What to Expect on a TK Safari
Example of a TK Safari Itinerary
In order to give readers an idea of what should be expected on a typical TK safari, we thought it would be most revealing to present a slide show created by one of our climbers while on safari with us.
Nicolaus Wegner is an accomplished photographer with an excellent eye for detail and an aesthetic appreciation of everything the wilderness offers, from the finest detail on the smallest flower, to the vastest landscape. As one of the elite few who have climbed Kilimanjaro on our Lite Series, he also wanted the opportunity for activity and to challenge himself, while experiencing some authentic African culture. In consideration of his demands, we designed the following itinerary for Nicolaus.
The presentation at below is a small extract of the many beautiful images he captured while with us. We hope you enjoy the show but ask you to please note that Nicolaus’ work is under copyright and may not be reproduced or printed.
Photographer Nic Wegner’s Tanzanian Safari Itinerary
- Day 1: Arusha to Ngorongoro Conservation Area Descend into Crater for game drive. Overnight on Crater Rim.
- Day 2: Game drives in Ngorongoro Conservation Area en route north to Seronera, Serengeti.
- Day 3: Morning game drives in Serengeti. Afternoon transfer to Mto wa Mbu or Lake Eyasi (time permitting).
- Day 4: Introduction to Bushmen. Day hunts beside Lake Eyasi / foot of Mount Oldeani, with lessons on survival technique while en route.
- Day 5: Very early morning hunt with own weapons; opportunity to test newly acquired skills learnt yesterday. Early lunch and transfer to foot of Oldonyo Lengai.(https://safaritourstanzania.com/national-parks/oldoinyo-lengai-natron/)
- Day 6: Pre-dawn assault of sacred mountain of the Maasai people. Descend for early lunch. Optional waterfall excursion. Drive south to overnight at Mto wa Mbu.
- Day 7: Lake Manyara game drive. Afternoon: return to Arusha.
Prices Per Person on Lightweight Camping Basis
|Safari group size||Price per person||Accommodation|
|Solo travellers||$2,872||single room occupation|
|2 people||$1,974||twinshare room occupation|
|3 people||$1,675||includes 1 single room occupation|
|4 people||$1,525||twinshare room occupation|
|5 people||$1,511||includes 1 single room occupation|
|6 people||$1,439||twinshare room occupation|
Arrival and Pre-Safari
Arusha is the most usual choice of pre-safari location at which to spend time. Those coming to Tanzania and crossing many lines of latitude, will often choose to arrive two nights prior to their proposed safari start date. There are two main reasons for this:
To recover from jet-lag and dehydration caused by prolonged exposure to air conditioning and recycled airline oxygen.
It is very common for luggage to be delayed. The more connections involved with getting to East Africa, the greater the likelihood that bags will fail to make their necessary relays on time, and you may have to wait until the next day before your luggage catches up with you.
Getting to Arusha
There are three usual methods for visitors to reach Arusha:
1. Arriving Direct to Kilimanjaro International Airport
If you have succeeded to obtain affordable flight fares all the way into Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) this is usually the best way of reaching your safari start point. During your booking process we will request your flight details and will send one of our airport transfer drivers to meet you off your flight. The driver will usually be wearing a black T-Shirt with our logo on it, and ought to be carrying an A4-size placard with the name of the main correspondent representing your safari group.
The transfer from JRO to Arusha takes around 60 minutes and covers around 50km. First-time visitors to Africa are often surprised – and can be alarmed – by local driving conventions. It is, for example, quite normal for three vehicles to be abreast of each other despite the road having only two lanes. Additionally, pedestrians (who may sometimes be inebriated) and cattle, are able to walk alongside the road on high-speed sections, and at night. Passengers should be aware of the obvious risks associated with this scenario.
Things That Go Wrong When Flying to JRO
Luggage Delays: Luggage is frequently delayed, having failed to make the connection between planes as quickly as passengers have themselves transited. We find that these delays afflict around 1 passenger in 7 coming into JRO. Please bear this in mind when deciding what to put into your hand luggage. Late luggage usually arrives 24 hours later, but can be as late as 3 or 4 days behind in very rare circumstances.
