Safari driver-guides earn reasonable salaries by Kenyan standards, but tips from clients still make up a proportion of their income, sometimes accounting for a large part of their earnings. How to tip, and how much to give, not just to driver-guides but to other safari camp staff and people working in the tourism industry in general, can feel like a social etiquette minefield.
Since tips are discretionary, and supposed to be supplementary income, not someone’s main source of income, our view at Expert Africa is that ideally you should feel comfortable giving whatever you like in whatever manner you prefer: we would rather see staff salaries higher, and tips lower, transferring slightly more of the onus to camp owners.
There is, however, a relatively established tipping culture in the safari industry in Kenya and we hope the following notes of guidance help if you’re simply hoping to do the right thing and not offend anyone.
Tipping while on safari: we suggest you budget on tipping about US$20 or Ksh2,000 per room or tent per day, always at the end of your stay in the lodge or camp. If you’re a solo traveller, you could certainly tip less – Ksh1000 would often be fine. If you’re a family sharing one room or tent, you might want to increase the figure, while if you have children or teens in a separate tent, you wouldn't necessarily want to double it. Half of this daily sum should go to your driver/guide and half to the back-of-house camp or lodge team, by leaving it in the tip box or sometimes in an envelope given to the manager
Driver-guides are not included in the tip box share, which is why you tip them separately, and this is generally done when you say goodbye to them. Sometimes a spotter or trainee guide will also be part of your 'crew' at the front of the vehicle when out on game drives. Depending on their contribution, you might give them a separate tip, or suggest to the main driver-guide that he or she should share some of his/her tip with that person.
If you are at all unsure about any aspects of this protocol, it’s common and perfectly acceptable to have a quiet word with the manager at some point. The manager will be on a significantly higher salary than any of the staff so you don’t need to worry about tipping him or her.
A new way to create your safari. African travel is opening up to the world. Create your first trip here and let us know what you think. You can trust our insightful team of travel experts to design a first time safari that experience in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda….
Highly recommended! Joseph created a fantastic, customized tour for my family. He listened to our many criteria and put together a wonderful package. He was always available and very responsive. Since we were on a safari that utilized flights within Kenya, there was no opportunity to enjoy Joseph's company (as others have commented). However, he made it a point to come to the airport at the start of our adventure and make sure we were all set. This was a small gesture that epitomized his character (I don't think this would have happened with a large tour provider). March 2023
This was our first safari and such an unforgettable experience. Communication with Joseph, the tour operator, was quick and easy. The proposed itinerary he provided was informative and we were able to easily modify it before finalizing everything. We enjoyed all the places we stayed at and there was something unique about each one. The game drives were just wow (super sawa sawa!). The tour guides/drivers (John in Kenya and Rajam in Tanzania) put in a lot of effort in finding the animals at the top of our list (leopard, rhino, calves, as well as a cheetah hunt and the most awesome selfie with an elephant). Each game drive was unique. There were so many encounters that left us awestruck—we’re still ooh ahhh-ing over our pictures and processing everything we experienced. Joseph was with us for the whole trip; he was quite knowledgeable about birds, which was a bonus. He also assisted with logistics (providing documents quickly for visas needed prior to arrival, getting us through border crossings, and arranging dinner reservations at a restaurant we wanted to go to prior to taking us to the airport). This was one of the best experiences we’ve ever had and we have White Plains Safaris to thank for that. They are reliable, prompt, friendly, and well worth the money. February 2023
Our experience with White Plains Safaris and Joseph was amazing! The service was impeccable since the very beginning: during the reservation process, Joseph was extremely helpful, flexible and very honest. After booking, he supported us in any way he could, including paying for our Visas as we had some issues doing that online by ourselves! He was also very helpful in creating the itinerary, which proved to be amazing as it offered great game drives and diversity of landscape. Things kept being perfect throughout our trip; the accommodations he had reserved were very nice and always positioned perfectly, to avoid extra driving. During the game drives he was very accommodating and always asking for our feedback to make sure we had the best time. He brought us in amazing spots thanks to his unstoppable Land Cruiser and we got to see many animals including 3 leopards from very close! We also enjoyed his company very much and he was always able to answer our questions and providing interesting insights on the animals, the parks and Kenya in general. We always felt safe and well taken care of, so I would (and will) strongly recommend Joseph and White Plains to anyone looking for a good time in Kenya and Tanzania. January 2023
White Plains Safari provided me with an incredible experience, they were really easy people to get to know and it felt like I had made another friend at the end of my trip. Their service was excellent, they were really outgoing and did their ultimate best to show us everything they could, even if it meant going out of their way in order to do so, they were very reliable and I personally had no concerns regarding their reliability. In terms of the tour itself, I would one hundred percent recommend my trip to Kenya to anyone, especially with White Plains Safaris. White Plains Safaris helped make my trip an experience I will never forget. May 2022