Best Ayahuasca Retreats (authentic ayahuasca retreats)

Best Ayahuasca Retreats (authentic ayahuasca retreats)

Authentic Ayahuasca Retreats have experienced shamans, medically screen participants, have groups less than 12 people and don’t rush you through the process. We asked Reddit experienced Ayahuasca users from Reddit how to best pick a retreat and then took this and found retreats from all over the world which align closely with their advice.

Table of Contents:

Ayahuasca Basics

What is Ayahuasca made of?

Ayahuasca Tea is best made of two plants. The first being the Ayahuasca Vine and the second can vary but is often the leaves of the Chacruna bush. These two plants are best combined with water and sometimes some other medicinal herbs (like wild Tobacco) and boiled for approximately 8 hours or so.

An assistant Shaman watching over the Ayahuasca Brew process at Santuario Huistin Ayahuasca Retreat in Pucallpa Peru.
An assistant Shaman watching over the Ayahuasca Brew process at Santuario Huishtin Ayahuasca Retreat in Pucallpa Peru.

The result is a very dark, bitter and thick tea which is not pleasant to drink but is a highly potent psychedelic used in indigenous ceremonies in South America and specifically those with strong influence from the Amazon Jungle (Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil etc). The psychedelic tea is used for various reasons including healing both physical and mental health issues by indigenous people and western visitors.

However, brewing Ayahuasca is not just a chemical process of combining heat, water and particular plants. Ayahuasca is best made by trained shamans who sometimes have decades of experience in using plant medicines of many kinds to heal various ailments. The brewing process will also involve spiritual chants and other ceremonial actions in line with the shamans particular tradition (for example Shipibo) even while harvesting the ingredients.

Shamans take their jobs very seriously and the practices they use are often passed down generationally. The use of DMT (the psychoactive natural compound present in Ayahuasca) has been dated to thousands of years ago in South America (Bolivia) and so the Shamans who practice in modern times are thought to have a very long history with medicinal uses for Ayahuasca.

I wrote more about how Ayahuasca is made and what it is made of where I also elaborate on the difference between synthetic DMT and Ayahuasca, whether Ayahuasca should be thought of as a drug.

How is Ayahuasca psychedelic exactly?

Ayahuasca Tea is psychedelic because the two main ingredients, the Ayahuasca Vine and the Chacruna plant, are specifically chosen in order so that the DMT (Dimethyltryptamine) contained in the Ayahuasca Vine is allowed to pass through your stomach lining, into your blood stream and eventually across the blood/brain barrier where it attaches to your Serotonin receptors and elicits a psychedelic experience.

Artwork inspired by the Ayahuasca visions of Juan Perez (guide at Santuario Huishtin Ayahuasca Retreat).

TIP: I wrote more about this process in another article discussing Ayahuasca and the Ego from both a spiritual and neurological point of view using the concept of the ‘Default Mode Network’ and research conducted by Robin Carhart-Harris on the influence of psychedelics on the brain.

If you were to consume the Ayahuasca Vine by itself you would not have a psychedelic experience. This is because your stomach has a specific enzyme which neutralizes the DMT and stops is from entering the blood stream.

If however, the vine is combined with Chacruna then this acts to neutralize the very enzyme which normally neutralizes the DMT. The Chacruna plant contains an MAOI or Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor which is acting upon this enzyme stopping its normal function.

As such when the Ayahuasca Vine and the Chacruna Leaves are combined together they allow your body to accept the DMT beyond the point of the stomach and digestion.

DMT is found in many different plants and grasses around the world but indigenous people of South America somehow figured out that the combination of the Ayahuasca Vine and Chacruna plant was a special combination with a particular effect. It’s not clear how this was discovered exactly but in any case it has been.

What is an Ayahuasca Ceremony?

