cheetah80

Tipping - North Pantanal

19 posts in this topic

Hi - dreaded topic I'm afraid! I was wondering what recommendations you have for tipping in the Northern Pantanal? I am seeing suggestions for $100 (yes USD) per couple per day (and that's not even the maximum) - to me that seems quite excessive, especially considering we will be there for 11 nights... any insights?

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For tipping whom, your guide? I agree that USD 100,-- is excessive, and certainly not the norm from what I could tell from other guests. (Not that the topic is often discussed.) I tipped pretty much the same as is often suggested in Africa and had the feeling that that was more than what is common. The company I went with suggested less, but then non-American companies always do.

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@@michael-ibk the $100USD for not only for the guide but also split between the drivers and staff: 40 for guide, 20 for drivers, 40 for other staff per day.

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Well, just to give some perspective my company suggested USD 100,-- for our private guide for a 12-day trip. That seemed far too low to us, especially since it was not per person but for the two of us. I have to add that the guy we booked with was almost a bit miffed when I brought that up, he maintained that he was paying his staff good wages. We didn't have drivers just our guide who acted as guide and driver. We also tipped the boat drivers at Porto Jofre and Rio Claro, depending on their efforts. And then there was a tip box a some lodges, and I believe it's expected to leave some Reais for Housemaids. But certainly we did not tip USD 100,-- per day.

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@@cheetah80

Those figures seem very high. Out tipping in September 2014 was nowhere near these levels.

In the north, our guide was also our driver and our boatman (except at Pouso Rio Claro where on 2 afternoons we used a boatman from the lodge with our guide)

but we did not tip at these levels. In the lodges there was a tip box for staff but we did not put $40 per day each in these!

 

Out of interest, the minimum wage in January 2015 Brazil (wage Floor varies in different states) was about RS800 (US$230 per month)

A survey by UBS in 2011 found average Primary Teacher salary in Sao Paulo was US$10600 (say $883 per month). So your company is suggesting a tip for 11 days work of half a teacher's salary.

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I've just returned from the Pantanal on a trip organized by a Brazilian photographer. We trusted him to suggest suitable tipping levels. For Porto Joffre we had three full days (we took a morning and an afternoon boat ride each day, choosing to take a break for the hottest period of the day when everything was very slow) and one morning. He suggested tipping 80$ per boat (there were two clients per boat) for the entire period.

 

In the lodges we stayed in he did a lot of the job usually carried out by the guide, so we merely used lodge staff as drivers (with the exception of one place where we had two extra sessions to try and see ocelots). His suggestions for tips in those places were quite low (but there were five people in our group), for example 10$ each for four days at one lodge.

 

I assume that tipping levels in a place like Porto Joffre vary vastly depending on where the guests come from, and what they consider a sensible base line. I was really happy to have a local to advise me on this. On the one hand I didn't want hard-working people to feel that they weren't appreciated, but on the other I really resent the whole `tipping fairly large amounts is expected' approach.

 

Andrea

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I think we only tipped Julhino at the end as he was our driver, boatman and guide. I think it amounted to around £40 plus a meal between us which we felt was appropriate. Personally I find the idea of $100 per day to be utterly ridiculous! To others this may be considered pocket change but It already costs me the best part of two months' wages to take a holiday like this, no small undertaking. I don't think we should feel guilty for only tipping what we feel we can afford.

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Posted (edited)

The division of the tips you reference seems off to me.

 

Quite frankly, if your guide is truly excellent and hardworking, and IF he or she is guiding you privately and working most of the day (and into the night), I think $40 USD per day per couple (if not more) sounds appropriate. After all, the difference between a good guide and a mediocre one can make or break a trip. But $20 USD per day for the drivers is about twice what we would pay, and $40 USD for miscellaneous staff sounds excessive - I would say no more than $20 USD per day per couple there.

 

I struggle with the idea of tipping only what you perceive you can afford. If your heart leads you to be overly generous, and you can afford that, then great, but I do feel that particular services have particular base values that need to be observed regardless of one's annual income. As a result, I always factor customary tips into my overall costs when evaluating the affordability of a trip. (I certainly would never dream of going to an expensive restaurant and then not tipping the standard 20-25% of the cost of the meal due to the fact that it was a special occasion and I can't afford ordinarily to dine out like that.)