If your luggage doesn’t arrive with you, you’ll need to speak to the Swissport desk beside the baggage reclaim area and complete a lost-luggage form. The form will ask for your hotel details as well as a contact name and telephone number. You can either detail your own mobile if it’s working, or else state the contact as ‘Amina’ and the number as +255 76 777 5895.
If your safari is scheduled to start the next morning, we’ll need you to let us have a list of everything you’d like us to try to obtain for you at short notice in order not to delay your safari. If you liaise with us on +255 78 777 5895 we’ll send round a member of staff to meet you at your hotel and collect this list from you. Our staff will then work through the night if necessary, to try to obtain as much as possible of what you have requested on your list. In such circumstances, we may advise delaying the start of your safari by around 90 minutes to 2 hours.
Where luggage delays incur additional equipment replacement and hire costs, please ensure that you request a receipt for these. This will enable your travel insurance to reimburse you for these costs, depending of course, on your premium type. It is sometimes also necessary to request a letter from your safari coordinator, confirming that such events have necessitated your claim.
Late Drivers: Very rarely, an airport transfer driver may be delayed. Where this occurs we ask you to call us on our Arusha number (+255 76 777 5895) as soon as you have finished verifying that he is definitely not anywhere near the airport entrance. In this event we’ll usually contact a reserve driver based at the airport and will request that he tries to find you quickly for him to find you quickly.
If we cannot reach any of our reserve drivers we would ask you to please use one of the government authorised taxi-drivers from the airport to transfer you to your hotel. All drivers are nowadays screened by airport security at the checkpoint barrier which must be crossed prior to being admitted to the airport. Most freelance drivers will be happy for us to pay your fare on arrival at your hotel, in which case we’ll usually send a representative to meet your driver when he arrives at your hotel, and will pay his fare direct to him. Occasionally a driver may not agree to this. In this event, travellers should know that the going rate for transfers to central Arusha is between USD 50 and USD 60. If you are requested to pay this yourself, we will of course arrange to reimburse you when we make contact with you.
2. Getting to Arusha from Nairobi
Most visitors arriving into Nairobi will use the Riverside Shuttle Bus to transfer to Arusha. There are however, only two shuttle bus departures daily, one at around 0800 and the other at around 1400. If therefore your flight is not scheduled to arrive into Nairobi before 1300 it will most likely be necessary for you to transfer into Nairobi City to spend a night, before taking the morning shuttle from there to Arusha.
If you are required to spend a night in Nairobi we advise that you stay at the Comfort Hotel as it has a safe reputation and is just across the road from where the shuttle bus departs!
As regards the transfer from Nairobi Airport to the Comfort Hotel, you can either ask us to book this with the hotel (in which case we will need your flight code and arrival time) or you can simply get an authorised taxi from directly outside the front entrance of the Arrivals terminal. Please do not walk with a local catcher to an area away from the main entrance as this option may not be safe. Please ensure you enter a vehicle that is waiting in the queue directly outside the main entrance. These vehicles are screened by Airport Security and are licensed by the government to carry passengers.
If your flight reaches Nairobi early in the day we would recommend that you arrange with your safari coordinator to book you seats on the scheduled shuttle bus. Although booked and with your name on the passenger list, you will be required to pay for your seat in cash in US Dollars. The price will usually vary between USD 25 and USD 40.
If using the shuttle bus transfer service please ensure that you are waiting in position at least 15 minutes before the departure time, so that the conductor has time to stow your luggage. The transfer to Arusha takes around 5-6 hours and includes a refreshment stop a few kilometres before reaching the border, and a 20 minute stop for customs formalities at Namanga border, where you enter Tanzania.
If transferring from Nairobi to Arusha and you are booked into a central Arusha hotel (ie. The Arusha Hotel, The Outpost Lodge, L’Oasis Lodge, The Impala Hotel, The Arusha Naaz Hotel, or Le Jacaranda) please detail your shuttle bus driver to drop you off at your hotel. In some cases you will not need to change vehicles to do this, however sometimes Riverside will ask you to switch to a smaller car once the shuttle reaches its terminal (which is currently at La Meza Luna beside The Impala Hotel).
