Sacred sites in KwaZulu-Natal include the well-established Ixopo Buddhist Retreat Centre, the charming Sri Sri Radhanath Temple of Understanding in Chatsworth and the majestic hills and valleys of the mighty Drakensberg mountain range. Throw in some Zulu culture, San rock art, and myths and legends of the Bhangazi people and let the journey begin.

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

Temple of Understanding
50 Bhaktiveedanta Swami Road, Chatsworth
Tel: +27 (0)31 403 3328
Fax: +27 (0)31 403 4429
Email: temple@iskcondurban.net or iskcon.durban@pamno.net

Ixopo Buddhist Retreat Centre
Tel: +27 (0)87 809 1687
Cell: +27 (0)82 579 3037
Email: brcixopo@futurenet.co.za

Fordoun Hotel and Spa
Nottingham Road, KwaZulu-Natal Midlands
+27 (0)33 266 6217
Email: info@fordoun.com

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.

Get around

Self-drive.

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.

What's happening

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.