Anyone who has visited Uganda before will agree that gorilla trekking is the most adventurous activity and reason why tourists flock this East African country. It is very obvious that no safari experience can surpass the feeling of meeting face to face with the Giant Apes in the jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks, and due to the need of achieving the best out of the trip, websites will update tourists on the appropriate ways to dress during the trip, best time to visit the country, how to book a gorilla safari as well as information regarding the mountain gorillas-how they feed, reproduce and general behavior but few people say anything about tipping advise on gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda yet it’s also paramount.
Nonetheless, it is not always mandatory to tip someone while on a gorilla safari in Uganda but it is important and goes a long way in the life of an ordinary Ugandan. There is no crime in appreciating a good service that you enjoyed or contributed to a successful gorilla safari. Therefore, you can tip the Park rangers, driver guides, porters (who carry your backpack during hiking in the jungles in search of the mountain gorillas) and employees in Safari lodges, Hotels, restaurants and bars and believe you me, you will leave smiles and create a big impact in someone’s life.
Surprisingly, tipping is not part of Ugandan culture but the habit has continuously become very important in the tourism industry and any safari without tips is always disappointing for driver guides, hoteliers or park guides. Some people would be wondering why it is necessary to tip someone yet they are paid to do what they do. Sadly, most of the service providers you will encounter in Uganda earn meager salaries and what you see as pittance can actually create a difference but most importantly motivate the service provider to go an extra mile in making you happy like cleaning your muddy shoes or offering to lift your backpack after the trek even without requesting. Hiring a porter to carry your backpack is important because these people are former poachers and are familiar with the Park as well as its terrain, thus you won’t find difficulty hiking through the jungles where mountain gorillas are found.
Tipping in Hotels and Safari Lodges is usually done through a Central tipping box so that staff who worked that day can share the money but you can also tip the person that served you directly. Much as most tourists always ask about whether to tip or not, how much to offer as tips, this choice always depends on the visitor because the individual can judge the quality of service he/she has received and tip accordingly. When it comes to what currency to tip, the choice doesn’t matter but the local currency (Ugandan shillings) is recommended because it saves the person from the hassle of exchanging, the fact that there are no or few Foreign Exchange Bureaus within the Conservation Areas.
With the above discussion therefore, tipping during a gorilla trekking safari is not compulsory but as a way of appreciating the services of porters, driver guides and waiters/waitresses/bar tenders, it is important to tip them because it’s also a way of supporting local community members, hence improving their standard of living.