An Ayahuasca Ceremony is the traditional method of drinking the psychedelic tea known as Ayahuasca or Iowaska or Yage. Ayahuasca Ceremonies are not uniform and you will find some differences between how a ceremony is performed depending on which tribe the ceremony is taking its practice from. In my experiences, I have mostly drunk in Shipibo style ceremonies based on this tribe’s understanding of Ayahuasca.

Maloca used for Ayahuasca Ceremonies - Santuario Huistin Retreat Pucallpa Peru
Maloca used for Ayahuasca Ceremonies – Santuario Huishtin Retreat Pucallpa Peru

A Shipibo style ceremony usually,

  • takes place at night inside a ‘meeting hall’ or Maloca as its known in Peru,
  • is lead by a shamans and some assistants to the shamans,
  • Has participants and shamans sitting or lying down (on a foam mattress) in a circular formation within the Maloca.
  • Each participant is asked to come forward starting with the people clockwise of the shamans.
  • When they come forward they are offered the Ayahuasca Tea to drink. Sometimes a cup (approx 200ml depending on the brew) or perhaps half a cup if required to be a lower dose.
  • For the next 4-6 hours the psychedelic tea acts upon your system and you can (but are not necessarily guaranteed) to have various insights of a personal and perhaps spiritual nature also.
  • During this time the shamans will be singing various songs (aka “Icaros” in Peru) which bring about the personal insights in conjunction with the Ayahuasca Tea itself.

What is the point of an Ayahuasca Ceremony?

The point of an Ayahuasca Ceremony can be many but they often revolve around personal and spiritual insights for the participant which can be healing psychologically speaking.

TIP: The uses for Ayahuasca can vary depending on the culture also. Westerners often think of it as the above but indigenous people also use it as a physical treatment and many many other things.

The basis of this psychological healing, I think, sits in the ego and how it is temporarily reduced in activity for the duration of the ceremony. It’s this temporary reduction in activity which can actually be very positive and allow us to see our various mental schema from a detached position (known as ‘being the observer’ in meditation circles). This allows us to have another perspective on the various psychological influences (often negative influences) in our lives like addiction or trauma.

In day to day life we are ‘in’ our ‘ego’ and hence have difficulty seeing it and its various issues objectively. When we become the observer we allow ourselves a different view of ourselves and our lives in which we can take stock and gather new information and often healing from psychological trauma.

The concept is similar to that of getting a second opinion or a third party audit of a particular project you are working on. Perhaps you have become so close to (or identified with your ego in our analogy) it that it’s hard for you to see the forest for the trees (things outside of your ego’s immediate concerns).

The same thing happens to us as we navigate the world as humans but with our psyche. It’s possible that we become so identified with our ego that we start to think that there is nothing outside of it. This serves to cut us off from the rest of the world and people and also engrains certain patterns of thinking (ie traumatic thoughts and memories).

Under the influence of Ayahuasca we can temporarily put these thought patterns on hold and experience something new. Robin Carhart-Harris, a British neuroscientist, who has conducted research on the brain under the influence pf psychedelics has shown that new connections are made in the brain that perviously didn’t exist when the ego (as as he says the Default Mode Network) is reduced in activity for a few hours.

You can read more about this topic in our guide on Ego Death and Ayahuasca.


  • Your Ego isn’t something to be rid of permanently. You need it to live and navigate in the world. It’s just that as we navigate the world doing our various activities to meet our basic needs and higher desires our ego sometimes picks up patterns of thinking which are detrimental to us and cause trauma. Psychedelics present an opportunity to erase some of these negative patterns and create new ones. These are represented neurologically by the ‘new connections’ which Robin Carhart-Harris shows us in his research.
  • Michael Pollen in his book How to change your Mind described psychedelics to a mountain ski field. At the beginning of the day the groomer has made perfect ski runs. Flat, smooth and ready for the day of skiers to use them. At the end of the day, after all the skiers have done their runs, the ski runs don’t look or feel smooth anymore. They are rutted and over used. Perhaps exposing the mud and rock underneath and has become slushy. It’s degraded after use is the point here. Michael likens psychedelic use to a fresh snowfall that might happen overnight to fill in and cover over the rutted areas with new fresh snow which returns the ski field to a pristine state. The analogy isn’t perfect but in other words its like maintenance and upkeep for your brain and neurological system.

