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 low wages and rely heavily on tips. Many of them do not receive regular employment either, especially in places where tourism is seasonal, so tips have become a supplement to an irregular income.
Adventure Alternative staff are paid 'industry rates' but more importantly we use the same staff for all our trips so they are guaranteed a regular flow of work.They also get clothing and equipment supplied by us, first aid training and guide training where necessary, plus perks like money for getting home. We also do not deduct any salary for food or accommodation, another common tactic by unscrupulous operators.
Tips are often difficult to split into a 'per person' figure because there is a hierarchy amongst porters especially; for example on Kilimanjaro there are grades of porter according to what job they do, and each one will have a slightly different rate of salary and corresponding tip. Hence we advice one figure per client which is then shared out.
Trek leaders in Nepal are often also climbing guides so they perform two roles on a trip and therefore get two tips, one for running the trek and all the logistics and another as the climbing guide.
in Kenya the staff are commonly split into porters, cooks and guides, which is much the same in Morocco.
How Much is Appropriate?
The following is a rough guide to the amount of money that you may consider giving as a tip to staff in different countries on different trips. Please note that some figures are calculated on the basis of an amount per client (Tanzania, Kenya) and some are based on a figure per staff member so it depends how many people are on the trip (Nepal, Morocco)
Mount Kilimanjaro - this figure is per client for all the staff and given to Castro in Tanzanian shillings to hand out at the end of the trip:
USD$150.00 - 7 day climb
USD$180.00 - 8 day climb
USD$200.00 - 9 day climb
Mount Meru - this figure is per client for all the staff, as above
Mount Kenya - this figure is per client for all the staff and given to the guide at the end in Kenyan shillings
USD$85.00 - 5 day climb
Safaris - this figure is per client and given to the safari guide/driver at the end and depends on the number of days
USD$20.00 - per day
Morocco Trek/Climb - this figure is per client and given to the trekking guide at the end in any currency
USD$15.00 - per day
Nepal Treks and Climbs - this figure is per staff member and given to the trekking guide at the end (see notes below)
For treks like Everest base camp, Annapurna, Langtang and Mustang:
Porter - USD$40
Asst trek leader - USD$65
Trek Leader - USD$75
For longer treks like Kanchenjunga, Upper Dolpo, 3 Passes, Manaslu Circuiit:
Porter - USD$55
Asst trek leader - USD$75
Trek Leader - USD$85
For trekking peak trips like Island Peak and Mera Peak:
Porter - USD$65
Trek leader - USD$100
Climbing guide - USD$100
In order to work out the tip you should bring for Nepal, it's necessary to know how many staff and how many clients are in the group. Then, calculate the total tips based on the figures above and divide by the number in the group.
Tips for porters must be paid in Nepali rupees because they cannot get to the city easily to exchange money, while the guides can be paid in dollars or other currencies because they are often in Kathmandu where they can change money.
There are different terms used in Nepal which can be confusing. For clarity, on treks we say Trek Leader which can also be trekking guide, tour guide, sirdar or Sherpa. For climbing peaks we say Climbing Guide which is also often Sherpa (confusingly).
Often a trek leader will also be qualified as a climbing guide and therefore will also climb a peak. Often if the numbers require an extra climbing guide, then one from the nearest village to Island Peak or Mera Peak is hired just for a few days to help with the summit cycle.
Tips in hotels and lodges
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. The amount you give, and if you give, is very much dependant on you and there is much less guidance on an exact figure but generally USD$20.00 would be ample.
Walking Safari Tips
If you are on 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. An average would be USD$30.00.
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 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.