Taking Money An An African Safari

Money On African Safari – Preparing for your African safari requires careful consideration, including ensuring you have adequate cash on hand. Navigating the various African currencies can be complex, especially when factoring in gratuities and bartering at local markets. Unlike a typical holiday, spending money on an African safari involves unique considerations and practices that may vary from what you’re accustomed to.

How Much Money Do I Need To Take On An African Safari?

In upscale African safaris, amenities like meals, drinks, activities, and park fees are commonly encompassed in the package, unless otherwise stated. Conversely, budget safaris might entail contributing to a food kitty, with supplies procured locally by the guide. Additionally, certain meals and drinks might not be covered. Regardless of the safari type, spending money is typically essential for two primary categories.

In most countries in Africa, meals cost from $8 per meal, Tips for guides might be $10 per day and others. However, tipping guides is optional and can only be done if you like.


Meals, Drinks And Any Activities not Included In Your Safari Itinerary

An all-inclusive African safari typically covers most meals, drinks, and park fees, yet opportunities to spend money locally abound. Lodge and camp shops offer African crafts, jewelry, and souvenirs, while visits to local markets or organizations provide further chances for purchases or donations.

On more budget-friendly safaris, some meals may not be included, requiring budgeting. Additionally, drinks, including bottled water, might not always be provided. Expect to allocate more cash locally for meals, drinks, and activities compared to upscale safaris.

Payment for extras at lodges, camps, hotels, and city restaurants can be made with Visa, MasterCard, or US dollars, though American Express and Diners Club cards are generally not accepted in Africa.

Tipping Guides And Other Locals

Tipping can only be done if you like to do, as though it makes them so happy and motivated. Remember that tipping is done in cash (its mostly convenient when you give these tips in cash) Would you have any questions on details about tipping, Talk to Our Travel Experts.


What Kind Of Currency Should I Carry On An African Safari?

In Africa, US dollars are widely accepted and considered the predominant hard currency.

ATMs in East Africa and Southern Africa (excluding Zimbabwe) typically do not dispense US dollars. Outside major urban areas, ATMs are scarce due to widespread use of mobile phone banking systems. Consequently, US dollar cash is commonly accepted throughout Africa.

It’s advisable to obtain US dollar cash before departing New Zealand. When ordering, request smaller notes from the post-2013 series, suitable for tipping and small purchases during your travels. Larger US dollar notes may be challenging to break into smaller denominations while on safari of at least $10, $20.

Major credit cards such as Mastercard and Visa are convenient for restaurant meals and souvenirs in urban centers, though acceptance may vary in smaller towns and markets. Local traders often prefer US dollar cash or their respective currencies.



In Namibia, the currency is the Namibian Dollar (ND$), which is pegged 1-to-1 with the South African Rand (ZAR). While the ND$ is legal tender within Namibia, it cannot be used outside the country.

South Africa

In South Africa, it’s advisable to use the local currency, the South African Rand (ZAR), instead of US dollars. You can obtain ZAR either before departing New Zealand or from ATMs in South Africa.


In Uganda, you will always find it easy for both their currency (Uganda Shillings) and the USD. People living near the national parks like Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Murchison Falls National Park and many others, understand both currencies. You may be advised to make the exchange into the local currency right from the airport or in Kampala town as it’s the major exit town to all national parks.


    1. If you’re not visiting South Africa before traveling to Namibia, you’ll need to acquire some South African Rand (ZAR) before departing New Zealand. Alternatively, you can withdraw Namibian Dollars (ND$) from an ATM in Windhoek. Remember to utilize all your ND$ before leaving Namibia, as they hold no value outside the country.

    1. Many banks and credit card companies recommend informing them of your overseas travel plans. This precaution ensures that their credit card monitoring systems do not mistakenly suspend your card due to unusual purchases. Failing to notify them could lead to the suspension of your card, resulting in potentially embarrassing situations during your travels.

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