Ayahuasca Shamans:

An Ayahuasca Shaman is a man or woman who has trained as what is effectively a doctor in western parlance except using non-pharmaceutical treatments. Instead their treatments are all plant based. Shamans are kind of a combination of a doctor, a spiritual leader and generally a person or respect int he community they are from and even in other circles.

Shamans make the Ayahuasca brew with spiritual and chemical processes as the shamans harvests the various plants involved and conducts ceremonies which are equally part of the ‘ingredients’.

Shamans usually has a traditional cultural paradigm with which they have trained, eg Shipibo from The Amazonian Basin, for years if not decades. In terms of choosing a retreat you will want to find one which has Shamans who comes from one of these traditions which has been using Ayahuasca for many hundreds if not thousands of years.

Shaman will not only brew the Ayahuasca but run the ceremony and importantly clean the room spiritually before the ceremony starts and ‘close’ the ceremony spiritually also with spiritual hygiene best practices so to speak. They will also know how to induce a useful and healing process along with the spirit of Madre de Ayahuasca.

Best Ayahuasca Retreats

I conducted some research on the Ayahuasca Reddit Group and one of the Ayahuasca Facebook Groups in order to understand what the key factors when choosing the best Ayahuasca Retreat. The below list of criteria is a summary of the info gathered. You can read the full analysis below.

An authentic retreat has,

  • experienced shamans,
  • medically screen participants,
  • days off in between Ayahuasca Ceremonies

but I found in my research that it was hard to find a retreat which does all of these things AND have small group sizes. The exception is Santuario Huistin which does all of this.

** Note, I have not personally had ceremonies at most of these retreats (except Santuario Hushtin where I have had 8 ceremonies) and am simply trying to collate a list of what seem to me to be good retreats. Just because they are mentioned here doesn’t mean that it’s the right one for you. Please take your own time to additionally research the ones you are interested in so you can become comfortable with them. Feel free to avoid ones you don’t resonate with – they all have their own ‘feel’ so to speak. **

Top Ayahuasca Retreats by location

Cheap Ayahuasca Retreat Center

TIP: Ayahuasca is a topic where the phrase ‘you get what you pay for’ is very applicable. I’ve tried to balance quality and affordability in my recommendations in this section.

If you’re in the USA then Origen Sagrada balances affordability and quality at $850 USD inclusive food, accommodation and ceremonies.

Just based on the retreat cost itself Santuario Huistin is a cheaper retreat at $729 USD for 5 nights inclusive of, 3 ceremonies and return travel from Pucallpa.

Santuario is in Peru so, obviously there are travel costs to Peru for many people so considering this it might not be the cheapest retreat for you.

If you’re in Europe then Om-Mij at 275 Euro for a 2-3 day retreat.

Retreats by time of year:

Depending on when you can travel there may be a retreat which are more appropriate than others taking into consideration holidays and weather.

For example, going to The Amazon Basin in March will likely be very humid and hot. You may consider booking your retreat in August is it is in or near the jungle like those in Peru.

If you are in Europe however then perhaps consider Spain in April as a great time of year weather wise.

Ayahuasca in the USA

Finding a retreat in the USA are somewhat complicated but definitely possible. It’s complicated by a few things.

  • First is the legality of it. Only some religious organizations are able to operate a retreat legally as they use it as a sacrament to its members which is legal. I don’t think that the retreats mentioned under this section are technically legal so if this is a must have for you you might be more interested in UDV Church in the USA.
  • Second is that they appear to be focussed on large groups – much larger that the 10 or so that were suggested by the Ayahuasca Reddit Group. A small ceremony is much more comfortable and less distracting which can be an issue during a psychedelic experience.
  • In saying the above I have selected one which I would say is the best according to the criteria mentioned above and also given that a good retreat is thin on the ground in the USA.

