For many people travelling to Africa, tipping can be somewhat confusing. We have created a tipping guide that will alleviate the confusion every time you reach for your wallet. Tipping is commonplace in Africa, and people working in the service industry often rely heavily upon tips to make ends meet. Often they earn either minimum wage, or no wages at all, making tips a big part of their monthly income.

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.

The below guide will show you who to tip and how much.

1: Restaurants

It is standard practice in South Africa to tip your waiter or waitress 10% to 15% of the total bill. Most waiters and waitresses earn a minimum wage, but they do rely heavily on their tips to make a living. Some restaurants will automatically add a standard service charge of 10% to big groups, but check this with the manager or scrutinize your bill. If a standard service charge is levied, it is up to the patron to decide whether or not to agree to this tip, depending on the service.

2: Bars

Barmen and women also rely heavily upon tips. Tipping them works the same as with restaurants, where 10% to 15% is of the total bill is acceptable.

3: Safari

Rangers and trackers more often than not play a big role in making your safari special and memorable. The trackers help find animals such as the Big 5, and it becomes apparent how useful their tracking skills are during a safari. Rangers don’t just keep you safe, but also share valuable and entertaining information with you. Tipping is not compulsory, but if you feel that the ranger did a good job, then it is recommended that you tip R200 to R400 per family (or couple) per day. Tips for trackers are usually R100 to R200 per family (or couple) per day. You also do not need to pay them daily and can make the payment more discreetly at the end of your stay at the lodge.

Most lodges have tipping advice and guidelines, so do feel free to ask them more about this.

4: Airport Porters

It is standard practice tip airport porters R3 to R5  per piece of luggage.

5: Petrol (Gas) Station Attendants

Africa still offers the luxury (and much needed employment) of petrol attendants. These petrol attendants fill up your vehicle, take the payment, and will clean your windscreen, check the oil, water and tire pressure. Petrol attendants also function as Africa’s back- up GPS systems :).  If you get lost or the GPS is not working, you can always stop at your nearest petrol station to ask for directions. The average tip can be anything from R5 and up.

6: Car Guards

Travelers can expect to find car guards just about anywhere you park. These guards will offer to watch your car and help you park in exchange for a tip of R5 and up. Do be aware however that the guards must wear a reflective vest (usually bright yellow or orange) to indicate that they are in fact employed by the local authorities.

7: Health and Beauty services

The standard tipping fee for a massage and beauty therapist is 10% to 15% of your total fee. The same applies to hair stylists. Do however remember to leave a small tip for the person who washed your hair, usually R10 to R20.

8: Tour Guides and drivers

The standard practice in South Africa is to tip the tour guide and coach driver at the end of your tour. If you are doing a group tour, then we recommend tipping anything from R100 to R200 per person/couple per day. It goes without saying that you may tip more if you are very happy with the service.

If you are taking a private tour i.e. only one couple or a family, then we recommend you tip the driver (who will usually also be your guide) anything from R200 and up per day depending on the number of days. Guests are welcome to tip more if they feel that the driver/guide made their trip enjoyable.

9: Accommodation

Each establishment has their own in- house policy, and you should check with management. Most lodges have a communal tipping box at reception where you can leave a contribution. This will then be divided between the staff, including cleaners, waiters, porters, kitchen and garden staff and in some cases reception and management. If there is a specific staff member you would like to tip more, you are can either tip them personally, or leave it in a marked envelope at reception or with the concierge. If you wish to tip the porter directly, they would usually expect R10 to R20.

Below is a quick reference guide for when you are on the go (feel free to print it out and keep it in your wallet)

Who                                                                        How Much

Game Rangers R200 to R400 per family/couple/single per day
Trackers R100 to R200 per family/couple/single per day
Tour Guides (Group Tour) R100 and up per person per day in bigger group
Tour Guides (Private) R200 and up per couple/single/family per day
Waiters and Waitresses 10% to 15% of total bill
Barmen and bar women 10% to 15% of total bill
Accommodation Contribute any amount to tipping box at reception
Hotel porters R10 to R20
Airport porters R3 to R5 per piece of luggage
Petrol (Gas) Attendants R5 and up
Car Guards R2 and up
Massage/ Beauty Therapist 10% to 15% of total fee