The currency in Tanzania is the Tanzania Shilling though the U.S. dollar is the most convenient and readily acceptable currency. Visa and MasterCard are accepted at some lodges and larger shops. Travelers checks are difficult to cash and are not recommended but you may wish to bring for emergency purposes. It is recommended to bring enough US dollars plus an additional cushion amount to cover all additional expenses just to be on the safe side. Please make sure to bring crisp, new vintage bills as many shops, hotels and banks in Tanzania will not accept older bills due to counterfeiting problems.
The majority of the costs on your trip are included in your package. See your inclusions and exclusions section on the last page of your itinerary along with the tipping guidelines below for a gauge to determine the amount of money you will need to bring. You should bring U.S. dollars in both large and small denominations to pay for any additional expenses. Change for large denominations may be difficult. It is recommended that you bring approximately fifty one-dollar bills in a separate accessible envelope. Most of the extras on your safari including drinks ($1 - $3 per bottled water, soft drink, beer, wine or spirits where not included), laundry ($2 - $3 per item where not included), souvenirs (many under $5) and miscellaneous tips (see tipping section below) are individually under $5. Accordingly, carrying on you an envelope of one-dollar bills comes in handy. Please note that all drinks and laundry are included at Migration Camp, Private Luxury Camp, Kusini Camp, Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Swala Camp, Tarangire Treetops, Mnemba Island Lodge and The Palms Zanzibar. Bottled water at meals served from the lodge or camp is considered a bar item and not included at those lodges and camps that do not include all drinks.
Tipping on your Safari
Tipping is just one way for guests to “give back” to the local people of Tanzania. It’s true that tipping has become a customary and integral part of the safari industry, but it remains an excellent way to recognize one’s appreciation for excellent service. Many guests express a desire to understand ahead of time what amounts and methods are appropriate or customary, which is the reason for the suggested guidelines expressed here. Please see below for recommended tipping guidelines for your safari:
- Driver-Guide: $40 to $70 per vehicle per day
- Private Luxury Camping: $30 to $60 per vehicle per day
- Walking Safaris: $20 per vehicle per walk
- Maasai Boma Visit: $20 per vehicle
- Ranger tip for Mara River: $20 per group
- Meet and Greet Staff tip in Arusha: $10 to $20 per group
- Porterage/Baggage Handling: $2 to $4 per group per lodge
- Lodge/Camp Staff Gratuity boxes: See below
The biggest tip on your safari will most likely be to your driver guide. It is most appropriate to provide the tip to your driver-guide all in one lump sum amount during the last day of your safari. Large denomination bills ($50 or $100) are suitable for your driver-guide tip. Please make sure to bring crisp, new vintage bills as many shops, hotels and banks in Tanzania will not accept older bills due to counterfeiting problems.
The Meet and Greet Staff tip suggested above refers to ADS staff in Arusha, specifically the representative picking you up at the airport and transferring you to your arrival hotel; this person will also give you a “pre-safari briefing” and will ensure all your initial questions are answered. However, you do NOT need to tip the representative that meets you inside customs at the Kilimanjaro Airport to issue your Tanzania Visa.
At each lodge and camp there are gratuity boxes located in the reception area. We recommend using these gratuity boxes in lieu of providing a tip to the people that assist you directly (waiter, bartender, etc). By using the gratuity box, your tip is divided fairly among all the staff members including the ones behind the scenes such as the cooks, room attendants, house keepers, security guards, etc. Providing a tip in each lodge’s or camp’s gratuity box is by no means mandatory but if you feel that you have received excellent service and are inclined to provide a tip, then a $10 per group per night tip would be sufficient. Please note that all Lemala Camp properties may have information sheets located inside your room which suggest tipping the Lemala staff $15 per person per day. These tipping guidelines are NOT applicable to guests on a private safari with ADS and are strictly intended for guests on a game package (group safari) basis. At most lodges and camps, someone will bring your luggage in from your vehicle to your room. You may wish to provide a $2 to $4 per group tip for this service. It is recommended that you bring one-dollar bills to cover tipping described above and various other inexpensive small items (souvenirs, incidentals, etc) as change is not readily available at most properties. Other discretionary tips include tipping your private butler at the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge or Mbalageti Presidential Suite (suggested at $10 to $20 per couple per stay).
