... you are greeted at the raised reception area…
Toka Leya Camp: Our full report
Set within the small Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, some 5km from Livingstone, Toka Leya is a luxury lodge operated by Wilderness Safaris. Named after the Toka Leya people, who inhabited the area around Livingstone centauries before David Livingstone arrived, the lodge is perched on the banks of the Zambezi River upstream from the Falls.
Tokay Leya has 12 spacious safari-style tents, each constructed from green canvas and natural wood decking, raised high up on decks. Large glass sliding doors lend a modern, stylish design element to the rooms while allowing beautiful views over the Zambezi River. Each tent also has a large wooden deck to the front with a sunken seating area, furnished with wicker armchairs and sunloungers.
Nine of the tents are double/twin rooms, while the remaining three are family rooms. All are air-conditioned with an open-plan lounge and bedroom. The lounge is furnished with two brown leather high-back chairs, a wooden table and desk, with Persian style rugs and bright lamps adding colour to the otherwise natural décor. 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, sharing the same bathroom. This 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 them are quite open and don't have much privacy from the neighbouring tents. To resolve the problem, Toka Leya has planted trees between the tents, but until they start to mature, you may be able to see your neighbours.
Toka Leya's main areahas been built under a canopy of trees right beside the main channel of the Zambezi River. It's raised on a wooden deck, and is reached from the rooms by a raised wooden walkway, 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 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 give the room a very natural feel.
The lounge 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.
Partly separated from the lounge by a carved wooden screen, the dining room has 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.
Nearer to the river, on a slightly lower teak deck, is an outside veranda and bar area. Afternoon tea is often served on the sundeck, which is set around a shady Faidherbia albida entwined by a strangler fig. A canvas roof covers the bar area, which even has a cappuccino machine!
Close by, Toka Leya has an infinity pool overlooking the Zambezi. There are sunloungers and large umbrellas – so it's an ideal spot for relaxing.
Then right on the water’s edge you’ll find Toka Leya's spa and air-conditioned gym, both in wonderful locations 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, and the service is excellent. 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 that 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. These can be selected from a river cruise on one of their own 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 also happy to arrange any other activities in Livingstone, such as white-water rafting, bungee jumping, microlight flights etc.
Our viewWith fantastic food and top service, we feel that Toka Leya Camp is a great luxury accommodation choice in the Livingstone area. Its location within the national park, tented rooms and fully inclusive rates lend the property the feeling of a very high-end safari camp. Toka Leya has a wonderfully peaceful location on the river, but it remains a very convenient distance from Livingstone for visiting the Victoria Falls.
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 by light aircraft to Livingstone. The road transfer from Livingstone Airport to Toka Leya takes approximately 15 minutes.
Accessible by: Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Wilderness Safaris
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: We’ve been impressed by the food at Toka Leya on each of our visits, and every meal we’ve had at the camp has been delicious.
If you choose to partake in an early morning activity, you'll be woken just before sunrise with tea or coffee delivered to your room. This is accompanied by a snack; on previous visits we’ve had freshly baked biscuits, and baby pancakes with sliced banana toppings.
Breakfast 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 one stay we enjoyed a superb two-egg, ham and cheese omelette.
For lunch there’s an à la carte menu offering a variety of dishes. On our last visit in June 2015 we treated ourselves to a freshly baked pizza, served straight from the brick pizza oven.
High tea, with both a savoury and a sweet choice, is served at around 4.00pm, before the afternoon activity. In the past we’ve enjoyed chicken and vegetable wraps, and then a freshly baked chocolate cake.
Dinners is a three-course meal, and can be eaten as a group or privately. On a previous visit we were treated to vegetable filo 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, and baby potatoes or couscous. This was followed by a dark, rich, chocolate tart for dessert.
Dining style: Mixture of group dining and individual tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Local branded drinks (including house wines, local beers, soft drinks and water) are included in the rates, but premium drinks are not.
Further dining info: Private meals can be requested in your room.
Family holidays: With several inter-leading rooms, Toka Leya is a great camp for family holidays to Zambia. Children might enjoy the camp's interactive drumming evenings with local bands, as well as river cruises, campfires at night, and trips to the Victoria Falls and the nearby village.See more ideas for Family holidays in Zambia
Attitude towards children: Children over the age of six years are welcome at Toka Leya.
Property’s age restrictions: Minimum age six years.
Special activities & services: Two or three times a week Toka Leya hosts an African drumming band that does interactive drumming with the guests. The camp’s bongo drums and other African musical instruments such as cow bells and shakers help to make this a fun-filled evening, when everyone has the opportunity to join in.
Equipment: No special equipment is provided.
Generally recommended for children: Yes – for children aged six and up.
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
Power supply notes: The camp has a back-up generator in case of power cuts.
Communications: The WiFi facility at Toka Leya is available for guests to use at the guest liaison desk, but they try to limit this to urgent use only. There is cellphone reception, but the camp prefers guests to use their phones only 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, about 20 minutes' drive away. Some of the staff are first-aid trained.
Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk
Security measures: Guests are escorted to their rooms at night as Toka Leya is within a national park. Nightwatchmen are on duty, and horns are provided in every tent to attract attention in case of emergency.
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: No exchange facilities are offered. There are no safes in the tents. 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, subject to a surcharge of 5%, but Diners Club and Amex are not. Cash payments may be made in US dollars, South African rand, pounds sterling, euros and Zambian kwacha.