If arriving from Nairobi into Arusha and you are booked into a hotel outside Arusha (ie. Onsea House, Moivaro Coffee Lodge, Arumeru River Lodge, Arusha Coffee Lodge) you will need to advise TK of your arrival time into Arusha so that we can dispatch a driver to meet your bus. Please however be aware that shuttle buses are sometimes ahead of schedule and that while we generally have our drivers in place ahead of time, if your bus is particularly early you may need to wait a few minutes for our driver.
3. Getting to Arusha from Dar es Salaam
If flying into Dar es Salaam and wishing to reach Arusha we would generally advise that you fly, if budgeting constraints permit. This is usually very simple to arrange via Alternative Airlines Website. If however you choose to use the bus from Dar es Salaam to Arusha please be aware that this 646 km journey takes a little over 11 hours, and that you will be exposed to driving techniques with which you may feel uncomfortable – particularly if you are unfamiliar with 3rd world country driving customs.
The easiest way of arranging this transfer is through African Queen Adventures. Seats can be booked through theBookaway website. There is a departure every morning at 0600 from the Ubungo Bus Terminal, but you should arrive 30 minutes early. The price for a coach ticket from Dar to Arusha is around USD 25 per person.
It may not be possible to know accurately what time your bus will reach Arusha. On arrival at Arusha’s Central Bus Terminal you may therefore wish to arrange a taxi transfer from the Terminal to your hotel yourself. However, please ask your shuttle driver for advise and assistance with this. The fare should be around USD 5 for a central Arusha hotel, or some USD 20-30 if staying at say, Moivaro or Arumeru. Alternatively, if you have your mobile phone with you it is advisable to ask your driver for an ETA once you have passed Moshi and to then call us on +255 767 77 5895 to request a scheduled pick-up by one of our drivers.
Unless your shuttle bus driver has supplied additional help and advice, it is not necessary to tip a shuttle bus driver. However please note that when using all other vehicles for transfers it is customary to tip the driver. Tips for short transfers within Arusha tend to average some USD 1-3 to the driver. For longer journeys, such as airport and mountain transfers, these tend to be around USD 5-10 to the driver.
At Leisure in Arusha
If time constraints permit, many visitors will choose to allow for a day’s leisure to be spent in Arusha prior before their safari. If you do opt for this, you are of course at liberty to simply wander into town from your hotel on your own. If however you wish to have someone to assist you in showing you the sites, such as the local market, some crafts and souvenir shops, etc, please advise us and we’ll send a guide round to meet you at your hotel at the time that you request. The cost to have a guide assist you will be USD 20 if walking, with additional charges if transport is required. Safari-goers will generally tip the guide also.
A phenomenon of which you should be aware is that when out and about in East Africa it is very common indeed to be approached by ‘fly catchers’, local people who are aiming to make commissions by assisting you in buying anything from small souvenirs and pieces of locally-mined Tanzanite, to another safari with a local operator. Many visitors have described such attentions as annoying and unwelcome. This factor should be considered when deciding whether you wish to move alone through town or request the assistance of a TK guide who will be able to fend off any unwelcome attentions.
If your flight details or overland transfer arrangements ensure that you are in your hotel prior to 1800 on the evening immediately preceding the morning on which you are scheduled to begin your safari, and if you are staying at a central Arusha hotel, we will send a member of our staff to come and brief you at your hotel at 1800. The briefing assumes that you have spent time familiarising yourself with your route overview and other information available on our website and so should not require much of your time, but you are warmly invited to ask our representative to elaborate on any aspects of the brief that will assist you with last minute preparations or put your mind at rest about anything that you have as yet not managed to resolve.
