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We address questions and considerations relating to giving gratuities in Africa.

What is the tipping culture in Africa?

What should we tip’ is one of the most frequently asked questions we get from our travelling guests. Like many conversations around money, this can cause moments of uncertainty or awkwardness.

Our aim is to make your holiday as seamless and comfortable as possible, and this includes giving guidance on tipping.

Tipping should be at your personal discretion and convenience. Gratuities are given in a spirit of gratitude and should be received with grace and not entitlement.

In the tourism industry in Southern and East Africa, tipping is customary, but not obligatory or mandatory. It is influenced by a variety of factors, including cultural norms, economic realities, and social dynamics. Understanding and respecting these nuances while traveling in Africa, allows for meaningful engagement with the local culture, fostering positive interactions and experiences for both travellers and locals.

We have created a tipping guideline below and if you require specific guidance for your particular holiday, our Luxury Travel Manager will create a bespoke gratuity plan accordingly.

Why give a gratuity?
  • Hospitality and Generosity: Tipping serves to express gratitude and appreciation for exceptional service over and above what you have already paid. When the people you meet go the extra mile to ensure a memorable stay, rewarding their outstanding efforts through tipping is encouraged.
  • Informality and Personal Connections: We believe one of the best things about travelling to Africa is the personal connections you will make. These connections are not made to receive tips, they are made to foster relationships and with the understanding of the importance of human connection.
  • Economic Disparities and Social Responsibility: Africa encompasses diverse economies, ranging from developed nations to those facing significant challenges. Tips play a crucial role in the earnings of individuals employed in service industries, such as porters, guides, and trackers.
Who should you tip?
  • Porters at airports
  • Once off transfer drivers to and from airports & restaurants etc.
  • Hotel general staff: Back of house & front of house
  • Lodge general staff. Housekeeper, butler, reception staff, lodge porters, local airstrip transfers, baby sitters
  • Safari guide
  • Safari Tracker (not all lodges have trackers)
  • Boat / mokoro safari guide
  • Tour guide in cities
  • Ranger, tracker and trekking porter on primate Treks
  • Restaurant waitron in city restaurants
  • When self-driving in South Africa, tip car-guards and petrol (gas) station attendants
  • Experience assistants like boat drivers, golf caddies, water based activities guides…
  • Spa therapist, hair salon stylists
  • VIP meet and greet airport handler who will assist you through passport control and baggage retrieval, at your discretion and if included in your trip.
How much should you tip?
  • There is no ‘written rule’ on amounts you should tip. Lodges and tour operators are giving suggestions based on custom and the observation of general behaviour.
  • Travellers often want to make sure they do the ‘right’ and may find the discrepancies on the various recommendations they see along the way frustrating.
  • The tipping amounts can vary based on your individual situation, location, level of satisfaction with the service received and the rapport established with the people you encounter on your trip.
  • Meals in city restaurants are the only place where a general range of between 10 and 15% of the total bill is advised.

Remember this is only a guideline and it entirely depends on the level of service and your desires.

South Africa & Namibia Tipping Guideline:


  • On Safari:
    Safari Guide: ZAR 220 per guest, per day
    Trackers: ZAR 150 per guest, per day
  • In the cities:
    Transfer Driver: ZAR 40 per guest, per transfer
    Local Private Guide: Half day:  ZAR 130 per guest
    Local Private Guide: Full day:  ZAR 160 per guest
    Hotel/Lodge Staff:  ZAR 200 per guest, per day
    Airport and Hotel Porterage:  ZAR 20 per guest
    Restaurants: 10% is customary
    Airport meet and greet handlers  ZAR 20 per handler

Botswana, East Africa, Mozambique, Zambia & Zimbabwe Tipping Guideline:


  • On Safari:
    Safari Guide:  USD 15-20 per guest, per day
    Trackers:  USD 10-15 per guest, per day
  • In the cities:
    Transfer Driver:  USD 4-5 per guest, per transfer
    Local Private Guide: Half day:  USD 10-15 per guest
    Local Private Guide: Full day:  USD 15-20 per guest
    Hotel/Safari Lodge Staff:  USD 10-15 per guest, per day
    Airport and Hotel Porterage:  USD 5 per guest
    Restaurants: 10% is customary
    Airport meet and greet handlers:  USD 10 per handler

