Toka Leya is a lodge in the small Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, some nine kilometers from Livingstone. The park is not very big, only 62km2, but nonetheless it produces a very rewarding game experience. We saw the park on two occasions, one was in February when it was lush and green and, more recently, wearing its winter colours – the browns, russets and reds of the dry months. Both times we had rewarding sightings of a big herd of buffalo as well as zebra, impala, baboon, warthog, bushbuck, giraffe, kudu and lots of birdlife. The game drives are not that long and there is no real need to get up too early to see the game as there are no predators to view on the prowl at first light.
On the same morning, we took a boat trip around the islands. The water level is dropping now so there are some areas where it is becoming shallow and impassable, but we managed to get quite far down river towards the Falls. En route we had the most glorious sighting of a herd of elephant coming down to the Zambezi waters to drink. They rattled the ilala palm trees by pushing their enormous mass against the trunk of the tree with their foreheads, shaking the tree hard until the fresh ripe fruit fell like confetti. They slurped up the fresh water from the flowing Zambezi and then dusted themselves off with rich ochre-coloured sand that billowed up into the air on the winter wind.
While we motored along on the rippling waters that were sparkling with sunlight; we came across many pods of hippo – some lolling in the water and some sunning themselves on the pristine white-bleached sandy beaches. One or two crocodiles were tucked away on island edges as we passed, under cover of the wild gardenia bushes that are now starting to flower and give off a heady perfume scent.
Back at the lodge, we met some guests who had just returned from their tour of the Victoria Falls and were about to go fishing – a great activity for those keen to test their skills with the feisty tiger fish. Other guests were involved with a myriad activities that included helicopter flights over the Falls, microlight flights, elephant-back safaris, and the activities around the Falls: bungi jumping, swing and slide and white water rafting (which includes some gorge climbing as well). Others who don’t feel the need to jump off the bridge nor chase the raging white water in a raft enjoyed a bridge tour followed by lunch at the Royal Livingstone or Royal Victoria.
There is also a nine-hole golf course or a visit to the museum of David Livingstone as well as the historical buildings in Livingstone. To round off your day, take a picnic on Livingstone Island or a canoeing trip, or even dinner on the Royal Livingstone Express, an original “puffing-Billy” steam engine.
So many options – or you could just take a boat ride from the Lodge late afternoon and enjoy the sunset with an aperitif to salute the end of another glorious day in Africa!