If your flight or overland transfer arrives too late to ensure that you are at your hotel by 1800 on the evening immediately preceding the morning on which you are scheduled to begin your safari, or you have elected to stay at a hotel outside Arusha (ie. Moivaro, Arumeru, KIA Lodge) you will only be briefed by your guide when he collects you at 0730 on the morning of your safari. Please note that if you know that your circumstances will disallow a briefing on the evening before your safari, you are strongly advised to liaise in detail with your safari coordinator before flying to Africa, over any aspects of concern you may have about your kit, as there will usually not be any opportunity for the guide to either check your kit or obtain any replacement items, as this would impose delays on beginning your safari, and others in your group who have succeeded in completing their administration ahead of time, will usually be disappointed to have such delays imposed.
Kit Hire Delivery
During your booking phase you will normally have been invited to advise us whether you wish to hire any items of kit from us for use on your safari – particularly if you are attempting an ascent of Oldonyo Lengai and may require specialist mountain clothing. If you have submitted a kit hire request form our usual procedure is for one of our staff to deliver this to you when he comes to brief you at 1800 on the evening immediately prior to your safari. On rare occasions this is however not possible, in which event your kit hire will be delivered to you when you are collected at 0730 the following morning.
Security in and Around ArushaPlease at all times be aware of the security of your luggage and valuables and make use of your hotel’s safe deposit facilities. We have now experienced two events at two different hotels in the last few years where visitors’ cash has been stolen from within their hotel rooms. While this represents a very low ratio of our visitors overall, we nonetheless advise caution and awareness.
Sadly, muggings have also increased sharply in Arusha. Until the beginning of 2008 we were aware of only two visitors who had been mugged. Since 2008, such incidents have increased sharply, such that we hear of muggings in Arusha on a weekly basis nowadays. The way to avoid being mugged is simply to avoid travelling alone at night on the streets. We recommend in the strongest possible terms, that if venturing out of your hotels at night, you do so only in a taxi, and preferably have someone escort you that you know and trust.
Mugging Techniques in Arusha
Muggers in Arusha will usually have no desire to harm the victim. They will generally rely on intimidation techniques, such as brandishing a machete or knife, and demanding compliance, or on snatching a handbag. In the latter case, a motorbike is usually parked in the street ahead of where the victim is walking. The robber then quietly approaches from behind, grabs a bag or cellphone, and then runs onwards to his friend who is waiting to rush him away on the motorbike. While Tanzanians are generally far gentler than the indigenous populations of most countries in Africa, tourists are seen as having plenty of disposable income and it is believed that their losses are insured. Please therefore reflect on the extent to which you pose a temptation to an out-of-work local with criminal inclinations.
On Safari with TK
You would usually expect to be collected from your hotel by your guide and support team (if joining a camping safari) at 0730 on the morning of your safari start date. Unless you have requested a private safari (most of our Tanzanian safaris are arranged on private basis, whereas our Kenyan safaris are all arranged on open-group basis) where there are safari-goers staying at different hotels this pick-up time may be deferred slightly. Those joining safaris on which there are other group members staying at different hotels who wish to have an accurate estimate of their amended pick-up time are asked to either call our Arusha office on +255 78 777 5895.
Following pick-up, transfer times to your first safari venue will vary from 40 minutes-odd for Arusha National Park, to more than 3 hours if going direct to Ngorongoro on your first day, or if doing a day trip to the crater. Our drivers know the roads intimately and tend to drive very confidently. While all are trained to drive with respect to the sensibilities of foreigner visitors, please don’t feel inhibited from letting the driver know if you feel that his driving is uncomfortably fast and you wish him to drive slower. His brief is to maximise your enjoyment of the experience and his time is yours throughout the duration of your itinerary. While he will be aiming to maximise your time within the national parks, the transfer to the national parks is beautiful also and you need never feel rushed, unless you have requested a special itinerary that is deliberately compact, we have advised you that such an itinerary is rather ‘rushed’ and you have acknowledged this but have made clear that this is acceptable to you. In this event, there are certain legs of the journey which will be time-sensitive, on which the driver is required to reach manned check-in points before certain cut-off times, as his permits for each park will have a pre-determined duration of validity. At any stage of a safari, should you feel that the pace is quicker than you expected, please discuss this with your driver and he will outline your options to amend your itinerary.