Origen Sagrada (California and Colorado retreats):

Experienced Shaman(a): By all accounts the shaman(a) are experienced and very good having come from a Taita (name of a tribe of people who have used Ayahuasca or Yage as it is known in Colombia for generations) Tradition of the Colombian Amazon.

Medical Screening: They do medically screen you prior to accepting a booking.

Small groups sizes: As I mentioned above this is difficult to satisfy in the USA. They have groups ranging from 30-35 participants and 10 or so facilitators.

  • The worry here is that you may well be crammed next to someone in an ceremony which can be distracting to say the least. Ayahuasca Ceremonies often involve ‘purging’ (throwing up) and everything else which comes with someone being right beside you so not ideal.
  • On the plus side there do seem to be a lot of facilitators at a 1:3 ratio. Most people do not experience difficulties in a ceremony but a few might in a group of this size.
  • Note that Origen Sagrada have different locations in Colorado and California for their USA based retreat locations and the each one might have different amounts of space. It’s unclear from the information I read so perhaps you could ask about that if you are interested to go there.

Day off in between Ceremonies: It’s hard to tell from their website but I think they do not have days off in between ceremonies based on the length of the retreat in days. I suspect this is for the same reason I hypothesized they have larger ceremonies. They are probably trying to find a balance between cost and allowing as many people to receive healing. Also consider the shaman(a) are traveling from Colombia to do these ceremonies.

Conclusion: Even though they are not quite matching all of our criteria I think they are still worth checking out. The logistics, costs and popularity of doing an Ayahuasca retreat in the USA means you might not be doing it in the ideal circumstance however, it seems as if Origen Sagrada is attempting to provide quality Ayahuasca Ceremonies to people who can’t travel to Colombia to do it with them.

Ayahuasca Peru

Santuario Huistin – Pucallpa, Peru

This is a rustic retreat with a powerful Ayahuasca brew not for the faint of heart. The accommodations are basic but comfortable and the food is healthy and simple just like an Ayahuasca Diet should be.

According to our criteria Santuario is one of the only retreat to satisfies all of them.

  • You will be medically screened before you reserve,
  • have very experienced shaman(a),
  • do take a day off in between ceremonies and even Saturday and Sunday off if you’d like to relax with yoga in between sessions or do a tour of the jungle,
  • and are in ceremony with no more than 10-12 people. In fact I have been in ceremony here with only 1 other person before and as many as 10. More often than not 5-6 is average in my experience.
  • TIPS: In 2018 and 2019 I (Vinay Lal the author of this site) had 8 ceremonies in total here and can attest to the strength of its brew.

As far as retreat options Santuario Huishtin run ceremonies 3 times a week and you can come to as many as you’d like however, they recommend a 5 night stay or a 12 night stay to most as these are a balance of your time and effective healing.

  • NOTE: It’s possible to arrange different lengths of stay also so, if the below 5 and 12 night stays don’t work for you you can tell us what does work for you and we can try and arrange by contacting us via the reservation request form.
  • 5 night (6 day) and 3 ceremonies (most popular): A 5 night (6 day) retreat would be $589 USD plus $140 for transport if you’d like that arranged for you (recommended for most but not mandatory). That would be a total of $729 USD inclusive 3 ceremonies, return transport from Pucallpa, all meals and accommodation while at the retreat.
  • 12 night (13 day) and 6 ceremonies (best for deep healing): This is just a longer version of the 5 night retreat with a higher cost to reflect the extra days (same daily rate though). The location, amenities and whats included is all exactly the same except you have 6 ceremonies and stay 12 nights.
    • The price would breakdown like this. $1289 USD for 12 nights (inclusive accommodation, food and ceremonies) and $140 USD for return transport for a total of $1,429 USD.

You can read more about Santuario Huistin in our full guide or read about more Peruvian retreat locations in this cost analysis guide I wrote.

