Strong Heart Retreats and Nature guiding


Wonder-full nature guiding

Personal nature journeys for groups and individuals of all ages in a wide range of natural environments. Since 1989 we have been helping people find their way to the wonder, intricacy and beauty of nature.

Nature therapy

Intentionally therapeutic guided nature experiences, to help you find the healing power of nature. The process includes invitations to focus, directed discovery, immersion for change, deep learning doorways, and take-home actions. All people will benefit from this kind of time in nature, especially those needing healing and restoration from trauma and stress.

Strong Heart retreats

Nature-based retreats to help you find your way in the world. We include time for silence and reflection, and opportunities to talk with a guide or advisor if needed. We particularly encourage men to experience the restorative power of nature through these retreats, and our hope is that all of us, men and women, will find our direction and clarity for life’s journey. 

All people, of any or no religion, are welcome on our retreats.

Upcoming Events

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Men’s retreats

Wild places have a way of reflecting our inner spaces. They are almost always restorative and deeply healing. In many spiritual traditions, men encounter enlightenment and God outside the city, in wild places.

Contact me to talk about a men’s retreat for you or your group.

“Nature is the only thing that men inherently respect; they know it is bigger and more powerful than they are. Inside the natural world, men are more likely to open up, weep, surrender, forgive, discover themselves, and know ecstatic joy. Out in nature is where a lot of men do their real praying.”
Richard Rohr

“He frequently withdrew to the wilderness to pray.”
The gospel of Luke

Be bold – retreat!

Where we work

Since retreats require an intentional withdrawal from busy work and life routines, most are run in nature reserves, gardens, and parks. Sometimes we will use a suitable indoor venue such as a coffee shop or home living room.

Some places we work 
Cumberland Nature Reserve
Karkloof forests and private nature reserves
Pietermaritzburg Botanical Garden
Durban Botanical Gardens
Makaranga garden lodge
Hilton College private nature reserve 
Umgeni Valley nature reserve
Any other natural areas which have the right sense of place.

Our Story

My name is John Roff. I’m married to Jo, we have 4 children, and live in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
Since 1989 I have been a nature guide and environmental educator, sharing the beauty and wonder of the natural world with thousands of people.

During this time, I have seen a man weep from simply being in open grassland,
I have seen a woman overcome fear through encountering a snake in a forest,
I have seen children and adults discover who they are through  exploring wild places, 
and I have seen many, many people changed and healed through experiences in nature.

Jo and I want as many people as possible to experience this kind of personal restoration through retreats and guided experiences in nature.

We are Christians who find our meaning and hope through knowing a strong-hearted, playful and welcoming Creator. Please note that all people, of any or no religion, are welcome on our retreats. 

‘Finding meaning, beauty, and strength in nature is something that has become second nature to me, thanks to many a walk in the bush with John. As a result, a 5-minute walk in a garden is all it takes to get me back on track when I’m feeling overwhelmed.’
Daniel Dix

More about John:

As a boy growing up in rural Zimbabwe, I was always happiest outdoors, exploring and learning as much about the bush as I could. That led to a career in nature guiding and environmental education, and I have been privileged to share hundreds of natural places with thousands of people in the last 30 years.

I am a person of faith. I follow Jesus Christ, and have found freedom, hope, direction, and purpose in this deepening relationship. I have an ecumenical church background and have experienced depth, richness, and insight through many church denominations and expressions. 

I am a published poet, musician, craftsman, educator, and life-long learner.

I am a qualified and registered Nature Guide for KwaZulu-Natal.

My continually expanding range of interests includes exploration, knives, jewellery-making, poetry, playing a range of musical instruments, writing  (especially with fountain pens), good tea and coffee, spiders (I have described 2 new species), insects, orchids, bushveld, trees, forests, and geology.

Striving and falling. Trying and failing. All these have been part of my journey. I’ve found that a fulfilling life is less about striving for perfection, and more about living authentically. I’m able to do that much better when I’m outdoors in wild and rugged places. I hope you’ll join me.


John Roff 083 6622306



We live in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.