Safari Holiday Money Matters
Money Matters on Safari Holidays
Welcome to our most important page – money matters. This page is dedicated to money and value. Your holiday budget is your money and it is precious, so allow us to ease your mind, better prepare you and save you a few dollars in the process.
Here at Encompass Africa, we respect the importance of a great holiday and know the costs involved. Being a significant ‘investment’ you will absolutely expect a decent return by way of exceptional safari holiday experiences shared with loved ones.
Safari holidays are certainly not cheap and even before you get there, it’s a few thousand dollars in airfares. So when it comes to the land arrangements, it’s important to know your budget and share that detail with us from the start because it saves heart ache later. Remember the mantra quality over quantity? It is never more appropriate than a holiday to Africa. We don’t try to pack in more than you can physically enjoy in a determined period of time, nor do we bundle you into buses.
We have a saying here – no brochures (that’s bad for the environment and also commits us to things that may change soon after and no longer be the best value), no buses and no bull.
We value transparency, honesty and unbiased professional opinion. Do you?
You will never pay more than you should booking with Encompass Africa. Our long-standing relationships with camp owners and safari operators in Africa means our rates are better than if you booked direct. Plus we earn our keep from our partners, so the expert advice and product knowledge you receive comes completely free of charge. So here at Encompass Africa we do have fantastic rates with our partners and pass these on to you for wonderful value safari holidays.
What currency is king?
The majority of safari countries operate on or can accept the US dollar. The two exceptions are South Africa and Namibia, both of which have Rand based currencies.
The lion’s share (pardon the pun) of our guests are from Australia, where our head office is based and so we predominantly invoice in Australian dollars, locking in the exchange rate at the time of your booking. This means you won’t pay more if the Australian dollar loses value.
Due to an increase in guests based in America, Canada and South America, we are able to invoice in US dollars if you prefer.
Safari holiday payment plan
Once you are happy with arrangements, we prepare paperwork and send it over along with the deposit invoice for 30% of land arrangements and 100% of any airfares we book on your behalf. This secures all of your safari holiday arrangements. From here, you can choose to pay off the holiday over time and we keep track on your invoice, updating it with each payment accordingly. Alternatively, you can choose to pay one final balance that is due 60 days prior to your departure.
Safari holiday payments can be made by direct debit or credit card. Cash and cheque can be accepted with prior notice given.
If it’s a honeymoon, we can also set up a Bridal Register for guests to make contributions and we’ll organise lovely surprises for you along the way!
Preparing for departure
Remember to advise your bank that you will be travelling in Africa. It is important you provide exact dates and each country you will be visiting. This enables banks to monitor transactions and if there is suspicious activity outside your dates and countries visited, they will then suspend your account.
It is important to always have options for money access while travelling. You will want to have some cash incase your card gets lost or suspended by the bank. We always carry cash and two different cards, one being a travel card with a small amount of funds rather than our usual ‘savings’ account.
Safari holiday spending money
Safari holidays are often fully inclusive or full board with just a few meals required (city stays when you are on a bed and breakfast rate), shopping, tipping, premium drinks and extra activities. Other costs to factor in are visa fees that are payable on arrival and in local currency (note credit cards are not usually accepted at immigration points).
Rather than waiting until the last moment to get your spending money for the safari, why not watch the exchange rates? When the Australian dollar is really strong against the US dollar or Rand, that’s the time to buy so you have more spending money in the local currencies.
How to carry money while in Africa
When you are exploring Africa on safari, it’s worth carrying money with you to cover costs like visas, tipping, extra activities, drinks and anything not included. We recommend you keep the money with you and carry it out of sight in a secure bag or hidden pocket. Don’t have your credit card in your back pocket!
There are also other ways to have access to money whilst on your safari holiday.
Travel cards are prepaid debit cards designed for travel and foreign transactions. You can use these cards to lock in exchange rates and load several international currencies to avoid foreign transaction fees when you spend overseas.
The benefits are multiple currencies and locked in exchange rates. Do keep in mind fees that are charged (they vary), ATM withdrawal limits and currencies (not all cards accept Rand).
Credit cards are easy because most people already have them in their wallets. There are things to keep in mind when travelling. Does the credit card charge currency conversion fees, foreign transaction fees or the overseas ATM withdrawal fees? The benefits of access to credit, earning rewards and extra perks that come with some cards (like complimentary overseas travel insurance, purchase protection and concierge services).
Travel debit cards allow you to draw funds from a savings account and again it is important to know your bank rules and whether withdrawal fees and currency conversion fees apply.
For any card linked to a bank, please read to see what the card fraud protection is. Many providers offer it against fraudulent transactions made on the account so long as you follow their process and requirements.
Cash and Foreign Exchange
It is still commonplace for people to utilise foreign exchange offices and simply covert their dollars into local currency. In Africa this is possible at airports and cities, just keep in mind opening hours can vary, availability of foreign exchange offices in regional areas is limited and rates may not be the best plus there will be transfer fees charged. Equally important to know is if you are sourcing local currency other than US dollars or Rand (for instance Botswana Pula), you need to exchange it back into dollars before departing the country because this service may not be available elsewhere or back at home. We don’t want you ending up with hundreds of dollars worth of Botswana Pula or Tanzanian Shillings.
Tipping in Africa
One of the most commonly asked questions is tipping. Tipping is not officially compulsory. Having said that, it has certainly become commonplace and expected in the service industry of Africa and the world.
We provide guests with a tipping guide, an indication of what may be required throughout their African safari holiday. We are not experts at tipping because it comes from the heart when we travel – make sure you allow enough money to cover your preferred style of tipping.
Tips for tipping
- Prepare for it, sometimes people get upset that they spend a few hundred dollars on tipping because they didn’t ‘think’ about it before hand
- Have ample small denomination notes in local currency for drivers, concierge and smaller services provided
- If you don’t like handing over money, buy little envelopes so you can tuck the money inside and write a little personal note on the front
- Ask Managers at properties how tips are dispersed because it may be best to put your tip into a box that is then distributed evenly so nobody is missed
- Africans are proud people. Make eye contact when you hand over your tip, shake hands and thank them for their help or service. The smile will reward you ten fold.