 

But perhaps my view simply reflects a cultural difference, as I'm American, and service industry employees in our country are frequently not paid living wages, with the expectation that if you want to live comfortably, you have to rely on tips in return for superb customer service to round out your regular salary.

 

I like @@michael-ibk's idea of coordinating it to standard African safari guidelines. Those seem reasonable to me. And asking locals and other guests is not a bad idea -- but then we crass Americans also have no problem talking freely about money matters, either!

Edited by Alexander33
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I think culture does play a part, being British we tend to only tip in certain circumstances. IMHO tipping shouldn't be used to top up someone's wages but as a discretionary bonus for good service. If I have paid a guide his fee, he should be comfortable with that amount. Particularly if the fee is fairly high to begin with. I don't feel I should have to pay another $20 per day to top this up.

 

It also depends on the country. In India for instance tipping is expected but you know that the driver and guide are paid poorly.

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Posted (edited)

Frankly, this whole tipping syndrome has gone to such an extent that it has become ridiculous. In the US, for example, if you don't tip the cab driver at least 15% of the fare, you could hear a grumble. In most high end restaurants in India, they levy a "service charge" which goes up to 25%. This charge is for the service one gets. There are people who tip in addition to this levy and with the passage of time, the mandatory service charge has become a part of the expense and a further 20% is expected. On a recent visit to Hawaii, we had to follow others in tipping the cook who was in the live counter cooking eggs made to order, in the breakfast buffet. so we tip in the morning breakfast, the evening drinks, the lunch and dinner specials ( vegetarian), the guide, driver, tracker, housemaid/butler ( for her/his service in tucking a hot water bottle between the covers), common tips at check out. What next?

I have also heard that in popular restaurants, the management underpays its staff, since they would be able to earn by the sizeable tips that the patrons give. Where are the minimum wages act enforcers?

 

While culture plays a big role and can swing from one end of the spectrum to the other (US to Japan) as far as tipping is concerned, my view is that "tipping" by its very definition, has to be discretionary and for value of services rendered. I wonder what we would do if we had a great waiter at a restaurant, but bad food? Would we still tip the waiter handsomely?

But back to the point under reference, US$ 100 is way too high. Unless the management of the lodge is insistent that common tipping for all staff be done, if at all the guest is desirous; i would think that we must tip individually, particularly to people who we associate with for a sizeable part of our stay or for the main purpose.

Edited by Earthian
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Thank you all for your insights and information - it was very helpful and I will revise the planned tips accordingly.

 

I think it is very important to get the tipping right - both over and under-tipping is bad (except the case where the service was not good - in which case I believe the tip should reflect that!). Overall I think the current tipping culture for anything wildlife related is ridiculous - lots of money is paid to a company and then the staff and guides are underpaid? What is with that? This is not fair to the workers or the clients. Oh well ...

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@@Earthian, totally agree with you, this tipping thing is getting out of line in many places, I just came back from Japan where tips just don´t exist, that was great, and in July I went to USA and the taxi driver in Miami didn´t even salute me when I left because the tip was just over 10%, in that case it was clearly too much....

 

In Pantanal I don´t remember tipping, my guide was great but he was the company owner, I paid the price he asked for the service and I don´t think there´s logic in tipping in that particular circunstance.

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I think you've left already so this is a little late. We returned today from the Pantanal. We followed the same suggested tipping guidelines as for Africa; $10 per day per person for the guide. We actually threw in a bit more for our Pantanal guide because he also served as our boatman and worked tremendously hard. And we liked him a lot! And even though he is the owner of the company I do believe a tip is still appreciated and deserved. (In the past I used to feel that company owners who serve as guides shouldn't be tipped, but there was a big discussion about this once on a birding forum in the end I have decided that a tip is still warranted; but that's another whole can of worms.)

 

We tipped the same for our guide at Cristalino Lodge in the Amazon. There, we also tipped the boatman $5 per day (unlike in the Pantanal, he was not driving us all morning/afternoon, but only short distances to trails and to/from the lodge.)

 

In hotels there were tip boxes for staff and again, we tipped what we would have in Africa.

