When planning your safari, you’ll want to figure out how much U.S. money to bring and devise a strategy for handling foreign currency.
Before you travel, contact your credit card company and let them know that you will be visiting Africa. This pro tip will save you the potential frustration and headaches that might arise should your credit card company deny transactions based on unusual charges. It would also behoove you to ask if your company charges a transaction fee for each international charge so you know exactly which card to use.
If your safari is a packaged tour that’s paid for in advance, you will likely only need money for personal purchases and gratuities. However, if you’re taking a self-driving tour, you should plan on bringing more money to Africa. Another consideration for self-driving tours is that it’s customary to be paid in the local currency in many places.
To ensure that you can withdraw and change money where you can, play it safe by bringing some cash to exchange for local currency at your destination’s airport. This would also be a good time to withdraw cash from the airport’s ATM since it may be hard to find another ATM during your safari adventure.
Places throughout South Africa and East Africa generally accept credit cards including MasterCard, Visa, and less prominently, American Express. You should also call in advance to make sure your preferred credit card is accepted at your lodge, especially if you’re headed to safari lodges situated in more remote areas.
U.S. cash is the best method for tipping safari guides and accommodation staff. Try to bring a nice mixture of small denominations, i.e., $US1, $US5, and $US10, to simplify the tipping process. Take note that some African countries do not accept U.S. bills that are dated before the year 2000.