Tipping in many parts of the world is a normal part of life, almost like a service charge, but unfortunately many people working in the travel industry are paid very low wages and rely heavily on tips. Many of them do not receive regular employment either, so tips have become the alternative to both a salary and also a supplement to a very irregular income.
This situation does not apply to Adventure Alternative staff who are paid above the industry rates; tips are more of a bonus which can be shared among the entire team of local staff who are with you on your trip. Unfortunately, paying a good salary does not in any way reduce the expectation of a tip! In fact in some cases the higher the salary, the higher the expected tip. Porters don’t see it as obligatory or voluntary, they see it as simply a part of their pay and if they don’t get anything then obviously they will be sad. Please do note that we provide annual increments in salary which are linked to local living costs and we do give end-of-year bonuses to the main staff.
Enjoying lunch at camp with the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in the background.
However, tipping is essentially down to you, and you should tip according to the service you receive and this should be paid in local currency where possible. Clearly, there has to be some advice to assist the visitor in how much to give, but if there is a problem then you should exercise your right to refuse a tip and this will send a strong message to the staff and may help us promote a good work ethic.
How Much is Appropriate?
It is extremely difficult to give blanket guidance but the following is a rough guide to the amount of money that you may consider giving as a tip to the staff team on an Adventure Alternative expedition.
Mount Kilimanjaro - US$120 or £80
Mount Meru - US$75 or £50
Mount Kenya - US$75 or £50
Safari - $20 or £12.5/day
Nepal Trek - $5/day or £3.25/day
Nepal Climb - $10/day or £6.50/day
Everest summit - $600.00
Morocco Trek/Climb - $6.5/day or £4/day (~50 MAD/day)
The differences in tip estimates are based on the local cost of living, the general local expectation of wage to tip ratio and also the normal amount of staff that are usually on each trip. So for example, there will be at least double the number of porters/guides/cooks on Kilimanjaro in comparison to Mt Kenya and you generally spend at least two more days on Kilimanjaro compared to Mt Kenya.
Tips are expected at high-end luxury hotels and lodges and moderately priced safari lodges but they are not expected at restaurants and hotels frequented by locals. Most tourist lodges and hotels will have tip boxes at the reception desk and you can tip hotel staff individually, place a tip for all hotel staff in the tip box, or do both. For information on tipping in a particular country, be sure to check out the specific Country Information pages on where you will be travelling.
A group of climbers and guides stop for a group photo in Nepal.
Safari Tipping Advice
If you arrange a walking safari in one of the Parks or Reserves with a Park Ranger then you must give this person a tip, recommended tips vary from Park to Park so check with your driver/guide; they will know what an acceptable amount to give is.
When you give tips we recommend that the money is collected as a team and given to the trip leader as a total to be then distributed to the staff team members in an open 'ceremony' where all of the staff members and team members are present and can also show their appreciation in person rather than purely in monetary terms.
Individual Tipping Advice
Please do not indulge in individual tip giving to specific members of staff, even if that person has gone beyond the ‘call of duty’ for you. It does cause enormous problems after you have left, with arguments and jealousy. A far better alternative is that you tell our staff about it, and recommend that person to receive a company bonus (which we will pay) or a gift, which could be a new jacket or pair of boots. Don’t forget that we are trying to promote a career path for our staff, giving them training and development and incentives just like we get at work ourselves. So please help us do our job well, and provide feedback on our staff which will help everyone to improve and keep a sense of enthusiasm for the job.
With all of this, we would encourage you to talk about this openly with your trip leader so that it doesn't become a confused or taboo subject.