Temple of the Way of Light Spiritual Center

Temple of the Way of Light is a very well regarded retreat based in Iquitos, Peru which is an area very famous for its proximity to the Amazon Jungle and Ayahuasca. It uses a traditional Shipibo System of Ayahuasca healing but what I like about it the most is its reputation. It is well known as a safe retreat with very high standards and specifically has a ‘women only’ retreat on top of having female Shamana leading their ceremonies. As such if you are a solo female traveler and concerned about safety then this could be the retreat for you.

In addition they abide by our criteria as they medically screen participants, have days off between ceremonies and small group sizes.

Temple of the Way of Light costs from $3,700 USD and are often 12 days or more, all inclusive and has 6 Ayahuasca Ceremonies.

Ayahuasca in South America

Soltara – Costa Rica and Peru

Possibly the highest quality all around Ayahuasca Retreat in South America and perhaps the world. They do medically screen participants, have experienced shaman(a), take days off in between ceremonies but still have group sizes of maximum 22 with 5 facilitators and shaman(a).

They have a long history of retreat co-ordination and do so with a traditional Shipibo (from the Peruvian Amazon) paradigm. I think one of the most important things they do is to help with ‘integration’ after the ceremonies are completed so that you can interpret the lessons you have gained from the ceremonies more easily and with less guess work.

They run varying retreat lengths and start dates throughout the year in both Costa Rica and Peru which you can learn about on Soltara’s Retreat page.

Ayahuasca Ecuador

Gaia Sagrada

Gaia Sagrada are an all inclusive Ayahuasca Retreat center in Ecuador and seem to me as a highly competent and fun retreat center based on their website. They have a location based in Ecuador, Peru and coming soon to the USA. They have,

  • very good guidance on medical safety in preparation for drinking Ayahuasca with them,
  • have shaman with decades of experience and a lot of support staff (eg fire keepers and singers),
  • they also encourage rest days in between ceremonies which is highly recommended as the medicine is still in your system the next day (even weeks actually) and is still acting upon you in more subtle ways than the ceremonial experiences.
  • they have a maximum of 20-25 people in a ceremony and so it doesn’t quite match our ideal number of 1-12 people as recommended by our Reddit Survey but actually I found it’s hard to find a retreat which satisfies this criteria.
  • As a bonus they also offer,
    • ** Accurate at time of writing

Ayahuasca Colombia

Origen Sagrada

Origen Sagrada was mentioned above under the best retreats in the USA as well. That is because they operate in both the USA and Colombia retreat locations.

The differences between the Colombia and USA retreat is that they they have a smaller amount of people (max 15), more ceremonies (6) and have days off in between for travel, do various tourist activities in the Colombian retreat.

This time also gives a chance to take a break from the medicine and recoup before getting ready for the next. For example, ceremonies 2 and 3 are held over 2 nights in succession. Then there are 4 days off (with activities) and then 4 more ceremonies over 4 successive nights.

Colombian based Origen Sagrada retreat appears to run from about $1650 USD per trip not including your international flights to Bogota.

You can read more about the specifics of the retreat by visiting their Colombian retreat page and then clicking on the particular upcoming retreat where it has a full breakdown of costs and activities and the schedule.

Ayahuasca Brazil

Spirit Vine Retreats

Spirit Vine has a very good reputation and seems to offer a very thorough service in what seems like a safe and thorough approach to drinking Ayahuasca.

I especially like that they have integration sessions in between ceremonies and have a western psychoanalytical background which I think gives them a unique perspective on integration. Western thought and the things you learn in Ayahuasca (meta physical type things) can be difficult to meld together post ceremony for western people who may not be used to meta physical concepts. I think a knowledge of both is very unique and could be very very valuable for integration of the new concepts you may come across in a ceremony

  • Spirit Vine center has years of psychoanalytical background combined with a spiritual tradition which started in 2004.
  • They have thorough medical screening information,
  • I have inquired with them about their group sizes and if they have days off in between ceremonies as it is not immediately obvious from their site. Update: I have not heard back from them.

