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Tipping in South Africa

Hobbert Jul 3, 2013 05:49 AM

I have a horror of not tipping appropriately and just want to make sure I've got the right idea. My friend and I will be in Cape Town, South Africa for several days this fall and then on an all inclusive safari near Kruger. The guidebooks I have seem to indicate 10-15% is the usual tip in restaurants. Any exceptions to this? As for the safari, I've never been to any sort of all inclusive (not really my sort of thing usually)... do I tip anyone? I believe alcohol is not included. Do we tip on that? Thanks for the help!

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  1. pinehurst Jul 11, 2013 11:12 AM

    My aunt and uncle (now deceased--from natural causes, not the safari!) traveled to South Africa for an all-inclusive safari package similar to yours 5 yrs ago and did indeed tip (drivers/guides/bartenders). Can't say about restaurants, but others will weigh in.

    2 Replies
    1. re: pinehurst
      Hobbert Jul 11, 2013 11:44 AM

      Thanks! Do you happen to know how much they tipped? The all-inclusive thing is new to me.

      1. re: Hobbert
        pinehurst Jul 11, 2013 11:48 AM

        That I don't. I do know that my uncle lamented that he didn't bring plenty of 2's, 5's and 10's.

    2. t
      thatchick Jul 22, 2013 05:33 AM

      That's right. 10 % is standard, although I'm sure more is always appreciated. More than 15 would be unusual.

      1. c
        Caroline B Jul 22, 2013 11:39 AM

        10-15% in restaurants although check they are not already adding service which is a new but growing practice.

        Rand tips are more appreciated as changing dollars is very expensive and difficult especially for the safari staff. I usually tip the room maids about R50.00 and the guides about R300-500 depending on the days there and the going the extra mile to ensure you see everything. Bar and waiting staff are normally covered by a general gratuity that can me given the the front of house staff. the staffing on the lodges is huge and pooled tips are fair to all the background staff.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Caroline B
          Hobbert Jul 22, 2013 12:49 PM

          Thanks for this. I had wondered about tipping in rand vs. dollars. So, I don't need to tip on each meal at the safari? I had wondered how that would work if didn't get a bill. Thanks again!

          1. re: Hobbert
            erica Aug 6, 2013 04:51 AM

            At the game lodges, many people leave tips when they depart. Rangers, trackers, wait staff, etc. You do not tip at each meal.

            1. re: erica
              Hobbert Aug 6, 2013 05:05 AM


        2. y
          yasminza Aug 18, 2013 12:15 AM

          On a guided tour you should give about 15%. It's expected.

          However, if you're just out and about in South Africa on your own, 10% is pretty much the maximum tip you should give.

          Parking lot attendants are R2-R5, and if you don't have a coin on you just tell them that. Don't give a note in a parking lot, as it's not safe most of the time, especially if you are a foreigner.

          As far as tips for hotel cleaning staff goes, we usually tip on the first or the last day, but not every single day unless 1) we're unusually messy or 2) the service is amazing. Watch out for employees "charging" you for complimentary items as well, such as charging you R12 for a complementary toothbrush. This happens a LOT, and you'll know it's happened to you if you go and check out of your room and there's no listed charge for the item you paid for in cash.

          OH and DON'T call people "maids" down here. It's viewed as derogatory. "Helper" and "worker" are the preferred terms.

          1 Reply
          1. re: yasminza
            Hobbert Aug 18, 2013 02:00 AM

            Thanks for weighing in. When you say to tip 15% on a guided tour, are you referring to the entire all inclusive safari? We just have an overall price for that not an itemized list of costs.

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