General Retreat Information

General Retreat Information2018-10-27T21:12:49+00:00

General Retreat Information

Unless stated otherwise, retreats start at 6pm on the first day, and ends at lunchtime (1pm) on the last day. Please plan to arrive between 4pm and 6pm so that someone is on site to show you to your room. If you are already familiar with the Centre, you will find an accommodation plan on the noticeboard, and can settle in as soon as you arrive.

The pricing of retreats includes accommodation, bedding and towels, soap, hot showers and three ovo-lacto vegetarian meals per day, including fruit, tea time treats and beverages. A facilitator’s fee may be included in some retreat fees, and there maybe a supplementary fee included to pay for additional costs such as teacher’s flights. There is usually also an optional environmental levy of R60 included in the pricing.

Please ensure that all final payments for the retreat have been made before you arrive, as we are a no-cash retreat centre, and we do not have credit card facilities. The only cash we accept is tips for the staff at the end of your retreat, snack-attack and shop payments, and dana for Buddhist teachers.

Tara Rokpa Centre is about:

  • 250 km to the north west of OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, and takes about 3.5 hours without heavy traffic or long stops on route.
  • 220 km to the west of Lanseria Airport (2.5 hours)
  • 230 km (3 hours) west of Pretoria,
  • and 170 km (2 hours 15min) south east of Gaborone.

There is a pin in Google maps if you search for Tara Rokpa Centre (Click for map). From Johannesburg, please select the route via Swartruggens, if you want to take the 15 km gravel route. Otherwise, you might be directed via the 60km gravel road (via Bokkraal). Make sure you cache the map on your phone, as you will go out of cellphone range before you arrive. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you print out the directions as a back up: Printable directions to TRC.

The road is manageable in a normal sedan car. Please drive very slowly on the last 15 km gravel section. Rain regularly washes away the topsoil, and it is a slate area, so there are sharp edges. We want to prevent the likelihood of punctures.

If you indicated on your booking form you would like to car pool, TRC will send out an email at least 5 days before the start of the retreat with names and contact details of people looking for lifts or offering lifts. It is up to participants to arrange travel and sharing of  costs amongst themselves, but TRC will help where we can.

For bigger retreats and if numbers warrant it, TRC will arrange a shuttle between OR Tambo Airport/Johannesburg and TRC on the day the retreat starts and on the day the retreat ends. The cost is usually around R650 per person one way, to be paid directly to TRC. TRC pays the transport company in advance in order to secure the booking for the shuttle, and once confirmed, we cannot refund any shuttle payments. However you can swop your seat with someone else requiring transport.

Flights should be booked to arrive at OR Tambo by no later than 10:00 am on the day the retreat starts, and departures from on earlier then 18:30 for local flights and 19:30 for international flights on the last day of the retreat.

For other transport options, please see below.

If you would like to visit for a personal retreat, or stay on for an extra night or two before or after your retreat, the pricing per room is below for 2018. Please note that rates may increase in 2019. Accommodation includes all meals and beverages:

  • Twin/double room with en suite bathroom (per person): R660
  • Twin/double room with shared bathroom (per person): R550
  • Single room with shared bathroom (only 3 available): R750
  • Single use of twin/double room (if space available): R770
  • Single use of en suite room (if space available): R990
  • Dormitory R440
  • Camping (own tent) R340
  • 30 days or more R250 per night
  • Self catering accommodation: R250 per person per night

TRC members receive 10% discount on all retreats/accommodation costs. For membership options, please see the Membership webpage.

For family-friendly retreats, children under 3 years old are free and children under 10 years old are half price.

It is important to us that everyone who wants to attend teachings is able to. Please do not let your inability to pay prevent you from attending retreats. Contact the TRC office (tararokpacentre@gmail.com) for volunteer opportunities and potential discounts or payment plans.

Retreat costs include all meals and selected beverages and snacks from 6 pm on the start day until lunch on the last day. If you would like to arrive for lunch on the first day, please book with the office at least 2 days before arrival – there will be a charge of R100.