Ayahuasca Europe

Ayahuasca is illegal in most of Europe but Spain and Portugal offer the chance to go to a retreat and sometimes a retreat from South America will travel there to give ceremonies.

Ayahuasca Spain


Om-Mij comes highly recommended by the Ayahuasca Reddit Group and,

  • has a long list of staff and guides. Its not immediately clear what experience they have exactly but their site says,
    • “We work with a wonderful team of guides with many different therapeutic backgrounds and everyone has a lot of experience with Ayahuasca ceremonies.”
  • they will medically screen you before in the booking process
  • and give days off in between ceremonies.
  • It’s not clear at this time if they have small group sizes or not. I have asked them and will update this section when I get the chance.
  • They offer 3 and 5 day retreat schedules which can be quite convenient for people in Europe who can’t travel to South America and spend several weeks doing this.
  • They have a retreat package starting from 275 Euro (3 day) which is very affordable.

Ayahuasca Portugal

Onanya Joni

Onanya Joni offers Ayahuasca in a Shipibo tradition and its founder, Geralidine Correia, uses the same tradition taught at Takiwasi (an Ayahuasca retreat in Peru with a long history) and has been conducting ceremonies since 2010 according to their website. They will,

  • medically screen you during the booking process,
  • like to do ceremonies with ‘small groups’ but I couldn’t see a maximum number on their website,
  • It seems from their retreat descriptions they do take days off in between Ayahuasca Ceremonies,

How to choose an Ayahuasca Retreat (as told by experienced Redditors):

I asked 10 people how they chose their first Ayahuasca Retreat or Ceremony in the Ayahuasca Reddit Group. By analyzing their answers someone new to Ayahuasca could use this info to understand the dangers associated with choosing poorly and maximizing you ability to have an amazing, life changing and trauma healing experience. Vamos!

Let’s outline the problem people face when choosing a place to drink Ayahuasca:

In short, not that many people in the world understand Ayahuasca well (understandably). As such when a newbie is trying to figure out where and how they can drink Ayahuasca safely they could find poor and/or no advice at all and fall into some common pitfalls.

This put’s your mental, physical, spiritual and financial health in danger. An experienced Ayahuasca drinker will know these dangers can be largely avoided by getting the right advice at the right time. This article is my attempt to give you that information – so please share it with anyone who is looking for a retreat.

Am I qualified to advise you about Ayahuasca?

I can’t say I know everything about Ayahuasca but compared to someone who is new to it I can provide a lot of basic info in one place which otherwise you would have to spend a long time collating yourself. On top of that I have,

  • Drunk Ayahuasca 9 times in Peru and Colombia (2018 – 2020) but I have also,
  • written over 100, 000 researched words on this blog about Ayahuasca,
  • and participated in the community discussions on both Reddit and Facebook groups for several years – this gave me perspectives on common fail-points for those people preparing for Ayahuasca and I incorporate this into my writing.

So, what did these Reddit Users say about choosing a place to drink Ayahuasca?

They said a lot, but below are the main themes. They run the gambit from “very thorough”, to “livin’ on a prayer” type methodologies and through them we can learn a lot about how to make a good decision and avoid any bad ones.

Comment #1: The most popular

Our first and most up voted commenter gave a list of things which he/she considered important to look for while choosing a retreat and/or a ceremony leader:

Small group size (no more than 10 people). You don’t want to drink with 40 people. It’s too much energy and it can be terrifying the first time.

Drink/rest ratio. You shouldn’t be drinking the medicine every night. There should be 1-2 days of rest between each ceremony. The medicine is hard on the body and on the mind. You will need time to recover.

Minimum ceremony requirement. Your facility should not allow people to stay for only 1 ceremony. This encourages people who just want to “trip” and also disrupts the bonds of the medicine group.

