How to Choose an Ayahuasca Retreat?
Updated: Oct 16
Within the last 15 years, the Ayahuasca business has become a flourishing tree.
Nowadays, some of the fruits are sour and some very sweet.
As a white monkey living in the Jungle, I want to give some hints to my fellow primates of all colors, on how to get the right fruit that will be up to your taste and will change your life.
Since people become more aware of the power of Ayahuasca, there is a demand that drives the supply. The majority of people who need Ayahuasca are coming from the West ( this tells something about our society) there is a wide variety of retreat types that are designed to fit the spoiled Western mind.
When a monkey with a limited budget, is staying in front of a fruit store, it must be wise to make the best of its money. Similarly with your retreat - to make a wise choice, you must figure out what you actually want and only after that, you will find it.
To accomplish this, there is no better method than asking the right questions. So below you will find a toolkit of questions and the answers that will help you find out what you need and where to find that.
Table of Contents:
“ What do I actually want from having an Ayahuasca retreat?”
As monkeys, we all like to believe that we are original, and in many cases we are, but from my experience, I can tell that there are only 3 reasons why people want to do Ayahuasca: pain, insights, and curiosity.
There are people suffering from a myriad of problems that cause them pain. It can range from childhood trauma to anxiety and suicidal thoughts. So they want relief from their pain.
There are people who need a little bit of help to make a change in their life. Usually, they need a little push or insight to succeed.
And the third type of people is “the seekers”. They have a feeling that there is something more to us as monkeys and the secret is somehow hidden inside. Driven by their curiosity, they want to inspect the inside world.
Of course, we have a complex lifepath and the reason we are pulled towards Ayahuasca can be a mix of all the reasons above.
Now, you can pick a team, and let's move to the next question.
"Which country do I want to go to do Ayahuasca?"
Chances are, there can be an underground Ayahuasca retreat near your house. The only countries where Ayahuasca is legal are Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Peru. However, the strongest traditions and shamanic skills around it can be found only in Peru and more specifically in the Peruvian Amazon.
For more information, please check our article on this topic.
"How much money I can/want to spend?"
Our day-to-day monkey business in the office can result in a wide range of results. By results I mean square pieces of paper that we like so much.
Depending on the amount of paper you have you can afford certain types of retreats.
There are retreats that will include a jacuzzi, massage service, exquisite cuisine, hammocks made of organic cotton, and aromatic toilet paper.
There is nothing wrong with it, but aren't we coming to Ayahuasca because we overindulge in conveniences and become weak? Even when trying to set our minds and lives in order, we seek pleasure that will most likely spoil us and ( in my opinion) diminish the results.
The word "retreat" is derived from the verb "to retreat". We go away from distractions to be one with what matters most. And the good news is that if we stick to simplicity, we kill two birds with one stone: ( metaphorically, no killing please) it will be cheap and effective.
It takes just a little bit of understanding that it is a retreat, not a fancy vacation.
"What is my minimum comfort level?"
If you are on a tight budget but want some basic comfort, you might keep in mind that the results won't be influenced by the comfort of your stay.
In Peru, you can find a relatively cheap place to have Ayahuasca while living in a wooden cabin in the jungle. It will have no electricity, shower, toilet, fan, and many other things Western monkeys appreciate.
Usually, these places belong to local families of Shamans, but you will barely find them online. and for sure it will be a big gamble since there will be no reviews giving you feedback about the reputation of the place.
If you are adventurous enough, it is a pretty memorable experience ;)
"The right shaman makes a difference"
Having an experienced, knowledgeable, and friendly shaman is what makes a difference.
Sometimes shamans dressed in bright feathers and colorful makeup are advertised as "the real" ones. This is far from the truth. Nowadays shamans are walking in sneakers and are driving motorbikes through the jungle. Don't get caught in tourist traps.
When researching a specific retreat, ask them who are the shamans, from which families and tribes they come, which plants they use, and how many retreats the shamans themselves are doing to be in shape.
Make sure that you have a good vibe out of the shamans.
"What duration of the retreat do I need?"
The duration of the retreat is very important. Although Ayahuasca can be like phototherapy boosted by steroids, it still needs time to address the issues you have. And the more issues you have - the more time you will need to spend in the retreat.
I think that if the person was raised in a healthy and loving environment, usually a retreat of one week is needed. However, if the person is having some serious issues like addictions, childhood trauma, the pain of loss, anxiety, depression, etc a minimum of two weeks is needed. As a rule of thumb, better to take a too-long retreat rather than not having enough.
"How to analyze the retreats that I like?"
Once you open a website of a retreat, check the price, duration, and what is more importantly the number of ceremonies included. Some places can have a week-long retreat with 3 ceremonies. However, if you double stay you don't get the number of ceremonies doubled. To me, it is not really fair.
Check the accommodation they provide, and in general, the vibe that you have from the website, social media, and their online presence.
"Where to search for retreats?"
There are a number of ways to find a retreat that will be reputable, but not so many ways to find “your personal retreat”.
When getting a recommendation from a friend, you hear about a retreat that worked for him/her. But to get something that suits specifically your needs, I suggest digging online and then having conversations with people running the retreats.
Searching retreats through Google is a decent option, however, if you are looking for something niche, small, and cozy, the websites above will be of greater help.
Do I need to believe all the reviews on these websites?
Well, I would say yes. But be critical and read the bad reviews carefully. Sometimes people can leave a bad review to a decent center. Sometimes it is deserved. The red flags within the reviews are the sexual abuse and misbehavior of the staff, not getting what was promised, etc. You will get it once you see one.
How to make the final decision?
At the end of the day, there will be never enough information to make a flawless, positive decision. I suggest gathering a critical mass of information and then making a decision based on your intuition. Trust your gut!
Just ask yourself if after knowing all the details you have, you feel good about going to the retreat. Give yourself some time to receive the answer from the inside. If it is a “yes”, go for it!
Drinking Ayahuasca in most of the retreat centers will change your life for the better. But to get the deepest changes possible, you need to resonate with the place.
Do your research, don't be shy about asking difficult questions, and trust your gut.
I wish you find the place that will bring you the long-awaited breakthrough and level-up!