... you are greeted at the raised reception area…
Toka Leya Camp: Our full report
The brand new Toka Leya Camp opened in May 2008 – and it's beautiful!
Toka Leya Camp is named after the local Toka Leya people, who inhabited this area near Livingstone for centuries even before David Livingstone arrived here. It's been built and run by Wilderness Safaris, who are also responsible for the marketing and running of The River Club – a little further upstream.
Toka Leya Camp is located in the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park in an excellent location right beside the Zambezi River, about 6km upstream from the Victoria Falls (or 12km by road).
Toka Leya has 12 spacious safari-style tents - comprising of nine twin/double rooms and three family rooms. All the tents are raised on wooden decks and have beautiful views over the Zambezi River.
Each tent at Toka Leya has a large deck out front which leads into, through large glass sliding doors, a stylish air-conditioned open-plan lounge area and bedroom. The lounge comprises of two brown leather high-back chairs, a wooden table, desk and an enormous free-standing fan. Directly behind the lounge is the bedroom – with either twin or double four-poster beds, complete with crisp white linen, down duvets and mosquito nets.
The bathroom is separated from the bedroom by a wall faced in wooden tiles (inventive and very effective!). Each has twin basins with two large mirrors, a separate toilet, and an indoor and outdoor shower. Complimentary soaps, shampoo, body lotion, insect repellents and washing power (for underwear) are provided.
Toka Leya's family tents are exactly the same as the twin/double tents, but they have an extra bedroom at the back of the tent. The second bedroom is also air-conditioned, and has twin four-poster beds with mosquito nets.
The camp's tents are beautifully decorated and very comfortable, but on a negative side, some of Toka Leya's tents are quite open and don't have much privacy from the neighbouring tents. They're trying to resolve the problem by planting plenty of trees between the tents, but in the meantime, bear in mind, that you may be able to see your neighbours.
Toka Leya's main area has been built under a canopy of trees right beside the main channel of the Zambezi River. It's raised on a wooden deck which offers beautiful views over some small rapids - and when the river is in full flood (around March to May, depending on the rains) the water actually flows underneath the deck.
The large open-plan lounge and dining room is set beneath an enormous canvas roof, and has open sides and front to maximise the views. The wall at the back of the living area is a real feature. It's made of small “log tiles" which gives the room a very natural feel.
The lounge at Toka Leya has been built around a large Sausage Tree. It's beautifully decorated in contemporary earthy tones with touches of African artifacts. There are three separate seating areas, with coir carpets over the teak floors, and comfy sofas and chairs.
Toka Leya's dining room is partly separated from the lounge by a carved wooden screen. There are individual dark wood tables - which can be joined together for group meals, and comfortable suede high-back chairs. Then, to the right of the dining room stands Toka Leya's fabulous pizza oven!
In front of the lounge and dining room, on a separate teak deck and on a slightly lower level, is an outside verandah and bar area. The sun deck has been built around a shady Faidherbia albida which is entwined by a strangler fig. Afternoon tea is often served here. To the right of the deck, lies the bar area which is also under a large canvas roof. There's a well stocked bar… which even has a cappuccino machine!
Just to the right of Toka Leya's bar, is an infinity pool overlooking the Zambezi. There are sun-loungers and large umbrellas – so it's an ideal spot for relaxing!
Toka Leya's spa has a wonderful location, right on the water's edge, with beautiful views of the river. The spa has two treatment rooms and offer massages, manicures and pedicures.
Beneath the lounge, on the sandy river bank, is a lovely fire pit area. The fire is lit in the evenings, and guests can move down from the dinner table with their drinks to do some star gazing.
A lot of hard work has gone into the building and finishing of Toka Leya Camp. All the handrails have been wrapped in rope to give it a softer look – a tedious job, but well worth the end result. Little lights have been cleverly set into the wooden walkways to subtly light the paths at night. Tree stumps have been sandpapered and levelled off to make drinks tables, and the basins in the guests' toilets are carved from wood. There are also many artefacts displayed in the main area which have been made by the staff and the locals – my favourite were the two crystal chandeliers in the lounge and dining room.
Toka Leya's rates include all meals, local drinks, laundry, and two activities a day - which include a river cruise on their boats, a game drive into the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park, a tour to the Zambian side of the Falls, a tour of Livingstone town and Museum, and a visit to a nearby village and local curio shops. The lodge is happy to arrange any other activities in Livingstone that you may wish to partake in, such as white water rafting, bungee jumping, microlight flights etc.