Intake process. Don’t go to a retreat that didn’t do an intake process with you. They should ask what meds you are on and what your mental health history is. Aya can be extremely dangerous or even fatal for people with certain physical and psychiatric conditions.

Most popular comment on

To add to this I would say:

  • Small groups sizes are much better – I would say a good group size of no more than 12 is a good guide.
  • Santuario Retreat in Pucallpa is usually very small, in fact, I’ve had ceremonies there with 3 other people in a giant Maloca – basically a private ceremony. They were able to achieve this because they run a 5 day retreat every week of the year and thus can spread people out over the year.
  • Drink/rest ratio is a good concept to understand. Ayahuasca is intense and a day off in between allows you to regain your energy. For example, you may have purged a lot the last ceremony and now your abs are sore.
  • I would also note that doing other plant medicines in between can be offered sometimes and depending on the medicine this could be a good idea or a bad one. I would stay away from tobacco cleanses for example – unless you are perhaps on a multi week and pre-considered plant medicine journey with experienced shaman and that you trust.
  • Minimum ceremony requirement: I think this is a good way to rule out retreat centers who are not so committed to the healing aspect. It’s possible that a retreat who is offering one ceremony deals to people is perhaps not acting as responsibly as they could be and might be focussing on the commercial aspect a little too much. At the same time retreat centers need to turn a profit to run and so doing this every now and then I don’t think is a terrible thing. It’s a balance I suppose.
  • This last point is GOLD: A retreat which doesn’t ask you about health, pharmaceutical and mental health history has no business offering a retreat to people. Specific points that a decent retreat should be checking,
    • Pharmaceutical History:
      • Ayahuasca (the brew) mixes dangerously with some drugs (such an anti-depressants but not limited to these) and a retreat should be asking you of your history in order to filter out those who might be in danger.
      • Note, a quick way to know if a particular drug is dangerous with Ayahuasca is to look it up in and then find the ‘contraindications’ for this drug in its listing which will tell you if it interacts poorly with MAOI’s or not. Ayahuasca itself is an MAOI and as such if the listing mentions that it is dangerous to combine with an MAOI then you should not drink Ayahuasca while this drug is in your system. How long a particular drug is in your system is a question best asked of your doctor.
      • Some common drugs which you may want to take special care with are anti-depressants, malarial drugs and altitude sickness medications. Note this is not a full list but just a few drugs I have come across which need special attention to be removed from your system.
    • Mental health History: If you, or anyone in your immediate family, has a history of psychosis (hallucinations without psychedelic drugs) and/or bi-polarism (manic or hypomanic episodes typically alternating with depressive episodes. Also called manic-depressive disorder) then you should most likely NOT drink Ayahuasca or indeed ingest any psychedelics. This is because psychedelics can actually induce further and more severe psychosis in those who are already susceptible to it.
    • Physical health: If you have serious health conditions, especially of the heart, you should be wary of Ayahuasca. Any good retreat should be vetting you for these.

Comment #2:

Found one that seemed good, and got good reviews, so I went for it.

Second most popular comment on
  • This is a bit light on detail and could or could not be a good method based on who the person is whose making the selection. What I mean by that is that, as individuals we have different abilities to spot ‘sheister’ websites. This guy may be good at it but, also it’s pretty easy to get fleeced in my opinion.
  • I do agree that reviews are important to read but they should be from an independent source – ie not self-selected reviews that the retreat has put on their own website or social media. Look to Trip Advisor for independent reviews.
  • I would say that a good way to see if a retreat’s reputation is really legit or not is to jump onto Ayahuasca thread and ask if anyone has info on them.

Comment #3:

I was recommended to go to this ceremony as the facilitator was highly regarded by a close friend so I being skeptical first went to meet the man, and acquaint myself with him, I asked him some questions and got to know him and felt very comfortable around him, I felt like he was a sincere guy so then I decided to go, best ceremony of my life!

But also some factors like it was 3 days, affordable, small group I think 12 people total, included a sweat lodge and an integration period.