Equipment Used on Lightweight Camping Safaris
Adventurers going on lightweight camping safaris are required to themselves supply the kit listed on our recommended personal kit check list. Team Kilimanjaro provides the following equipment on safari:
- Lightweight portable sleeping tents
- Mess tents for meals (unless staying exclusively at camps which have dining areas)
- Tables and chairs
- All necessary cutlery and ancillaries for meals and drinks
- Custom-designed 4cm-thick foam sleeping mattresses
- Wash basins for rudimentary personal ablutions. In addition, most camps have basic showers
- Private portable toilets if staying in minimal environmental impact wilderness camps that have no permanent infrastructure
- First aid kits
Food on a Lightweight Camping Safari
While it’s admittedly easy for a company to dig out something favourable to publish from past guests, the following comments are fairly typical and our cooks really do excel and take their work very seriously:
“Wonderful meals and we were constantly astounded at the quality of the food and the variety of the menu.”
“The food from TK was very good … Every lunch and dinner started with a hot soup and the meals were very tasty.”
“The quality of the food was top notch and I was never wanting from lack of food (in fact, I was provided at least twice the amount of food than I was able to consume at every meal)!”
“James and Ima were both fantastic guides, and the food prepared by Daniel was probably best we’d experienced during our time in Tanzania!”
“The equipment was great (better than many other company’s equipment from what we saw). The food was fantastic. .. Very, very nice crew.”
“The standard of food and accomodation was a lot better than we ever expected."
Catering for Vegetarians on Safari
We are also often asked whether we are able to cater for vegetarians. We are, and we estimate that vegetarians comprise some 10% or so of all our guests, so this is a very usual request.
We do not operate set menus and conversely, our cooks are at liberty to prepare their own favourite choices of meals, which we find encourages flare and diversity.
Dinner Protocol on Safari - Avoiding Awkwardness!
Guests’ preferences vary and there are no fixed customs over meals. Solo travellers will often want the guide to join them for dinner whereas honeymoon couples will usually prefer to eat alone. We ask guests to please therefore be very frank, clear and confident with your guide in expressing your own preferences, day by day, such as ‘Tonight Marco, I think Jim and I will take dinner alone’ or ‘This afternoon would you like to join us for lunch, Ayubu?’.
Animals Seen on Safari in Tanzania
This resource is provided to assist safari-goers with recognition of animals that may be encountered when in the field, both on game drives on safari in Tanzania and also farther afield. We link to the Wikipedia entry for each animal, as while not always devoid of error, these pages are nonetheless fairly reliably updated with population numbers.
- African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana)
- Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)
- Masai giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchii)
- Plains zebra (Equus quagga)
- Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus)
- Gray wolf (Canis lupus)
- Golden jackal (Canis aureus)
- Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)
- Raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides)
Leporidae (rabbits and hares)
- European hare (Lepus europaeus)
Sciuridae (small and medium sized rodents)
- Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)
- Coypu (Myocastor coypus)
Mustelidae (weasel family)
Phasianidae (heavy, ground living birds)
- Western capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus)
- Common pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
- Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus colchicus)
- Mongolian pheasant (Phasianus colchicus mongolicus)
- Korean pheasant (Phasianus colchicus karpowi)
- Grey partridge (Perdix perdix)
- Rock partridge (Alectoris graeca)
- Chuka partridge (Alectoris chukar)
- Common quail (Coturnix coturnix)
- Helmeted guineafowl (Numida meleagris)
Columbidae (pigeons and doves)
- Common wood pigeon (Columba palumbus)
- European turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur)
- Eurasian collared dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Customised safari vehicles for panoramic viewing and bird photography
We use both Land Rovers and Land Cruisers. However, prior to beginning work on the safari circuit a vehicle undergoes substantial modification including having the roof specially modified to enable it to lift upwards and lock down out of the way. This enables passengers to stand up and look out of the roof in all directions. This is particularly useful for those wanting to pause under tree canopy and photograph birds. Vehicles will often have additional shock absorber mounts installed and stiffer than normal suspension springs, which make the vehicle more robust and capable of carrying the requisite weights, but often results in a slightly bumpier ride, which you should be aware of.