Why aren't tips included in the price? Tipping may seem like an old fashioned tradition to some, but like other service oriented businesses (restaurants, etc.) it remains a cornerstone of the safari industry. Paying out tips ahead of time, even though it may be more convenient for guests who don't want to travel with cash, really robs tipping of its original purpose.
Why isn't wine and other alcoholic beverages included in the price for all lodges? How much should I expect to pay? All the lodges and camps are individually owned and operated, and we have little control over whether or not beverages are included in their rates. Nobody likes hidden costs so we can assure you we do try hard to make it very clear up front exactly what is included and excluded in each safari itinerary. Wine can typically be purchased from the various lodge restaurants or bar by the glass or by the bottle. Wine prices span a considerable range; premium wines are usually available as well as less expensive varieties and house wine. Other types of alcoholic beverages are available for purchase, including premium liqueurs, and you can basically expect to pay approximately the same as what you'd pay for the same type/brand at a typical bar or restaurant here in the US.
Why can't we pay for the balance of our safari with a credit card? We will accept a credit card for the deposits but we kindly ask you to pay the rest of the balance by check (personal check is fine). The main reason for this policy is simply costs. ADS is charged a hefty fee from Visa or MasterCard to process reward cards (i.e. mileage or points), which most of our clients utilize these days. These fees (totaling several thousand dollars for each of our larger groups) are quite substantial. We have chosen not to incorporate these excessive fees into our pricing so we can continue to provide our clients with the very finest safari experience while at the same time maintaining competitive rates. We hope this does not pose too big of an inconvenience for you in the end.
Can we use a credit card to make purchases while we are in Tanzania on safari? We encourage people to try and avoid using credit cards for small purchases, even at the lodges. It's not a matter of the shop or lodge's reputation, it's a matter of computer security in general in Africa. (Just an aside, many of the lodges and camps 'in the bush' are unable to take credit cards anyway).
The reason why we are giving this advice is because incidents have happened in the past where guests' credit card numbers were being used for other purchases in Africa after they got home. That being said, the incidents have been few and far between, just a handful of guests had a problem out of literally hundreds that had no problem. But it's good to be aware, at the very least. If you end up using your credit card, just keep an eye on your statement when you get home.
Considering I will be traveling with a fair amount of cash, do you have any advice about how to do this safely? Many guests express concern about carrying cash, which is understandable. On a trip like this it is somewhat necessary, but luckily it is easy to keep your cash safe by following a few tips and by practicing common sense. First of all, keep your money with you at all times. We recommend carrying your cash in a neck wallet or money belt, similar to those found at the following link: http://shop.eaglecreek.com/money-belts-and-neck-wallets/l/312 Luckily most animals aren't big on pick-pocketing, and since most of your time is going to be spent in wilderness areas without many people around, there is little occasion for concern there. But if you find yourself in a village, market, airport or other public place, simply practice common sense and don't flaunt your cash or valuables. While staying at the lodges or camps, don't leave your cash or valuables laying out in plain sight in the middle of your room while you are out on safari. Most local Tanzanians value their jobs too much to risk losing it for petty theft, but at the same time many of them are far from wealthy and are often using the money they make at their jobs to support the needs of family members back home. It's courteous to remember this and simply wise to not put the temptation out there for them. Many lodges or camps have security safes, or better yet just keep your money and valuables with you at all times.
Credit Card Warning: Due to recent occurrences of credit card fraud in Tanzania, we are advising all guests to take extra precautions regarding the use of their credit cards while in Tanzania. If you use your credit card in Tanzania (i.e. at a hotel or shop), there is a higher than normal risk that the credit card numbers will be stolen and fraudulent charges will be made. Accordingly, we believe that it is prudent to take the following precautions:
If you do plan to use a credit card in Tanzania, then please call your credit card company prior to departure and advise them of the following: A) your travel dates and locations for both your final destinations and locations of layovers/stopovers, B) authorize charges only within those travel dates and C) set a maximum transaction limit.