if you had exceptional service at a restaurant, you may want to leave a larger tip of 20% or more.
On the other hand, if you felt that the service was poor, you may want to leave a smaller tip or none at all as tips are expected but not mandatory.
Staff At The Hotel Lobby
Bellhops & Housekeeping
If you are staying at a hotel during your Kenya Safari, you may also want to leave tips for staff members who provide services at the hotel.
For bellhops who help carry your luggage to your room, a good rule of thumb is to tip $2 -$5 for the service.
For housekeeping, you can leave a tip of $2 – $4 per day depending on the level of service you received.
You can leave the tip in cash in an envelope with a note of thanks or you can add it to your bill when you check out of the hotel.
What about credit cards?
While most places in the major towns, cities and tourist areas in Kenya accept credit cards, this is not always the case in more remote areas.
Always ask beforehand if the hotel or restaurant takes credit cards.
It is always best to have some cash on hand when you are traveling in case you need to tip or pay for any unexpected expenses.
Whereas you will be able to pay your bills using credit cards do not tip using credit cards as is common practice in other countries to write the amount you wish to tip on your receipt, then sign the receipt to confirm the total amount (tip + bill) to be charged to your card, this is not common practice in Kenya and the chances that the waitress or bartender will receive it is next to nothing.
Tip on currency conversion
If you are looking to change your US dollars or Euros to local Kenyan currency you will always get better deals at forex bureaus than banks or ATM machines.
The same goes for when you are looking to change your Kenyan shillings back into foreign currency, it is always best to do this at a bureau de change.
Finally you are better off paying all your tips in the local Kenyan currency if you are looking to save.
This is because the dollar and Euro are stronger than the local currency and so when you pay in local currency generally you will be paying less.
Case in point at the time of writing this article $2 = Ksh 236
If you are tipping its easier to round that off to a Ksh 200 tip which will be just fine.
Tipping on your Kenyan safari is not mandatory but it is always appreciated by safari guides and other staff members who provide services to tourists. A good rule of thumb is to base your tips on the quality of service you received and work within your budget. If your guide went above and beyond to make sure you had a great safari experience, you may want to leave a larger tip.