Outfitters informational materials and websites are usually very specific about the payment schedule for booking a trip. However, exactly what it is can very pretty widely depending on the outfitter, cost of the trip, how far in advance the trip is booked, and the customs of the continent, country or region in which your trip will take place.
Most outfitters will require a payment when the hunt is booked. This is usually in the range of 30-50% of the basic price of the hunt. All or a part of this deposit may or may not be refundable if you cancel the booking within a certain time period, but it’s based on what you’ve negotiated in the contract with the outfitter or booking agent.
On very expensive hunts that are booked up to several years in advance, there may be additional payments required along the way. On hunts less than $10,000…and booked for the season immediately ahead, payment of the rest of the price is usually do upon your arrival in camp or at the departure point where you meet the outfitter or his/her representative.
On hunts involving trophy fees such as African Safaris, the final costs of the hunt are usually figured up on the last day in camp based on what you shot during the hunt, and payment in full is made then. You should communicate ahead of time with the Professional Hunter as to what’s included and what’s not when it comes to handling your trophies, dipping and packing, taxidermy, shipping, expediting, etc. These will usually run to several thousand dollars on top of the day rate and trophy fees, and you need to be ready for them.
Most outfitters will require the final payment in the form of a cashier’s check or a money order as working with credit cards reduces by several percent what he/she will make on the hunt, and profit margins in outfitting are very thin to begin with. However, lodges and camps that operate businesses for the public like restaurants, nightly rates, etc. will often accept some credit cards. Ask that question ahead of time so you’re sure you have a card they will accept.
Tips are preferred in cash directly to the guide, camp staff, etc., but you can sometimes negotiate to include these in the payment via your check or credit card. However, if you elect to tip this way, be sure to let the individuals you’re tipping know that you’ve given the money to the outfitter.
It’s wise to plan at least an extra 10 percent on the anticipated cost of the trip for incidentals and unexpected occurrences. Take this money with you in cash or travelers checks or on a prepaid credit card. If nothing comes up, terrific, then you have the start of the fund for your next trip. But if something does come up, you won’t have to fret and worry about paying for it hundreds of miles from the nearest instant teller machine.