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Tipping Guidelines: Tipping is discretionary but appreciated in East Africa. Common currencies like USD, Euros, British Pounds, Australian and NZ Dollars are accepted. Ensure the notes are in good condition for exchange.

Who to Tip: Don’t forget to tip the lodge staff, housekeepers, security guards, chefs, and kitchen porters at lodges. Staff tip boxes are available for collective tips. Suggested amounts include $20 per day for rangers/guides/trackers, $5 per transfer, $15 per day for lodge staff, and $1 per bag for porters.

Currency and Exchange: Bring cash in your own currency, preferably USD. Exchange a portion for local currency at a Bureau De Change for small expenses like drinks or souvenirs. ATMs are available but may have high transaction fees. Keep a mix of denominations for easier tipping.

Souvenirs and Bargaining: Be prepared to negotiate prices with local vendors, such as the Masai. Your guide can advise on appropriate prices. Small differences can be significant for the seller.

Card Usage and ATMs: Inform your bank of your travel plans to avoid card issues. Lodges usually accept cards, but confirm WiFi and card functionality upon arrival. ATMs are available, but your guide can advise on reliable ones.

Donations and Giving: Engage with locals but avoid giving money or items directly. Instead, inquire about local projects or charities to support.

Overall Advice: Carry a mix of cash and cards, and consult with your guide for local advice. Enjoy your travels and feel free to ask questions for further guidance.

Video Transcript

Hello and welcome to Brilliant Africa's Guide to Money and Tipping. My name is Aly. I've lived and worked in East Africa for over 10 years. Hopefully, my experience organizing safaris there will help with this guide!

 So let's make a start. We are going to be looking at these topics here up on the left-hand side. Let's make a start with tipping. Tipping is at your own discretion, as in anywhere in the world. The person you are giving the tip to will appreciate whatever currency you have with you.

USD, Euros, British Pounds, Australian Dollars, and Kiwi Dollars will be accepted. You can exchange them at the Bureau De Change. Make sure the notes are in good condition, with no rips, pen marks, or any other markings or they will not be accepted by the Bureau De Change. Also when you come to tipping think about all the people you can't see. So think about your housekeepers, your askaris, your chefs, your kitchen porters. At the lodges, you'll often find staff tip boxes. It's a nice way to do it. At the end of your trip, put a bulk amount into the staff tip box. Tip what you can and try to tip generously. It really does make a difference.

A lot of people depend on tips to make up for their wages. They are paid very well, but we all know that an extra tip can make someone's day. Keep that in mind. This is a general idea of what to expect, so make a note of that.

  • Ranger/Guide/Tracker $20 per couple per day
  • Transfers $5 per person per transfer
  • Lodge Staff $15 per couple per day
  • Porter $1 per bag

I would suggest bringing your own currency in cash. If you can, bring some USD, this is the preferred foreign currency. However British Pounds and Euros are also accepted.

You will then be able to change a small part of this at Bureau De Change's. The Bureau De Change's in East Africa only accept cash transactions. You can't pay with your card and get the local currency. It has to be done on the basis of exchanging notes for the local currency. Ask your guide when you arrive. He will also suggest perhaps how much to change. A rough guide: I probably gave $30-$50.

This covers things like drinks if you stop in a town or village. You can use local currency for souvenirs too. If you have leftovers, use them for tipping.

ATMs can be found in towns that will distribute local currency. You sometimes will be able to find the odd USD ATM's at airports. I wouldn't count on these always working as they get very popular.

Have a mixture of different denominations of USD or your own currency. So that you'll be able to divvy up when handing out your tips as you are on your safari.

There will be opportunities in to buy souvenirs along the way. The Masai in both Tanzania and Kenya are very persistent when negotiating the price. Ask your guide for their advice. If there's something you particularly want, ask him or her what they think you should pay. You can have a rough guide, but don't squibble over anything. The odd 50 cents or dollar will make a difference to the other person.

Credit and Debit Card. Let your bank know where you're travelling. You don't want your cards to stop working. You could have trouble reaching them. So, give them a call or message them on your banking app before you head off to East Africa.

There are ATMs like anywhere in the world. You will most likely get charged transaction fees. These can be a little bit higher due to the exchange rates.

In regards to ATM's your guide will tell you which ones are the best and legitimate.

Lodges you go to will normally accept card payments. Just check when you arrive. Also, check with your guide or driver to make sure it's okay. This way, you can know for sure. Then, you can perhaps have a few extra glasses of whisky, an extra diet coke, or maybe go for the full spa treatment.

Confirm with your guide or the lodge staff that the WiFi is working and card payments are being accepted. Sometimes it is a bit hit-and-miss, which can make things tricky. This is why it is always handy to carry a bit of cash. Then if it runs fine, you can enjoy your stay at the lodges and pay for anything else with your credit or debit cards.

Donations. People know that tourists are coming to this area and may ask for money. Some children may ask for pens, pencils, and sweets. I would engage in conversation, and say hello, but not give money. Steer clear of giving anything away. It can become a little overwhelming. You can ask your guide and the people at the lodges if there's a wonderful project nearby. Then, ask your friends back home to get involved. Do what you can to help them.

I hope this information has helped. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I will be happy to help and direct you. Look out for more information on the website. Thank you for listening and watching.

Safari njema and enjoy your travels to East Africa!

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