  • On Safari:
    Safari Guide:  USD 15-20 per guest, per day
    Trackers:  USD 10-15 per guest, per day


  • On a Gorilla Trek:
    Rangers:  USD 20 per guest, per trek
    Trackers:  USD 10-20 per guest, per trek
    Trek Porters:  USD 10-20 per guest, per trek
  • In the cities:
    Specialty driver-guide:  USD 20 per guest, per day
    Hotel/Safari Lodge Staff:  USD 10-15 per guest, per day
    Airport and Hotel Porterage:  USD 5 per guest
    Airport transfer (if different from your driver-guide):  USD 5-10 per guest
    Restaurants: 10% is customary

When should you tip?

It is best to tip each person once, at the end of your stay at each lodge, camp or hotel or after the last tour / activity in a city.

You can follow a general rule of giving a gratuity when you are ‘saying goodbye’. For example, after a once-off activity or tour, at the end of the day when all tours are completed, at check-out as you depart the camp or lodge.

How should you tip?
  • Generally cash is preferred and in many instances there is not an alternative option. Restaurants and most lodge & hotel staff can accept gratuities on a credit card.
  • In your Travel Documentation arrival from Timeless Africa, we will provide you with gratuity envelopes, wherein you can place the tip and hand over for your hotel and lodge stays, as well as your guides, trackers etc. This is more comfortable than handing over ‘loose’ cash.
  • Most safari camps and lodges also provide envelopes.
  • It is best to divide your tip envelopes between general staff and individual ones for guides/trackers/rangers, should you want to reward a specific staff member for their excellent service.
Who you should not tip
  • Hotel and Lodge management. Of course, if the manager helped you with something outstanding or very extraordinary, you may want to make an exception to this rule.
  • Your Timeless Africa Safaris Travel Manager.
  • Immigration and Customs officers at borders.
  • Pilots, Cabin crew, Airport desk staff
  • Sales assistants in safari shops
  • Medical or evacuation crews
  • Lodge or tour owners
Additional considerations
  • We recommend carrying small denominations: Ranging from USD5, USD10, USD20 USD50s
  • Should you run out of cash, you can add your gratuity to your final bill on check-out at lodges and hotels and pay by credit card. Please note that there may be surcharges that lessen the final amount given to the staff member and the funds may take some time to be paid out to staff.
    We recommend writing a personal note to the person you want to tip, indicating that you have paid a tip on your bill meant for them, so that they know you appreciate their service.
  • Most Airports and cities have ATMs. It is important to always be vigilant when drawing cash, as you would be in any global city.
  • Typically South African Rand (ZAR) is preferred in South Africa, as changing foreign currency to Rand can be challenging for staff.  All currencies will be gratefully received, but the recipient may lose when converting them into their local currency.
  • We suggest that you do not significantly over-tip as this could create false expectations.
  • Arrange your tips beforehand and put the money in marked envelopes. Your Luxury Travel Manager will be able to assist with this. You can sort it according to days, or locations.
  • For gratuities in Cape Town, a bespoke tipping schedule may be drawn up, in consultation with your Luxury Travel Manager.  This amount can be added to your Travel Invoice. The amount will be reviewed at the end of your stay, and we will then pay over all gratuities on your behalf.  This avoids you having to carry around a lot of cash in Cape Town.
  • In larger parties, choose one family member to be in charge of the cash and gratuity disbursements.
  • For larger parties (5 and more): We do suggest for larger parties, amounts be capped, to ensure you do not over-tip. Tip per Room per night, rather than per person per night.
  • Children 12 and up are considered adults and should be included in your tip calculations. A lower gratuity amount may be paid on behalf of younger children, where you feel appropriate.

In this article
  • The tipping culture in Africa
  • Why give a gratuity?
  • Who should you tip?
  • How much should you tip?
  • When should you tip?
  • How should you tip?
  • Who you should not tip
  • Additional considerations

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