Located on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River is Wilderness Toka Leya, a brilliant, sustainable safari camp that really walks the walk when it comes to sustainability. Hannah Tan-Gillies went to discover if life by the river really is oh so sweet.

Wilderness is a safari company with a strong focus on conservation, understanding that without the magnificent animals and rich natural landscapes of the bush that there would be no such thing as safari. For Wilderness, conservation, sustainability and giving back to the communities in which it operates is part and parcel of business – and that is something that we can certainly get behind.

All Wilderness camps try their utmost to minimise their footprint on the environment and also go above and beyond to give back through reforestation and various community initiatives. For example, Wilderness Toka Leya is part of the ‘Children of the Wilderness’ programme which provides impoverished children in remote villages in Africa the chance to have a good education. Through this programme, the children are invited as guests to the camps – where they can learn about conservation, wildlife and sustainability.

Wilderness Toka Leya is one of the more upmarket camps in the Wilderness portfolio. You make your way to the camp via a short boat ride on the Zambezi and onto the camp’s beach (watch out for crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks) Here, where you are greeted with a welcome drink and plenty of smiles.

Wilderness Toka Leya is centred around an airy lounge that blends indoor and outdoor spaces. The outdoor dining area is shaded by a giant tree and overlooks the Zambezi River. Watch out for some cheeky blue velvet monkeys who have the tendency to grab a bit of your dinner if the mood dictates.

There is also a gorgeous pool, viewing deck and a small gym that offers breath-taking riverside views. Believe us, you will fall under Toka Leya’s spell from the moment you check-in.

Upon check-in you have a quick introduction to the camp’s rule sand your guide. Rule number 1 don’t walk beyond the boardwalks as the camp is surrounded by plenty of wild animals. Rule number 2 don’t walk alone on the boardwalks at night (a guide must be with you at all times) and Rule number 3, respect the animals and guides during your game drives – all essential information when going on any sort of safari. During our stay, a whole family or wild boars crossed the path, and a few crocs were seen just by the riverbed – so sticking to the rules is a must. Your guide will then make a bespoke plan for you – which usually involves a morning game drive and an afternoon sunset cruise.

Wilderness Toka Leya is located in the wonderful Mosi-o-Tunya National Park, which doesn’t have any big cats or predators. This means you’ll be able to see plenty of zebras, wildebeest, giraffes, baboons (hundreds everywhere), elephants and even White Rhinos. Guests at Toka Leya can go on Rhino Walks guided by local rangers, who monitor them 24/7 – it is truly a rarefied experience giving you an up close and personal look at these endangered animals.

Thanks to its location in Livingstone, Wilderness Toka Leya is also close to other cultural attractions too like the Victoria Falls and Livingstone Museum, meaning there’s plenty to do beyond the bush. You can even go white water rafting or fishing if you so desire.

Wilderness Toka Leya supports a local Sinde Village – and guests can also visit the village to meet the locals. During our visit, we learned that Wilderness helped the villagers with electricity, running water and other outreach projects – once again staying true to its commitment to give back.

There are 12 luxurious tents in the Wilderness Toka Leya Camp. The tents are air conditioned (most safari tents are not) and so this is a real treat, particularly when the African sun hits the hardest during the early afternoons. Here, you will find an indoor and outdoor shower, a large king-sized bed, luxury amenities and plenty of romance. There is nothing better than waking up and hearing the roaring waves of the Mighty Zambezi right outside your doorstep. Wilderness Toka Leya is a truly magical place, in a world where so few still genuinely are. It is also run by a company that’s genuinely one of the good guys, committed to keeping Mosi-o-Tunya a magical place in the years to come

Factbox: Nightly rates at Toka Leya start from $USD 750 per person sharing; www.wildernessdestinations.com

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