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.
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.
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 in Kenya on Safari
- A tip of $10 – $12 per person, per day for the guide (in our case, the guide was also the driver).
- A tip of $5 per person, per game drive, for a local tracker
- We tipped $5 per guide on our 2-hour walking safari
- $5 per person, per day for all staff (meant for the tip box)
- $5 per boat ride
- $1 for small services like carrying the luggage
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.
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.
FAQs for Tipping 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.
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).
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.