Our viewWe feel that Toka Leya Camp is a very good accommodation choice in Livingstone. It's a beautiful camp with a superb location in the heart of Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park, and it's very well run. Toka Leya's food is excellent and we enjoyed the activities. Nothing was too much trouble for the staff and they certainly went the extra mile to make our stay memorable. They even went as far as to take us shopping in Livingstone when our luggage didn't arrive on the same flight as us!
It's also a good camp for children over six years old as they have three family tents – in a town where family rooms are something of a rarity.
Ideal length of stay: Two or three nights – depending on how many activities you want to participate in.
Directions: Fly from Johannesburg or Lusaka on a scheduled flight into Livingstone airport. Or transfer from Kasane by road/boat or light aircraft, across to Livingstone. The road transfer from Livingstone airport to Toka Leya is approximately 15 minutes.
Owner: Wilderness Safaris
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: At Toka Leya Camp, you'll be woken just before sunrise (if you choose to partake in an early morning activity) with tea and coffee delivered to your room. This is accompanied by a snack; on our first morning we had freshly baked biscuits, and our second morning we had baby pancakes with sliced banana toppings.
Breakfast is served in the dining room and is a buffet of fresh fruit or fruit salad, yoghurt, cereal, toast and pastries. If that's not enough, then there's also a full English breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms etc on offer.
Lunch is a casual affair. We missed it on our first day because we arrived late from shopping in Livingstone. However, high tea was waiting – so we didn't go hungry!
An a la carte menu is in place for lunches and offers a variety of dishes to suite all tastes and levels of appetite.
On our second day, lunch was freshly baked pizzas – in Toka Leya's brick pizza oven. Our chef prepared the pizza, with our choice of toppings, and it was served straight from the pizza oven.
High tea is served at around 4pm, before the afternoon activity. There was a choice of something savoury or sweet; we enjoyed chicken and vegetable wraps, and then a freshly-baked chocolate cake, on our first day.
Dinners can be eaten as a group or privately. On our first night, we chose to dine with the rest of the guests – as it's a great way to get to know everyone, and hear some fascinating stories. We were treated to a three-course meal: vegetable philo pastry parcels for starters, and a choice of two main courses – either beef fillet, or fish of the day (Hake,) which was accompanied by vegetables, baby potatoes or couscous. This was followed by a dark, rich, chocolate tart for dessert.
On our second night, we were treated to a private dinner on our deck – well, it was our honeymoon at the time!!
In short, we were impressed by the food at Toka Leya, and every meal we had at the camp was delicious!
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Local branded drinks are included in the rates (including house wines, local beers, soft drinks and water). Premium drinks are excluded.
Family holidays: Toka Leya has inter-leading rooms for Zambia family safari holidays with up to two children 6+. Children might like the camp’s interactive drumming evenings with local bands, 4WD drives, river cruises, trips to the Victoria Falls, Livingstone and the nearby village, or campfires at night.See more ideas for Family holidays in Zambia
Honeymoons: Toka Leya is very romantic and elegant with beautiful views over the Zambezi River. Whilst they don't have a named 'honeymoon tent', honeymooners can have a double four-poster bed. Private meals can be arranged, and thoughtful touches make for a memorable honeymoon. There is also a spa - right on the river.See more ideas for Honeymoons in Zambia
Attitude towards children: Children over the age of six years are welcome at Toka Leya.
Special activities & services: 2 - 3 times per week Toka Leya have an African drumming band that does interactive drumming with guests. The camp have a number of bongo drums and various other African musical instruments such as cow bells and shakers. It's a fun-filled evening and everyone has the opportunity to beat a drum and 'make music.'
Equipment: No special equipment is provided.
Generally recommended for children: Yes – although Livingstone is a malaria area.
Notes: Toka Leya is situated within the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park. Whilst there are no predators in the park, elephants do walk through the camp – on their way to drink at the river.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: Toka Leya offers a wireless internet facility, which is available for guests to use at the guest liaison desk. However, they try to limit this to urgent use only - although the facility is there. There is mobile reception, but the camp prefers guests to use their mobile phones in the privacy of their rooms; to avoid disturbing other guests.
TV & radio: There are no televisions or radios here.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The closest doctor is in Livingstone – 20 minutes' drive away. Some of the staff are first-aid trained.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Guests are escorted to their rooms at night as Toka Leya is within a national park. Night watchmen are on duty at night, and emergency horns are provided in every tent.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all the tents and the main areas.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included.
Money: Toka Leya accepts US$, Pounds Sterling, Euros and South African Rands. No exchange facilities are offered. There are no safes in the rooms. Guests are given large brown envelopes which they may put their valuables in, seal them, and hand to management for safekeeping.
Accepted payment on location: Mastercard and Visa credit cards are accepted. Diners Club and Amex are not accepted. There is a credit card charge of 5%.