Lalela is a home, a farm and a space for retreat outside of Magaliesburg town. It was started by a couple (Maia and Niel) in 2017 as an act of love and dreaming. We wanted a space of rest and sanity in nature for ourselves and to share this with others. Lalela is a creation in process and we aim for it to continually be so, as we learn, grow and expand. 


Our intention is to live and work on the land in a way that not only provides for the needs of the humans, animals and plants that share it with us, but to do so in a way that benefits all organisms in the larger environment.

In accordance with the Buddhist tradition of Dana (meaning gift), we offer our own practices, teachings and facilitation freely in order not to exclude anyone who is interested in receiving them. If you feel inspired to give after having received these practices, teachings and facilitation, you will have the opportunity to give to the facilitators and/or any specific area of Lalela that you would like to support.


olive orchard at lalela


About Maia and Niel


I grew up on a sheep-farm in the Southern Free State. Maybe that’s why I enjoy the quiet and the nature here so much. I have spent six years in the United States studying music performance (cello) and politics. I had a four-and-a half-year career in the South African diplomatic service and worked as a diplomat in Vienna for about 18 months. As a result I discovered that I wasn’t a bureaucrat at heart. What I really wanted to do was to practice meditation at a Buddhist monastery, so I did that as a novice monk at the Chithurst Monastery in the South of England for about a year.

Then I got on a bicycle and toured South Africa, Namibia and Botswana for nine months. During and after this saddled period I lived and practised at the Tara Rokpa retreat centre (Groot Marico), the Emoyeni retreat centre (Mooinooi), and the Dharmagiri retreat centre (Underberg).

I met Maia on the 30th of December 2015 at Dharmagiri and fell into a love that has only deepened over time. We moved to Lalela in January of 2017. I love living here, and I am grateful to everyone that has made this possible.


I grew up in Mayfair, Johannesburg. This is the first time I’ve lived outside of a city and I don’t want to go back (except for short visits). Since I was a teenager, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do about all this pain in life – inside myself and in the world around me. I’ve come now to rest in the desire to create spaces of holding, gentleness and kindness for myself and others. It’s a tough, spiky world and we all could do with more hugs. The best kind is the soul hug we can give ourselves. That’s what my work at Lalela is guided by.

Before this I worked in NGOs, schools and with community and art projects – doing writing, teaching, storytelling work and coordination. A key feature for me in all this has been nurturing spaces for people to create and share their own knowledge – after unpacking the social knowledge that they’ve received, that has come to be theirs. Lalela is also a space for me to continue and expand this work in playful and caring ways.