The rule-of-thumb is simple: tip if you feel your guide went out of his or her way to provide you with a level of service which exceeded expectations.
In all cases, please remember that the figures indicated below are recommendations only and should only be used a guideline.
Minimum level of service?
Employees and service providers of African Express Tours & Safaris is chosen on their service delivery standards but, we do not enforce a minimum service standard and we certainly do not monitor their every movement. The ultimate determining factor is and always will be the valuable feedback we receive from our guests. If a guide is not performing to standard, it will reflect as such in the feedback we receive and we simply will not be making use of that service provider any longer. The result of this simple but stringent policy is evident: all of our business partners, without question, will go beyond your expectations. We therefore recommend gratuities in accordance with your level of enjoyment. If that equates to $100 per day as you see it and you feel that your guide deserves it, then so be it. If, however, your budget only allows for a gratuity of $20 per day, then that will be in order too. Our service providers will not pressure you in any way for a tip.
Rangers and trackers: Rangers and trackers are typically employed by the lodge in question and are therefore not the responsibility of African Express Tours & Safaris. Since privately owned lodges have exceptionally high standards, their staff is expected to perform to this degree. Although they are a regular occurrence, no one can guarantee Big Five sightings, but very few safaris depart without sighting the full complement. This should, therefore, not be the only determining factor when tipping guides and rangers. Again, the amount you tip is at your discretion and based on your level of enjoyment, but we do not recommend a per person tip of more than $10 per day if you are traveling as a couple, and a maximum of $120 per day if you are part of a group of 8 or more. These amounts might seem low, but remember that your safari might extend over two or three days, and there will likely be other guests on the same safari vehicle who will also be tipping the ranger and tracker.
Who do I tip? Who shouldn’t I tip?
In South Africa, it would not be out of place to tip the following people: tour/safari guides, rangers/trackers; waiters in public restaurants; waiters at lodge dining rooms (if the service is very good); porters at hotels; car guards (people who ‘watch’ your car whilst you are away from it), but only if there is a genuine need for their service.
In South Africa, we do not typically tip the following people: check-out staff in supermarkets; waiters in restaurants/lodges who provide a minimum standard of service; taxi drivers; car guards if in a place where it is obvious that your vehicle will not be tampered with without going unnoticed; reception staff at hotels/lodges; over-the-counter staff in any regular business establishment; transfer drivers; housekeeping staff.
Porter – $2/R15, Waiter – typically 10% of the total bill (make sure a gratuity has not been included in the total cost before doing so), Car Guard – R15 maximum. In many cases, as a visitor to South Africa, there will be a strong inference, if not a direct request, for a tip, often grossly inflated. In all cases, the above recommendations apply and we recommended a certain level of assertiveness be applied in this regard.
This is only some guidelines and you are more than welcome to ask questions in this regard.