Tipping in namibia is welcome. BUT we do not have this intense tipping culture as you might be used to from visiting the USA – where every buttler or luggage boy hovers around until he gets his tip, a very annoying situation.
Staff in lodges and restaurants throughout namibia get a salary – so they are just doing what they are being paid for when carrying luggage or delivering other services and nobody will sulk or not serve you again for not being tipped. Also, if you feel that the service was below standard then it is ok not to tip in restaurants (this applies to towns, cities) 10% of the bill is the standard.
Most lodges are now working on a communal tipping system. We suggest that you only tip once – when checking out! You will find at most lodges that there is a staff tip box at reception. The lodges have their own systems of distributing the money, that way even back-of-house staff (laundry, room service, kitchen) benefit from tips and not just waiters and guides. We feel that N$ 50 per person per day is good/minimum for good service so 2 people staying for two nights thus tip N$ 200 but feel free to tip more of course.
Very Important: guides (that take you on activities) are normally excluded from this staff tip box. so you should tip your guide separately. Keep in mind that your guide will normally be allocated to you throughout your stay i.e. tip him/her only once after the last activity. as a guideline, we feel that N$100 (about US$10) for a couple/small group per day is OK. If the guide is exceptional the sky is the limit – you do what you feel like. If the experience was poor and did not measure up to your expectations then tip less or nothing at all. If you are still not sure please consult the management at the lodge/guesthouse for their input on the subject.
And finally, similar guidelines would apply to you guide on a complete Guided Safari. His/her salary has been budgeted for – so you as the clients have already paid a market-related price for the services. The N$50 per person per day guideline is a good one. So for 10-12 days guided safari for 2 people a N$ 1000 tip at the end (provided you have been satisfied with the services) will be most appreciated. of course, this does not have to be multiplied exponentially if more people (say a family of 5) are travelling together – just find a happy medium.
Hope this helps in clarifying the ever occurring “tipping” question.