We wrote these notes to cover what a lot of people ask us on the topic of tipping, it is merely a guideline and totally at your discretion. The custom of tipping is not meant to cause headache or distress but tips are a part of the way things happen in Botswana.
Who to tip when on safari in Botswana
Before thinking about the amount or how to tip, think about who to tip. Many people work to make your travel a success. Consider:
Your safari guide will be one of the most important people in making your safari a success. With this in mind, we suggest tipping him/her separately, to ensure that they get the tip they deserve.
Tipping the back of house team
There are many staff behind the scenes, or in the 'back of house' like the kitchen team, the maids and the housekeeping staff, to tip them most camps have a ‘general staff tip box’ – the proceeds of which are divided equally between the staff.
Tipping the managers
It would be unusual and certainly not expected to tip a manager unless they had really gone out of their way to help you specifically.
When to tip
You may ask yourself when you should tip, is it after each activity, at the end of each day or at the end of your stay?
The answer is to tip only once, and always at the end of your stay at each safari lodge or camp. No-one expects a tip immediately after an activity or drive so hold back until the end of your stay at a destination.
How to tip
Most camps and safari lodges in Botswana have a ‘tip box’, and often their own tipping policy. Sometimes the ‘tip box’ will be for all the staff; sometimes it’ll be for the staff excluding the guides; occasionally it’ll be arranged differently.
Some camps explain their tipping policy in the literature left in their rooms. If not, ask the manager and, if there’s a tip box, find out who shares the proceeds of this. You can then decide whether to put everything into the box, or to tip some members of the team separately and more directly. In most Botswana camps, guides, trackers, mokoro polers and butlers are usually tipped directly; other staff are usually lumped together into the ‘general staff tip box’. But this varies, so do ask!
Travellers often ask if they can tip by credit card – and the answer depends on the camp, their accounting practices and their ability to process cards. However it is best to tip with cash, in USD or GBP or any Southern African currency.
Something which may help you is to bring a few small envelopes that you can put tips in with a Thank You written on it.
How much to tip
Bear in mind that all we can offer here is guidelines from our own travels and experience as guides ourselves – it depends on your personal opinion and your individual satisfaction.
Given that, we’d recommend that for good service, our travellers tip around:
US$10 per guest per day for a group guide
US$20 per guest per day for a private guide
US$5 per guest per day for mokoro polers, trackers or a butler
US$5 per guest per day for the general staff
Tipping is a sensitive issue, but there is no need to feel embarrassed. It’s a normal part of a service industry in Botswana, as it is in restaurants in many countries. Just remember that relatively affluent visitors can have a big impact on the local economy.