Third most popular comment on
  • Facilitators can be key for your first experience. They can walk you through the etiquette, check on you during a ceremony and help you to process the experiences while you are there.
  • I thought taking the time to go and meet the people involved was great. I note that, for many first timers, this might not be an option if you are booking online but if it’s available to you I think that this is a great idea.
  • Additional things like a sweat lodge and especially integration could make a significant difference.
  • Integration is just as important as the experiences themselves. While many of us learn important info and ways to live in ceremony actually making them a part of your life afterward is harder than it seems. The ego is a slippery beast!
  • I think of integration as a set of methodologies (meditation for example but could be many things) to aid Ayahuasca’s lessons which she bestows upon you in ceremony but, also the act of implementing those lessons in your life. If there is an integration program offered by the retreat then take advantage of it. You will find that they can be endlessly useful.

Comment #4:

Whatever you do, avoid Rythmia! It cost a fortune and was nothing more than a sales pitch for the items they shill once you arrive, the accommodations are terrible and the actual brew was lacking. It’s just a cash cow for the very seedy owner. These feelings were popular among the rest of the attendees (all 90 of them) but the owner pays people to take down bad reviews so you don’t find out the awful truth until you arrive

Fourth most popular comment on
  • Sometimes a retreat will have a reputation like this. Some people love them and others hate them. I’m not one to poo-poo someone for making money and helping people but it is a combination that can go astray and be un-balanced to favor the cash making aspect above the healing.
  • To avoid a certain retreat I suggest that you do some research on the retreat you are looking at. Yes, you can read reviews but better yet jump into the Ayahuasca Facebook and Reddit groups and ask for people recommendations. You can’t beat real life reviews that are un-influenced by the owners themselves.

Comment #5:

Well if you want to know how to find a good retreat on these times of COVID-19 I suggest you to start with finding a Shaman who does services to just 1 person at a time, and is best to be alone with a Shaman and not with another person who’s there for the ceremony as well. 

Fifth most popular comment on
  • I’m not sure it’s realistic for many people to do individual ceremonies but I would suggest that being tested several times pre, during and after ceremony would be a great idea.
  • Of course, social distancing and PPE should be used as well. I think this applies for the foreseeable future until a vaccine is available, well tested and widely available.

Comment #6:

Honestly I was so confused with all of the options and once I seen photos of past guests, I guess seeing models and body builders made me feel quite insecure, so I looked at photos of everyday people who resembled characteristics of myself- which quite honestly didn’t matter anyways because the owner of the retreat I went to made me feel pretty terrible. Everyone looked up to him and valued his input. He never included me in conversation, or made eye contact when he did speak with me, over all pretty uncomfortable experience- with him. But the medicine made up for it and so did the 2 Shamans and the staff. Now looking for another center for next year.

Sixth most popular comment on
  • I think this kind of experience is why I wanted to write this article. The experience made up for it but I think there needs to be more awareness as to how to critically analyze how someone can safely choose an Ayahuasca retreat. Hopefully this article can help to alleviate this slightly.

Comment #7:

I got a text message saying there were ceremonies happening 5 mins from my house. I felt like that was ‘ayahuasca calling to me’.

To be clear, I don’t think going was a bad idea but I’d never do ayahuasca without a proper shaman again’.

Seventh most popular comment on
  • Again, this is why I wanted to write this article – those new to Ayahuasca could avoid potentially dangerous situations and/or have more profound experiences.

Comment #8:

I went with a popular, established and well-reviewed centre.

Eigth most popular comment on
  • This is simple and solid advice. You could do a lot worse (as we have seen) than this. I do think however that peoples ability to make decisions on what’s ‘established’, for example, could vary and in this way it’s very useful to know the ins and outs of the finer points of Ayahuasca. Hopefully this article and this site can help the reader to learn more about Ayahuasca.

So, there you have it – real life advice in one place from the Ayahuasca Reddit Community. There were a couple other comments made on the thread which you can read here if you like:)

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments