In conclusion, in Zambia we would suggest that you tip the guide separately to the back of house team, as you spend the majority of your time with them. It would be uncommon to tip your camp manager.
When to tipOccasionally we get asked when is the right time to give the tips. There are a few options:
After each activity
At the end of each day
At the end of your stay
General rule of thumb: just tip once, always at the end of your stay at each safari camp or lodge. Not at the end of each activity, or each day.
Guides wouldn't expect you to tip after each of the daily activities, as it could create the impression that the guides need to 'perform' for the person giving the tips, which can distort the relationship between them and the other guests. Imagine the position other guests might find themselves in should you be offering tips this frequently and they were not.
How to tipIn general, Zambian camps will have a main 'tip box' that is shared out between the staff equally. Some camps will exclude the guides and spotters from this, others won't.
The majority of the camps will explain their own tipping policy in their camp literature, but managers will be able to explain if this isn't the case. It's then up to you as to how you'd like to split your tips between the different members of the team - in Zambia you'd usually tip the guides and scouts directly, then the other staff split the 'tip box'. The practice does vary between camps, so please ask if you're not sure!
We do get asked if it's possible to tip by credit card. This is not normal practice, and many safari camps in Zambia won't be able to process this, so we would recommend that you take cash for tipping. You'll find that this is most common anyway, with the preferred currency being US dollars, easily exchanged into Zambian kwacha by camp staff if necessary.
If you want to be incredibly well prepared for your trip then a great idea is to bring envelopes, possibly with thank you notes, to prepare individual tips for the staff. Towards the end of your trip you can name each envelope, add the appropriate tips and then either put them into the main tip box or hand them to the individuals.
How much to tipWe can only offer our own advice on this from our experiences in Zambia. Tipping is not compulsory but always appreciated and depends entirely on your own opinion and your personal satisfaction, moderated by the topics mentioned above.
Having said that, we'd recommend that for good service our travellers tip around:
- US$5-10 per guest per day for a group guide
- US$5-10 per guest per day for the general staff
- US$5-10 per guest per day for a scout Bearing in mind the issues above, the Gross National Income (GNI) is approximately US$3.53 per person per day in Zambia. This is a reflection of the average income of Zambia's citizens.
In contrast, the equivalent GNI in the UK is about US$118.74, in the United States about US$150.58, in New Zealand about US$109.80 and in Germany about US$125.45.
In conclusion, although tipping is a sensitive issue, it's a normal part of Zambia's service industry so there's no need to be embarrassed by it. Remember that more affluent visitors can potentially have a large impact on the local community: tipping can influence the social and economic balance, so do bear that in mind when you're tipping staff during your safari in Zambia.
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