+27 (0) 21 790 2573 / +27 (0) 83 632 3039 shrink@tiscali.co.za

Ecopsychology Retreats

We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.

Henry David Thoreau

A Retreat To Manyeleti Game Reserve

Fully booked

1 participant will be participating in his 10th Ecopsychology Africa retreat, another his 7th, another her 5th, and another his 2nd

The Manyeleti Game Reserve is situated on the unfenced western border of the Greater Kruger National Park. In close proximity to some of South Africa’s most exclusive game lodges, the Manyeleti Game Reserve is home to the Big 5 and a range of diverse habitats, game and vistas.

Who Can Join?

This retreat would suit persons wishing to have a meaningful, respectful personal journey in an African wilderness off the tourist track. A trip in which the ‘inner journey’ is important and where the soul can go on Safari. These retreats, by their very nature are healing.

Groups catered for include:

  • Persons wishing to have a meaningful, healing experience in nature, where they can gain new insights and understandings about themselves, their circumstances and priorities, without engaging in any formal group therapy process.
  • Corporates wishing to do meaningful teambuilding using wilderness as the primary intervention.

Activities

We will spend 4 nights in our Manyeleti Camp. A maximum of 8 participants will be accommodated. Accommodation is rustic and comfortable in a tent/wood cabin on a raised platform, with 2 beds, shower, basin and toilet. This is not a luxury safari, you will not be pampered, but you will have an authentic, meaningful African safari. The emphasis is on the wilderness experience.

A typical day would start off at sunrise – the best time for game viewing – with a quick drink and snack. We then head out either on foot or in the 4X4 vehicle with armed game rangers. On these trails, the emphasis is on the quality of the experience, as opposed to quantity. Trails are experiential; we get an understanding of all aspects of the environment, from ants to elephants, soil types to trees, and the traditional tribal uses of the environment – whether they are for nutritional, medicinal, or spiritual purposes. Using his background in psychology, Jeffrey uses metaphor and symbol to make the environmental experience more relevant to participants’ personal lives and circumstances.

At a suitable spot – be it a river, tree or hill, Jeffrey will facilitate a group meditation – participants who do not meditate will be taught the basics of meditation, with emphasis on the interconnectedness of life.

Upon returning to camp after the morning outing, we have lunch. There is time after lunch for an afternoon nap, silent time, being in nature, or just sitting around. Participants are free to excuse themselves from any activity should they wish to do so. The camp itself is in a most beautiful setting.

We would leave the camp again in the late afternoon for another game drive or bush walk. Night drives too are included in the course of the week. After supper, there is time to talk around the fire.

One can expect an absence of logic and reason in the bush, so leave your ‘left brain’ at home, this is a ‘right brain’ experience. Although there is a basic structure, anything can, and does, happen including the unexpected. Jeffrey uses the ‘principle’ of immediacy, and goes ‘with the flow’ of the moment. Each trail is different, each group is different.

Adjustments are made according to the needs of each group. The emphasis ultimately is on the inner journey. All the activities and influences mentioned above, contribute synergistically to an internal healing process. We learn about nature. We learn from nature.

Itinerary

25 – 30 August 2016

Thursday 25 August 22h00:
Meet at Oliver Tambo Airport, Johannesburg. Sleep at a nearby Bed & Breakfast.

Friday 26 August 08h00:
Depart Bed & Breakfast for Manyeleti Game Reserve.

Tuesday 30 August 11h00:
Leave Manyeleti for O.R. Tambo International Airport.

PLEASE NOTE: Do not book connecting flight before 19h00.

Itinerary

24 September – 1 October

Saturday 24 September 13h00:
Meet at Oliver Tambo Airport, Johannesburg. Sleep at a nearby Bed & Breakfast.

Sunday 25 September 09h00:
Depart Bed & Breakfast for Manyeleti Game Reserve.

Saturday 1 October 11h00:
Leave Manyeleti for O.R. Tambo International Airport.

PLEASE NOTE: Do not book connecting flight before 19h00.

Practicalities

PLEASE NOTE:
This is the ‘planned’ itinerary. We are often going to be off-road in wilderness areas. Weather – good or bad – can impact on our arrangements, as can ‘road’ conditions. The principle of ‘immediacy’ will automatically adjust the itinerary.