All in all, while a safari with us is an exciting and fascinating experience, it should be undertaken with the mindset of an ‘adventurer’, together with the appropriate awareness of risk and exposure to eventualities that off-road travel in Africa involves, and which will usually be absent from, say, a package coach journey across Europe, or a family road-trip across the United States.
The following slideshow offers an example of each three different types of safari vehicle that are used on our safaris:
- 110 Land Rovers. These are without a doubt the best performers off-road but have poor window winding and door mechanisms, flex continuously, and are the least well sealed against dust.
- Extended Land Cruisers or Range Rovers that have 7 rear seats. These are not useful for serious off-roading but are a good compromise between comfort for large groups and resilience on rough roads
- Standard Length Land Cruisers. These do not perform as well off-road and need to be driven slowly on uneven ground (as opposed to Land Rovers) but have better functioning doors and windows and are sealed much more reliably against dust, as they do not twist and flex like Land Rovers, which have aluminium, riveted bodies.
Private Vehicle Occupation and Flexibility of Movement
Our Tanzanian safaris are designed for small groups and most vehicles will be occupied only by people who know each other and have booked together. On occasions, where there will be a significant cost saving per person, we may suggest that you join another booking group and get in touch with each other prior to committing, so as to ensure that you have approximately aligned interests. An easy-to-use means of advertising interest in proposed safari routes and dates, so that solo travelers and pairs can attract additional members to their booking and thereby reduce the per person costs, is the TK Facebook page or the TK climb and safari forum.
A private safari allows a great deal of flexibility. If you enjoy certain aspects of a safari more than others, such as bird watching or finding elephants, you can advise your driver and he will prioritise the things that are important to you, rather than having to accept the modal preferences of a larger group. Or if on some days you fancy a steadier pace or wish to stop off en route to see something un-prescribed, you have the liberty of requesting your driver to do this.
Some Realities of Off-Road Driving in Africa
Astute readers will have noticed that the majority of safari agents claim that their vehicles are maintained in immaculate condition and are thoroughly reliable. While such assertions likely fall well within what passes for modern marketing ethics nowadays, we would suggest caution as regards how best to interpret such claims, as we cannot remember a multi-day safari on which we have not encountered at least a small handful of broken down vehicles beside the road. These vehicles range from the nearly brand new through to some which are rather ancient, and while we would suggest that there’s a reasonably well defined correlation between frequency of breakdowns, and the budgeting limitations of the most cost-competitive operators, nonetheless in our experience breakdowns do indeed seem to span the whole spectrum of operators, with a handful of incidents amongst the very expensive operators, through to rather frequent stoppages being suffered by the cheapest operations.
The fact of the matter is that four wheel driving in laden vehicles on rough African roads particularly on adventurous routes off the beaten track – is mechanically very demanding, and minor breakdowns should be anticipated as fairly normal occurrences. And this applies equally to our safaris also, not merely our budget-oriented competitors.
Readers will have gathered that we prefer to adopt a truthful stance at the outset and prior to securing your commitment, rather than aim to lull prospective visitors into a false sense of security and then feign incredulity when a vehicle suffers a minor breakdown. So we choose to state the facts, namely, that on the average safari lasting more than two days and venturing beyond Lake Manyara, safari-goers should realistically anticipate at least a punctured tyre, and on longer safaris should not be overly disappointed or surprised if their itinerary is further disturbed by a small handful of un-planned events. Additionally, the East African safari circuit relies on a ‘Good Samaritan’ principle, whereby if we find a fellow driver from another company in difficulties, our drivers are trained to ask your permission to pause and offer assistance.
Some breakdowns and mechanical failures are unavoidable when on safari
While we do not wish to discourage readers, it is valuable to establish these facts at the outset so as to dispel unhelpful and unrealistic expectations of off-road safaris. Expeditions in the African bush contrast significantly with normal off-roading experiences in western nations where, typically, an off-roading weekend excursion requires minimal weight to be carried and will involve a couple of hundred miles of good roads and perhaps only 20 – 50 miles of mud and loose stones. Conversely, the substantial weights and distances on very rough, dusty, weather-beaten roads on the safari circuit will cause frequent damage to shock absorbers and suspension springs, wear down expensive tyres in a matter of several weeks, and place difficult-to-anticipate stresses on many engine parts and fuel transmission components.
