Sacred journeys in KwaZulu-Natal
Did you know?
The Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo has published a book of vegetarian recipes called The Cake the Buddha Ate.
Spiritual tourism is growing worldwide, and KwaZulu-Natal certainly has a lot to offer soul searchers. Whatever your choice, you are in for an uplifting experience as you travel through spectacular scenery, from the balmy coastline to the mountainous interior.
In Chatsworth outside Durban, you'll find a local landmark in the Sri Sri Radhanath Temple of Understanding built in the shape of a lotus flower. The architecturally beautiful Hare Krishna temple and its gardens are conducive to meditation, contemplation and prayer. You can go on a guided tour and enjoy a meal at the vegetarian restaurant at the temple.
More inspiration from the East can be found at the Ixopo Buddhist Retreat Centre, 90km south of Pietermaritzburg. This venue runs an annual programme including Buddhist retreats combined with yoga, the arts and even cooking. Alternatively, you can simply book a personal retreat to imbibe the peace of the rolling hills and the meditation spots, and tuck into tasty vegetarian cuisine. What’s more, Ixopo is a birder's paradise.
When it comes to natural beauty, there’s little to beat the Drakensberg mountains with its soaring rock formations that have inspired all manner of spiritual and mystical experiences.
One group, the ancient San people, related their supernatural experiences in paintings and engravings throughout the mountain range. A visit to any of the resorts within the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park, a World Heritage Site, will offer the possibility of visiting rock art sites where you can learn more about the beliefs of the San that still resonate today.
Focusing on traditional belief merged with contemporary healing, the award-winning Fordoun Spa near Nottingham Road in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands cooperates with a local inyanga (medicinal healer) and sangoma (spiritual healer), Elliot Ndlovu. He offers traditional treatments that use extracts from indigenous healing plants, consults guests at the spa, and has been instrumental in developing a range of natural products.
Whether you are interested in one of the world's great religions, traditional healing or ancient hunter-gatherer philosophy, KwaZulu-Natal, with its multitude of cultures and influences, has plenty to offer anyone embarking on a spiritual journey.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Ixopo Buddhist Retreat Centre
Tel: +27 (0)87 809 1687
Cell: +27 (0)82 579 3037
Fordoun Hotel and Spa
Nottingham Road, KwaZulu-Natal Midlands
+27 (0)33 266 6217
Tours to do
The Buddhist Retreat Centre offers a detailed list of retreats for the year, including photography workshops, meditation retreats as well as music reflection retreats.
What will it cost
Costs will vary depending on where one stays. The Buddhist Retreat Centre offers weekend packages and getaways. There's no charge to visit the Hare Krishna Temple, but donations are welcome.
Length of stay
You could easily spend a week exploring the highlights in the beautiful province of KwaZulu-Natal.
Where to stay
You can stay over at the Buddhist Retreat Centre and Fordoun Hotel and Spa. There are also wonderful resorts and small family hotels throughout the Drakensberg region.
Other sites worth visiting include the Umbilo Shri Ambalavanaar Alayam Temple, Sigananda Shezi's Grave, Fort Kwamonde (both in Eshowe) and the numerous battlefields scattered all over the KwaZulu-Natal.