Did you know?
In Alan Paton's book, Cry the Beloved Country, the story begins with the words: 'There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills....'
The Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal is situated in a beautiful area overlooking the Umkomaas River's scenic valleys and gorges.
The centre has become a favourite amongst local spirit-seekers and international travellers alike. It's open to practising Buddhists, wannabe-Buddhists and anyone with a need to get away from it all and take the time and space to contemplate life.
In South Africa, Buddhist centres are far and few between and The Buddhist Retreat Centre has a wonderful reputation as being the ultimate 'get-away-from-it-all' space.
Both conducted retreats and self retreats are on offer. The conducted-retreat programme is a busy one and there is something for everyone (there is even a family-based retreat).
Choose from photography master classes or Tai Chi workshops, courses in the fundamentals of Buddhism and meditation, or art and creativity courses.
The self-retreats are perfect for those who prefer to find their own path and you can do as much or as little as you like in terms of activity. Many attendees prefer to take a vow of silence during this time in order to get in touch with their inner-self.
Accommodation at this KwaZulu-Natal Buddhist centre is simple, yet comfortable – there are single and twin-bedded rooms along with family-style cottages, and at any one time a maximum of thirty-eight people can stay over at the retreat.
Delicious lacto-ovo, organic meals are on the menu. There are great walks on offer in the surrounding area, or you could meditate in the gardens or shop for Buddhist memorabilia at the Dharma Shoppe.
The Buddhist Retreat Centre is a magnificent place to unwind, reconnect with yourself and nature and take serious time to pause, reflect and breathe in the fresh country air.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
The Buddhist Retreat Centre, Ixopo
Tel: +27 (0)39 834 1863
Cell: +27 (0)82 579 3037
How to get here
The Buddhist Retreat Centre is found off District Road D64 which branches off the R56 between Pietermaritzburg and Ixopo. For detailed directions and a map, please visit the website.
Best time to visit
Anytime is a good time to visit – it just depends on what is happening on the retreat calendar. For the more popular workshops one must book in advance.
Around the area
There are some terrific hikes in this beautiful part of the world.
Self-drive is always the best option.
What will it cost
Workshops and retreats vary in price.
Length of stay
Weekend retreats and four-day retreats are generally the most popular, however some workshops last between seven to nine days.
Where to stay
Accommodation at The Buddhist Retreat Centre is varied, you can stay in single or twin-bedded rooms, mountain kuti’s, bungalows or chalets.
What to eat
A lacto-ovo vegetarian menu is available – meals are made using the freshest ingredients and the local mantra here is 'organic, organic, organic'.
The Buddhist Retreat Centre's best-selling cookbook, Quiet Food, as well as The Cake the Buddha Ate. Both available through Jacana publishers and at good bookstores throughout South Africa.