Constant vibrations will also work many things loose, and despite good maintenance practice, problematic door-frame fittings, window winding mechanisms, and windscreen wiper motors are typical issues that frequently arise and which you should please be aware of.
All this said, serious breakdowns very seldom occur on our safaris and realistically one need only expect the occasional small problem and punctured tyre. Our drivers are generally very adept at resolving such scenarios, and with the ‘Good Samaritan’ support structure on safaris, breakdowns can easily be taken in stride and to date have never impinged on security.
Tipping on Safari
Tipping is a universal custom on safaris in East Africa and has always constituted a significant proportion of a guide’s or crew member’s take-home income.
Since between a third and a half of all the costs paid by those on safari already go directly to government coffers via the system of park fees, permits, and in-country VAT, we believe that a more efficient use of any additional funds that a safari-goer is willing to part with, would be for these funds to go directly into the pockets of your support staff. This is possible and entirely legal if given via tips, as opposed to via an enhanced salary or system of bonuses.
Tanzanian Personal Income Tax & Tipping
The Tanzanian Revenue Authority’s current memo on tipping and allowances states the following:
Employees in certain trades receive tips which form a substantial part to their income. The payments of tips received from the employer or a third party as a reward for services rendered in the course of the employment are taxable. Payments given as a present in appreciation of the recipients’ personal qualities, such as faithfulness, and consistency and readiness to oblige, would not be taxable.
Safari-goers are therefore encouraged to consider the tax-free reward system of tipping with respect to addressing any perceived disparities between services rendered and appropriate remuneration as the kindest and most efficient means of achieving whatever balance the safari-goer judges to be correct.
Granted that visitors are always willing to supplement the rewarding of their staff through tips, we realise that the costs of going on safari are considerable and such tours need to be carefully saved and budgeted for. We are therefore often asked for guidelines for recommended tipping amounts.
How Much Should I Tip the Safari Crew?
A simple answer to this question is that our safari-goers tend to tip between 8 and 10% of the lightweight camping price for the safari they are going on – even if requesting luxury accommodation – as well as further tips to each local specialist guide if their safari involves survival skills with the Bushmen of Eyasi, or a visit to a traditional Maasai boma, or an ascent of the volcano Oldonyo Lengai.
If for example two people go on safari on our 702 schedule, a normal tip amount – regardless of accommodation type requested – might be calculated by them as follows:
- around USD 160 per safari-goer, plus
- a total of USD 20 for the Maasai Guide
- a total of USD 30 for the Eyasi Guide
- a total of perhaps USD 40 for the Oldonyo Lengai Guide
...making the tipping contribution around USD 205 per client.
Tipping the bushmen. Many safari-goers also choose to add a small tip to the Bushmen, but are advised to discuss this with their local Eyasi guide as the Bushmen have only a shallow grasp of effective use of money and it may be more helpful for the Eyasi guide (Gasper) to purchase something useful on their behalf.
Of the main portion of the tip allocated to the full-time members of your safari, the USD 160 x 2 = USD 320, an appropriate division that reflects the respective experience and responsibility of each member, would be a 50:25:25 split between Driver, Assistant Guide, and Cook. In this example, then:
- The Driver would be given around USD 160
- The Cook would be given around USD 80
- The Assistant Guide would be given around USD 80
If on a game-viewing only lodge or permanent tented camp safari, there would be no Assistant Guide, and the tip amount would be divided in a ratio of around 70:30, between the Driver and Cook.
Rule of Thumb
And if all of this is too complicated to remember, the following is a good, and rather simpler, rule:
- Drivers are usually tipped USD 20 - 30 a day
- Cooks & assistant guides are each usually tipped USD 10 - 15 a day
- Local specialist guides are usually tipped between USD 20 and 40, depending on how difficult their work has been