Transport:
We will travel to Manyeleti and back with a tour transfer company.

Meditation:
I will teach meditation to the group and we will practice meditation in places both special and sacred.

Flight Home:
Please book your return flight for after 19h00 on Sunday 6 September.

Forthcoming trip: Venda– A hike through remote villages in Venda, conceptualised by Ecopsychology Africa. Totally off the tourist track, this will be the first group to experience this walk. We will sleep in traditional huts, eat traditional food, experience awe inspiring music, listen to stories from the elders. Packs will be ported by local people. All this will take place in the vicinity of Lake Fundudzi- the sacred lake of the Venda, and the Thato Vondo Forest- the Sacred Forest. Magic. Full itinerary to follow shortly. 27 August to 2 September.

Fully Booked

Fully Booked

Fully Booked

THE VENDA SACRED WALK

Lake Fundudzi and Thate Vondo Sacred Forest

27 August – 2 September 2017

Jeffrey Rink is a Clinical Psychologist in private practice in Hout Bay, Cape Town and has been facilitating Ecopsychology retreats since 1998. In facilitating these retreats, he combines his profession as a Clinical Psychologist with his passion for ecology, and conservation, and meditation- which he has been practicing since 1974.

Jeffrey graduated as a Clinical Psychologist in 1985. He is a diplomate of the South African Society of Clinical Hypnosis. In practicing ecopsychology Jeffrey synthesises psychological and ecological principles. Participants “connect” with the earth, and ecological insights are made personally relevant through symbol, metaphor and story-telling.

The words of Dr Ian Player, a prominent South African conservationist, have been particularly inspiring:

“Everything I have achieved in my own life, I owe to the wilderness experience. I have seen countless other lives moulded and changed by encounters with wilderness; in most cases, only a few days in the wilderness has been enough to change a life of despair to a life of hope.”

VENDA SACRED WALK LOCATION
Venda is a tribal area in the Limpopo Province in the heart of the Soutpansberg Mountains. It is mountainous, subtropical and remote, providing spectacular scenery, with traditional villages that nestle in the valleys of this verdant region. It is home to the Venda people, who are culturally and linguistically quite different from other tribes in South Africa.

WHAT TO EXPECT

“When I first heard about Lake Fundudzi, the Sacred Lake of the Venda, in the 1970’s, I wanted to visit it!” In those days, and until relatively recently, it was not accessible to outsiders. My first visit was in about 2001. I felt so privileged to be there. Set in a valley, deep in the heart of rural Venda and home to the largest natural inland lake in South Africa. The location is beautiful and the tribal setting still mostly traditional. Fishermen still provide for the community from the lake’s resources, and cattle somehow are immune from the predations of the crocodiles in the lake – I still don’t understand how this uneasy truce works, but it does…! Crocodiles tolerate the cattle, villagers tolerate the crocodiles. Waterfowl are abundant. Fish eagles soar and call and even crowned eagles frequent the vicinity. The setting is magnificent and the people are friendly. We are close here to the pristine source of the Mutale River which feeds the Lake, passing through as it flows on to the Kruger Park and its confluence with the Luvhuvhu River, near where it merges with
the Limpopo River.

Lake Fundudzi today is still treated as a sacred place. The villages nearby and their attendant headmen are the guardians of the Lake. The Lake is steeped in mythology and legend. It is believed that a white python and white crocodile live beneath the surface and sacred rituals are still performed. Small villages and isolated homesteads dot the surrounding hills and mountains where subsistence farmers with their crops and cattle eke out a living.

Read More

Nearby is another sacred site – the Thate Vondo Forest, sacred to the Tshidzhive people, a Venda clan. The Venda royal family are buried here and it is forbidden to enter this forest. An indigenous Afromontane forest, it is rich in mythology, and has sacred rituals practiced there to this day. It is believed that a white lion patrols and protects the forest.

