Tipping while on a Safari in Uganda and Rwanda

Posted by on May 6, 2019

Practical Tips on Tipping on a Gorilla -Chimpanzee – Wildlife Safari

Common Sense Tips on Tipping while on a Safari in Uganda and Rwanda-


 Tipping while on a Safari in Uganda and Rwanda- Sensible Tips, Gratuities make a difference in the lives of ordinary people on your Safari in Uganda or Rwanda. Uganda and Rwanda are two countries such as many across the World with a non-tipping culture. Tips used to be not expected but very much appreciated by all those part of the Tourism Industry.  

The Rangers, Staff at the Hotel or Lodge, for the most part, make a small salary compared to visitors such as yourself.  A Gratuity or Tip often impacts the life of the person you are tipping and even their children and family.  Another reason to tip in a non-tipping culture as found here.

Tipping Practices for Visitors to Uganda and Rwanda – Clients of some Tour Operators are often given a list as to how much to tip your Tour Guide – Driver.  We do not do so since we believe it is not an obligatory ritual but a recognition of excellent service.  The amounts being based on your ability and wishes, our Driver Guide is probably your best Tipping and Gratuity Advisor.

Tipping is not obligatory While on a Safari in Uganda or Rwanda: 

TTipping Practices for Visitors to Uganda and Rwanda -use your common Sense – we say that in spite of some  of Tour Companies publishing What to tip and Whom to Tip with suggestions that will add hundreds of Dollars to your safari Cost. Tipping is a Matter of the Heart, a result where you feel someone has gone beyond the norm and given you that extra touch of Service and enhanced your Time on the Safari, such your Driver-Guide, the Uganda Wildlife Authority Ranger that has made your Gorilla or Chimpanzee Trek and Game Drive an unforgettable moment of discovery, the Staff atLodges or Hotels, Restaurant Staff.

Lodges will often have a Tipping Jar prominently displayed in the dining area or elsewhere in the Lodge.  Hopefully no raids the Tipping Jar.

Tipping while on a Safari generates better Service:  

Customer Service, Customer Care is one of the biggest complaints in Uganda and Rwanda.  For the Westerner, there are Cultural Differences.  No waiter or waitress will rush up to your table and announce – Hello I am Robert and your waiter tonight, what can I get you started with.”  The Staff will often remain at the side, towards the back and not come to the table.  Reach out your hand toward one of hem, reach out your hand with palm down, make what seems like a scratching motion with your fingers and magically that Staff person will be at your side. 

If you want exemplary service beyond what you are used in most 1st World Nations, try this proven method.  Give a tip during your first encounter, a small one, anything is possible after that.  The next time you arrive for dinner, you will be served that drink of choice before you ever ask for it.

This principle also applying when it comes to laundry service, cleaning your boots, or shoes at a lodge, needing that special something in your, a small tip will make your life very pleasant on Safari.

 Tip in Ugandan Shillings or Rwandan Francs:

 No Foreign Coins – that is a definite no.  It is too hard to change small foreign bills,  Give in Shillings or Francs, and everyone will be happy.  This is also easier for you and less of a hassle for you.

Be Mindful that you are an Ambassador for your Country:

In a way, you are an ambassador for your country on Safari in Uganda or Rwanda, and your tips will show to Africans that they are appreciated, that their service is valued and will make them form a better opinion of your country of origin. Go beyond tipping, engage in some meaningful conversation – find out more about the person serving you, that often will go further than just a tip. It is not the size of the tip, gratuity that you leave behind; it is the spirit in which it is given.

Unfortunately – Some see Tipping while on a Safari as Obligatory:

There are no Tariffs of Tips list published in either Uganda or Rwanda unlike Park Tariffs for either Uganda or Rwanda.  Tipping is still a matter of heart rewarding excellence of service and satisfying Personal Requests that made  your time on Safari even better.

You will find suggestions as high 40 USD per Gorilla Trek to – that is 320 USD and over a Million Shillings – if someone receives such tip a day in Uganda, even shared that person exceeds most Mid-Level Government Employees.

Part of his is due to how Tourists are viewed locally.  They are seen as rich without limits. While a tourist of modest means may be more affluent than the richest man or woman in a village, there are limits to a Tourist’s resources and tipping is often not planned when the safari itself is planned.

Gorilla Trekking is already Africa’s most expensive tourist activity, now Tips, plus you probably want to use a Porter who is paid directly by you, plus Tour Companies suggest Tips in a non-tipping culture.  Ironically most Tourists do not have the American Habit of Tipping ingrained in them but have service added right in the bill.  Maybe Uganda will start selling permits with a Service Charge tacked on -we are kidding of course.

 Our Suggestions for Tipping while on a Safari, including Gorilla, Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda-Rwanda:

Use your Driver-Guide; he knows his or her own Country and knows what Tip is right for each occasion.  Allow your Driver-Guide to be your Tip-Master who handles the tips for Gorilla Treks, Chimpanzee Treks, Game Drives where you are with Park Personnel.  He can arrange the porter and their payment including a tip if you see so fit.

We believe in Tipping and know Tipping impacts Lives at the same time believe that Tipping is the Decision of the Tipper and is never obligatory, there is no such thing as a minimum Tip – as such it becomes a fee no matter what it might be called.

Tipping Impacts African Lives for the Good:

The Salaries and Benefits for those in the Tourist Industry are better than for those that work in non-Tourist Hotels or Restaurants. Young People especially have a tough time finding work, whether they are trained or not.  In Uganda,  Youth Unemployment runs as high as 90%. Those that find work in the Tourism Industry are fortunate. The wages are still relatively low, the hours are long.  There is never enough for school fees, medical care, even rent.  Your tips make a difference, in some cases empower them to get a better education,

A Tip on a Safari is like an investment in the future of African man or woman, and it is a form of empowerment, Some Safe their tips and invest in a home, a business of some kind, or support a family as a single mother. A tip, not obligatory, but appreciated and put to work, it becomes a part of a brighter future for those that you impart the tip to…We Thank You…and so will the person receiving your Gratuity a hands-on gift that impacts a life, a person, a family in Uganda.

If you come from a non-tipping culture, put aside your culture and leave a gratuity for excellent service given.