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Thank you all for these posts. I'm researching a trip for 2017 and already booked. Honestly, just trying to estimate costs and I have to say that tipping is one topic I absolutely hate. I almost wish they would just include it in the price of the tour so I don't have to worry about it! Also, it's been my experience that most only expect tips from people from the USA which I find to be outrageous. I work hard for my money and I don't have unlimited resources. I feel bad already - do they are really expect $100/day in the pantanal? LOL - I only budgeted $200 for tips for my entire trip there (9 days!) - so now I feel very guilty. In all fairness, my tour is quite expensive (more than an African safari staying in mid-range lodges) so I'm hoping the tour owner does pay well as I honestly can't afford to make up the difference. The last post on this topic was 2015. Has anyone been there more recently and experienced the expected tipping? I'm very worried now because my funds are tight! I really do want to tip if I have an amazing tour, but there is no way I can afford $100/day even for all tips combined.

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@@CarrieT, I was in the Pantanal in Sept. I felt no pressure to tip at all. So, it appears to be completely optional. Between Pouso Alegre, Hotel Pantanal Norte, and Barranco Alto only Barranco Alto had a box for tips.

 

I reread this thread and feel maybe we over tipped a bit, but I did have R$ to get rid of :) .

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Posted (edited)

Please stop over-tipping!

You destroy for everybody else. Including the people you tip.
In Bhutan it has got too big proportions and now some companys only take American customers just because they tip more than others... Sick!

People tip more than a salary for the specific countrys president for god sakes. Which is really, really bad for development in a society.

Of course you can´t pay 100USD per day in tipping. It´s insane.

Put the money to an extra ordinary day instead.

 

Do I need to tell you that I very rarely tip at all :)

 

My opinion.

Edited by Antee
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@@CarrieT

 

@Antee makes a very valid point; I think the tipping culture in the country that a traveller comes from, has more influence on whether they tip and how much they do, than the culture in the country that they’re visiting does. People from countries where tipping is not really part of the culture don’t entirely understand tipping and people from countries where it is almost obligatory like the US don’t understand not tipping. The result is confusion people tip when they shouldn’t and don’t tip when perhaps they should. My impression of the States which may not be entirely accurate is you tip anyone and everyone and if it wasn't enough they’ll be sure to let you know. If people do expect bigger tips from US travellers, it is because too many such travellers have unfortunately exported this culture of overgenerous tipping to other countries, regardless of what the local custom on tipping is or was.

In the UK it is customary to tip in restaurants, hairdressers and taxis but not really at all otherwise. Even if we don’t quite have the tipping culture the US has, there is a tendency to just think that because you tipped everyone in the last country you went to, you should tip everyone in the next one without first checking what the culture actually is. In Singapore I believe tipping is actually illegal. I’ve not been to Japan which was mentioned earlier, but there it is generally seen as an insult to tip, why should you reward someone just for doing the job that they’ve already been paid to do.

 

As far as I’m concerned how much you tip if at all is a matter of personal choice you shouldn’t be made to feel you have to give more than you can afford. I also feel that if your guide book says do not tip because it's not part of their culture then you should not tip regardless of what you would do at home or the fact that you once worked as an impoverished waiter and relied on tips to get by.

 

If you do want to tip in Brazil, then on my recent trip we worked on the rough basis of $10 per person per day for guides and drivers and a bit less for hotel staff and the like which usually goes in a tip box. Unless your guide or someone else has given you exceptional service and really has gone above and beyond, I can see no reason to give them more. Giving overgenerous tips just makes it more difficult for the tourists who come after who can’t afford to tip so generously.

 

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We were in Brazil, including the Pantanal, in July and never felt any pressure to tip. As an American, I disagree with the notion that we tip for anything and everything. That is not the case, from my perspective. While the culture in our country is to tip more frequently and generously than, obviously, others feel is called for, we are well aware of the cultural difference and are cognizant of that when traveling. We did tip in the Pantanal, but it was closer to $30USD a day for all staff, not $100USD.

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@@CarrieT

Do not worry or feel guitly -$100 a day is way to much. (in my opinion)

(I think the average salary of a teacher in Brazil is less than $1000 per month. In January, the minimum wage for Brazil was increased to $228. Very large tips distort the economy and attract educated people away from other important jobs)

We tipped our guide, and put some in a staff tip-box (if there was one - many hotels do not have them). Our figures were similar to @Alexander33 and @@inyathi. But tip what you can afford if you want to.

 

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