Included in the walk to the Lake is a visit to the spectacular geological phenomenon known as the Tshatshingo Potholes which are fed by a river with deep pools that we will be able to swim in. Behind the potholes is a ‘secret valley’ that few outsiders know about, having a ‘Jurassic Park’ kind of feel. Here too there are deep pools in the river that we can swim in. We will be able to spend several hours at Tshatshingo before we overnight in the nearby village.

“When I first heard about Lake Fundudzi, the Sacred Lake of the Venda, in the 1970’s, I wanted to visit it!” In those days, and until relatively recently, it was not accessible to outsiders. My first visit was in about 2001. I felt so privileged to be there. Set in a valley, deep in the heart of rural Venda and home to the largest natural inland lake in South Africa. The location is beautiful and the tribal setting still mostly traditional. Fishermen still provide for the community from the lake’s resources, and cattle somehow are immune from the predations of the crocodiles in the lake – I still don’t understand how this uneasy truce works, but it does…! Crocodiles tolerate the cattle, villagers tolerate the crocodiles. Waterfowl are abundant. Fish eagles soar and call and even crowned eagles frequent the vicinity. The setting is magnificent and the people are friendly. We are close here to the pristine source of the Mutale River which feeds the Lake, passing through as it flows on to the Kruger Park and its confluence with the Luvhuvhu River, near where it merges with
the Limpopo River.

Lake Fundudzi today is still treated as a sacred place. The villages nearby and their attendant headmen are the guardians of the Lake. The Lake is steeped in mythology and legend. It is believed that a white python and white crocodile live beneath the surface and sacred rituals are still performed. Small villages and isolated homesteads dot the surrounding hills and mountains where subsistence farmers with their crops and cattle eke out a living.

Nearby is another sacred site – the Thate Vondo Forest, sacred to the Tshidzhive people, a Venda clan. The Venda royal family are buried here and it is forbidden to enter this forest. An indigenous Afromontane forest, it is rich in mythology, and has sacred rituals practiced there to this day. It is believed that a white lion patrols and protects the forest.

Included in the walk to the Lake is a visit to the spectacular geological phenomenon known as the Tshatshingo Potholes which are fed by a river with deep pools that we will be able to swim in. Behind the potholes is a ‘secret valley’ that few outsiders know about, having a ‘Jurassic Park’ kind of feel. Here too there are deep pools in the river that we can swim in. We will be able to spend several hours at Tshatshingo before we overnight in the nearby village.

I have probably, at a guess, visited this region about 20-30 times over the years – I don’t keep count! The topography of the area, and its rich spirituality, culture, and musical heritage inspired me to create the Venda sacred walk along the lines of the Camino de Santiago in Spain. And at last this ‘Sacred Walk’ has come to fruition, albeit in a much shorter form than the Camino! This unique walk focuses on Venda’s rich spiritual legacy – a legacy that lives on here in the daily lives of the people and places we will encounter. People here are friendly, respectful and hospitable and have a rich artistic heritage that permeates and manifests in their music and art.

Our walk will provide work for local people, people who are not on any tourist track. We will overnight in their huts, eat local food, and experience seriously good music – extraordinary music – quite unique! Tshikhona music particularly is quite surreal, hauntingly evocative, and entrancing! Musicians up to 100 strong playing flutes, and pounding huge drums! Our evenings will be combined with story-telling as told by the elders of the villages in which we meet.

Our backpacks will be portered by unemployed Venda youths overseen by two senior guides who will lead us. One of our senior guides is an award-winning guide with a deep knowledge of Venda culture and tradition that I have known and worked with for many years.

ITINERARY

Sunday 27 August 2017 10h00: Meet JHB (ORTIA) Airport.

Sunday 27 August 16h00: Arrive in Mukambani. This village is high up in the Soutpansberg Mountains. Our campsite is close to King Kennedy Tshivase’s royal homestead. We stay here in ‘relative’ comfort – in a traditional hut with beds, linen and an en suite bathroom. Catering is provided by a community project started in 2003 by Soza, (the then camp manager), and myself.

Monday 28: Walk to the village of Makwarame, where we stay overnight- about 10 km. That night we experience traditional Venda music and dancing.