  • Breakfast consists of a staple of cereals, bread or toast, porridge, yoghurt, eggs, and fruit. (served between 8 – 9 am, depending on retreat schedule). 
  • Lunch is based on rice/pasta/other starches, veggie dishes, salads, and dessert (usually served at 1pm)
  • Supper is a light meal of soup, bread and salad (usually served from 6 pm).

We can cater for vegan or gluten-free diets. Please indicate your requirements on your booking form. Please also note any allergies such as peanuts.

If you have particular dietary needs, please let us know at least a week before arriving, and consider bringing your own supplies with you and discussing your needs with our retreat manager – we will do our best to assist you.

We have various teas and instant coffee, cold water and juice concentrates available for self-service throughout the day in the dining area.

We do provide dairy milk, as well as a dairy alternative (usually soy). If you require any other type of dairy-fee milk, please bring it with you.

We do have french presses available for use – you are welcome to bring your own ground coffee with, or to purchase in our shop.

Fruit, biscuits and rusks are available throughout the day in the service area of the dining area.

Guests are requested to wash their own cups, glasses, plates and cutlery, and to place in the drying rack. Washing-up facilities consist of a container for scraps, a pre-rinse basin, a wash basin and a rinse basin. Please bring mugs back to the dining area after use, and wash.

There is a “Snack Attack” facility in the kitchen of the Main House for those in-between times, stocked with chocolates, crisps/chips and other sweets – payment is on an honesty system.

We request that you do not bring alcohol on site unless it is specifically allowed for individual retreats. In that case, alcohol may only be consumed around the fire pit in the evenings. Please be considerate towards the other guests, who may be in recovery, or may have taken vows, and do not drink at the dining area or during meals. Please also take all bottles back with you when you leave.

There is no cell phone coverage at TRC, unless you climb to the top of Temple hill. The office phone at TRC is a skype phone, and does not work during power cuts. You can give the number out as an emergency number for family: +27 11 083 9338, but it is not manned regularly. It is possible to email from/to TRC at tararokpacentre@gmail.com in case of emergency. Email is usually checked often during retreats, both on site and offsite.

  • Three healthy ova-lacto vegetarian meals – substantial breakfast and lunch, and a light supper;
  • Tea, coffee and assorted refreshments available morning to night in the dining area;
  • Bedding and a towel per person;
  • Hot showers;
  • First aid kit in the Main House;
  • A small but diverse collection of books in the library, including many reference books on fauna and flora;
  • A little shop for emergency supplies and other fun things to buy;
  • Clean and healthy mineral borehole water (filtered by the rocks of the earth) for drinking, cooking and washing;
  • Marked walking trails;
  • Swimming spots.
  • A swimming costume and wrap if you would like to swim;
  • A torch and extra batteries
  • A raincoat and/or umbrella for summer thunderstorms;
  • Mosquito/insect repellent, although the area is malaria-free;
  • Sunscreen lotion;
  • A hat;
  • Socks and sturdy shoes for if you go on a walk;
  • Slip-on/off shoes for on site
  • Personal medication (the nearest doctor/dentist/hospital/pharmacy is 45 km away).

Bring stretchy, comfortable clothes. It is a good idea to dress in layers that can be removed or added during the day and evenings, as there is a wide temperature range, particularly in winter (when jackets, thermals, beannies and scarves are needed). Light, long sleeved tops or long pants are recommended in the evenings to minimise mosquito bites. Long trousers for walks in the bush will reduce the chance of scratches or tick bites. A jersey or light jacket will be needed during summer. White clothes or delicate materials are not recommended for use at TRC.

There are washing facilities on longer retreats (excludes weekends).

The shop sells, besides emergency toiletries and basics, the following:
Ground coffee, local herbal products, local sustainable honey, shwe-shwe aprons, yoga mat bags, clothing items, postcards, yoga clothing, incense, Dharma cards, Dharma books, mala beads and other dharma items, shoulder bags and crafts from the Rokpa projects in Harare, local bottled produce and water, books, and some practical items.

