Maasai warrior pointing his stick above the Great Rift Valley

Tipping in Kenya

Tipping in Kenya does not have to be a minefield. We outline some of the expectation and etiquette associated with tipping on safari, while hiking, and in the city…

Coming from Europe, where tipping usually means rounding off to some arbitrary nearest figure, tipping in Africa can sometimes feel like a minefield. The cost of living in Kenya is more expensive than in its neighbouring countries, so tips need to be higher than the African average. However, Kenyans that work in the tourism industry are paid a living wage, and their salary is higher than the median. Therefore, they do not depend on tips to survive. At the same time, because of this higher wage, they are often expected to support their extended families. These are all things to consider when tipping.

A group of guides resting on a river bank in the Great Rift Valley, Kenya, Africa
Your crew is the most important ingredient of a successful trip – your life can sometimes literally be in their hands, so choose wisely

Kenyans are subtle about tipping. The ones we met believe that tipping should be a bonus for good service, and time and again they provided service beyond our expectations. Compared to many other developing countries we have visited, they are not aggressive about it. Tipping is expected, but not demanded.

An old Land Rover vehicle on a dusty road in Kenya, Africa
While your transport options sometimes can look a bit rusty, you’d be amazed at how useful they often turn out to be

We also think that the expected amount, averaging around $10 – $15 per person, per day, is fair and affordable for most visitors to Kenya.

Tipping Recommendations

We compiled some tipping guidelines throughout our 45-day stay in Kenya. We gathered these figures from our tour operator and our lodges.

Tipping in Kenya on Safari

  1. A tip of $10 – $12 per person, per day for the guide (in our case, the guide was also the driver).
  2. A tip of $5 per person, per game drive, for a local tracker
  3. We tipped $5 per guide on our 2-hour walking safari
  4. $5 per person, per day for all staff (meant for the tip box)
  5. $5 per boat ride
  6. $1 for small services like carrying the luggage
Safari driver/guide standing in front of a safari vehicle in. Nairobi, Kenya, Africa
We encountered some amazing safari guides on our adventures in Kenya, but Joseph Mbotte from the Natural World Kenya Safaris has become a lot more than that, we are happy to call him our friend

Tipping in Kenya when Hiking

The recommendation here is to tip about 10% of the total cost of the trip. However, you should treat this rule flexibly as some hiking providers are cheaper than others. Our five-day hike through Loita Hills, for example, was only $1250 for the two of us. We had two guides, two porters and a camp cook. 10% for five of them would be far too little. We thought a fair price would be $12 per day for each member of the crew.

Hiking crew taking a rest in a forest  in Loita Hills, Kenya, Africa
A great crew when on a hike in remote parts of Kenya can make all the difference – we struck gold with the OutDoor Circuits East Africa

The custom in this situation is to tip the entire crew as a group. In our case, we gave the cash to the lead guide, in front of his team. Tipping your hiking crew as a group allows them to distribute the money among themselves, according to the work they have done. For example, the camp cook would usually have to do more work than the porter. If possible, offer the tip in smaller notes (like in bills of 1000 Kenyan Shillings). Where possible, change from US dollars or Euros into the local currency.

Tipping in Nairobi

Tipping in Nairobi is a bit different as the city caters to both locals and foreigners. There is a large, and growing middle class in the capital city, and also a significant affluent population. In Nairobi restaurants, it is similar to restaurants in Europe, where a tip of 10% of the total bill is customary. Uber rides are anywhere between $2.50 for a 15-minute ride, to about $8 for an hour-long ride. Suggested tips are between $0.50 to $2.

Glass of wine in a restaurant in Nairobi, Kenya, Africa
Every visitor will be spoilt for choice when it comes to wining and dining in Nairobi
Fancy cake in a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Africa
Hamburger at Mama Rocks in Nairobi, Kenya, Africa
Latte coffee at Connect Coffee Roasters in Nairobi, Kenya, Africa

FAQs for Tipping in Kenya

Is tipping customary in Kenya

Yes, tipping is expected in Kenya. Kenyans tip their service staff and, likewise, visitors to the country are also expected to tip for good service.

How much to tip in Kenya on Safari?

Natural World Kenya Safaris, a local Kenyan tour operator, suggests tipping $10 per person, per day for their safari guides (who also double as drivers).

What is the tipping etiquette in Kenya?

Tipping is customary at the end of a service. For example, you should tip your guide and driver at the end of your safari. For hotel staff, put the tip in the tip box at the end of your stay.