Tuesday 29: Walk to Tshatshingo Potholes, a couple of kilometres away, where we enjoy and explore this astounding natural phenomenon. Another couple of kilometres takes us to the village of Tshidzivhe, where we spend the night. Chief Netshidzivhe, the headman, is the guardian of the Thate Vondo Sacred Forest. Here, we experience Tshikhona music – the musicians here are quite superb!

Wednesday 30: Walk through the Thate Forest on to Tshitangani, the chief here being a co-guardian of Lake Fundudzi with the Chief of Tshiheni. We walk about 15km.

Thursday 31: Explore Lake Fundudzi environs and walk to our next village- Tshiheni – 5 or 12km depending on route chosen! Both these villages have views of the Lake, and are closely connected to it as the guardians of the lake.

Friday 1 September: Our transport fetches us and returns us to Mukambani (Via Phiphidi Falls- another sacred site) for our last night in Venda. We experience relative luxury here again!

Saturday 2 September 10h00. Leave Mukambani for JHB (ORTIA) Airport.

OTHER INFORMATION TO CONSIDER
We will sleep in four villages en route to and around Lake Fundudzi. Our group will be a maximum of 7 persons. We will sleep in 2 traditional huts – gender based! Water will be provided for facecloth bathing in basins. I suggest you bring a supply of ‘wet wipes’ too! Toilets will be ‘long -drops.’ You will need your own sleeping bag and pillow, and I suggest a sleeping or yoga mat. Bags will be portered from village to village. There will be streams and rivers along the way we can swim and bathe in! All food will be provided including a lunch snack while we walk. I suggest however that you pack your own ‘snack-pack’ for the daily hikes. A natural fountain supplies water in each village!
PRACTICALITIES
A tour transfer company will transfer us to and from Venda. In Venda, a Taxi driver I have utilised for many years will transfer us, an affable, amiable and cautious man with a well-maintained vehicle. Driving in a Taxi in these areas adds to and enhances the experience.

PLEASE NOTE: This is the ‘planned’ itinerary. We are often going to be off- road in remote areas. Weather – good or bad can impact on our arrangements.

MEDITATION: I will teach meditation to the group and we will practice meditation in places both special and sacred. Participation is voluntary!

FLIGHT HOME: Please book your return flight for after 19h00 on Saturday 2 September.

QUESTIONS? Please feel free to contact me if you have any queries.
Best Wishes,

Fully booked.

ENTERING THE SACRED ZONE

By Michael Copley

(Michael, visited Venda with me in 2006. He was a musician, poet, actor. He wrote a volume of poems about Venda-available on request. He died a few years ago…)
We enter silently first through the pine plantation The sun sending rays of knowledge through the rows of trees We are reminded of soul echoes within our wandering hearts And we feel days long gone by talking to us with sensitivity The old ways of Vhavenda diffuse through a warm breeze We sense the centuries of reverence and mysticism A small band of cattle roam ghostly as their neck bells ring And the journey goes further into another realm of thanksgiving The aroma of extraordinary wafts of mystery come from ancient history Quiet steps on the path absorb the Thathe Vondo Sacred Forest memory Jakkelsbessie and yellowwoods stand guard over that which can’t be meddled with For the white lion spirit of chief Nethathe commands respect and humility

We feel a strange stillness drawing us in ever deeper and deeper Everything is quiet and still around Thonondo Hill as the sun glances curiously The white crocodile and the white python spirit await us as we come closer And the Raluvhimba eagle in the sky questions our hearts at the magical Lake Fundudzi

The centuries of Vhavenda ancestral commitment lie beneath these holy waters We bend over and gaze through our legs as tradition would have us do This pristine African beauty breathtaking in its blessedness and its natural view And days of good soaking rains have filled the Mutale river running through Humidity and heat hangs thick as we perspire and feast with our eyes Tapping into the love of a culture rooted in the laws and ways of Mother Earth The sweat purifying our minds and hearts as we blend into the myths and legends Surrounded by the timelessness of a people who know their roots and self-worth The grey headed bush shrike implores us with its spooky call The Piet-my-vrou red chested cuckoo sends its rhythmic sound to mountain walls We leave with soul imprints of solemn honouring given to each one of us alone For we are little wiser and greatly enriched for having entered the Vhavenda sacred zone