There is electricity in all the houses on the property (Eskom permitting!). Our 3-pins plugs are round so you may need an international adaptor if your appliances have square plugs or the European 2-pin round types.

For Buddhist dharma retreats and some other workshops, dana (a donation) will be accepted by the retreat leaders in appreciation of their teachings. These teachers do not get paid from retreat fees, and often do not have any other source of income. The amount to offer to depends on one’s personal financial situation and the benefit one gets from the teachings. Dana boxes will be put out towards the end of the retreat.

For other retreats and weekend events, an additional facilitator fee will be included in the cost of the retreat.

In order to support environmental sustainability at the Centre, TRC asks a voluntary Environmental Levy. This is based on the distance people travel to the Centre and their mode of transport. This money is used for environmental projects at the centre.

  • Local car travel: R60 per person.
  • Regional/local flights: R375.
  • Long-haul flights: R875.

The Intercape bus (coach route Johannesburg – Pretoria – Gaborone) leaves Johannesburg Park Station daily at 12 noon and arrives at Groot Marico at 15.50, cost approx. R300. For the return journey, the bus leaves Groot Marico, direction Johannesburg, about 9:30 am daily. Tickets must be bought online. Park Station can be accessed either via a metered taxi/ride share from the airport (R200 – R400), or via the Gautrain from OR Tambo Airport to Park Station (with a change at Sandton, cost approx. R125).
TRC will do a pickup from the bus stop at Groot Marico, at a charge of R100 to cover petrol costs (R150 from Zeerust).
(Total cost for this option – train/taxi, Intercape bus/TRC pickup – approximately R600 one way)

There are a few taxi drivers we have used in the past who are willing and able to do the trip to TRC from OR Tambo Airport, at an estimated cost of R3000:

  • Sam Khumalo (based in Johannesburg) Mobile number +27 (0) 73 106 2806/+27 (0) 73 225 8748/+27 (0) 74 737 9232. He has proven to be very reliable and trustworthy, and he keeps his fares as low as possible for us.
  • Pule Pulenyane (Manager), Rotwe Travel & Tours, Madikwe Game Reserve, NW province, manager@rotwetravels.co.za
    +27 (0)73 548 4455/+27 (0)84 685 7058(o)/+27 (0)86 632 1026(f) www.rotwetravels.co.za
  • Alan Bilbrough, African Journeys: +27 (0)83 602 0399, alan@africanjourneys.co.za, (http://www.africanjourneys.co.za).

Please do keep us informed of your travel plans to Tara Rokpa Centre.

As we are situated in a rural area, we do have many domesticated animals and other wildlife on site.

Some of our staff and residents have dogs and cats, and if you are uneasy about these animals please let us know beforehand.

If you would like to bring your pets with, please enquire beforehand. Usually people with pets are accommodated in the Brown House, about 5 minutes away from the main site, as it has an enclosed yard. We do reserve the right not to accept animal guests. We do also request that animals are kept locked up during meal and course times.

There are many insects around, which is a sign of an unpolluted environment. We do have mosquitoes, but it is not a malaria area. And there are ticks, and tick bite fever does occur in the area, so please do take precautions when walking in the veld. Other animals you may come across when out walking include snakes, water monitor, lizards, chameleons, spiders, frogs, scorpions, baboons, monkeys, various buck species, horses, donkeys, chickens, cattle, geese, and many types of wild birds – please do bring your binoculars, birding books and lists, and cameras.

If you do come across a creature in or near your house that concerns you, please do not approach. Contact a member of staff for advice.

Helping where help is needed

For some of our retreats we ask that participants sign up for a daily task to help with the smooth running of the retreat. The list of tasks will be posted on the notice board in the dining area. Tasks may include the following:

  • Flower arranging
  • Sweeping of paths
  • Shrine master
  • Gong Wong
  • Tea Wallah
  • Night lighter
  • Weeding
  • Cleaning the swimming pool
  • Setting up for supper
  • Cleaning up after supper
  • Watering of specific areas
  • Cleaning the Octagon