I had been working on a deadline that, as all deadlines do, drains one of every creative thought, energy and will, once it has been met. After the exuberance of achieving a deadline, the body just slows down as a counter-response to stress. I was so delighted to be able to spend a few days at Toka Leya, on the banks of the Zambezi River just outside Livingstone. The energy of the river is restorative and this camp is a perfect place to start or end a safari. The reason is that, as happens for most people, just before you go on a holiday there seems to be so much to do and then one has to deal with long flights, airports, queues, connections, and so it goes. At Toka Leya you don’t have to get into the usual safari-routine so it is a wonderful place to be able to re-programme to a different hemisphere and time-zone. There are many activities to entertain and keep you busy, but there is also the option of just ‘chilling out’ for a day or two to catch your breath. This is exactly what I did.
There are two things that keep me sane: one is a daily yoga regime and the other is, at a place like this, having a massage. At Toka Leya there is a spa right on the water’s edge. Miriam was my therapist and she asked if I wanted to have the glass doors closed to enjoy the cool aircon, or have them open to the sounds of the river and surrounding bush. I opted for the latter because I can have a massage in aircon with piped music at most salons, but here it was a chance to close my eyes and float away in nature. As Miriam worked her magic, I realised that my muscles were almost toxic with all the stress that had held them hostage for a month. The sound of water bubbling over rapids, birds chirping and singing in the surrounding bush, and a gentle warm breeze blowing off the Zambezi River allowed me to let go. It was blissful.
While most of us have our routine maintenance treatments with our own trusted therapists at home, here is a list of the treatments on offer at Toka Leya:
Toka Leya detox ritual (1 hour)
Milk and honey body scrub (30 minutes)
Back, neck and shoulder (30 minutes)
Hot stone (1 hour)
Toka Leya tribe full body (1 hour – this is the one I had)
Zambian ‘ukuchina’ (1 hour 20 minutes)
Soul of Africa conditioning (1 hour 20 minutes)
Relaxing foot massage (30 minutes)
Africology vitamin booster radiance (1 hour)
‘Mighty Zambezi’ rejuvenating (1 hour)
Classic manicure (45 minutes)
Repaint (15 minutes)
Classic pedicure (45 minutes)
Repaint pedi (15 minutes)
Both Mercy and Miriam are very good and will make you feel relaxed, rejuvenated and refreshed.
For the yoga part of my sanity, just alongside the spa there is a very well equipped gym with glass doors that can be opened should you wish to practice in the open. Alternatively, they can be kept closed and the aircon on so you still get the beautiful view, but you are kept cool while you work out. Of course my option is to be out in the open and as connected as possible to the river and surrounds. So each day that I was at Toka Leya I had a chance to yoga on the banks of the Zambezi River. Sometimes it worked that I did yoga in the early morning and watched the sunlight burst through the trees, over the canvas roofs, along the river and onto the deck where I was practicing. And then other times it was later where I could watch the sunset with all its colourful drama.