Ayahuasca (pronounced ‘eye-ah-WAH-ska’) is a plant-based psychedelic. Psychedelics affect all the senses, altering a person’s thinking, sense of time, and emotions.
If you are looking to explore and experience the powerful spiritual awakening that Ayahuasca retreats offer? If so, then you’ve come to the right place if you are thinking about trying Ayahuasca for the first time.
This Ultimate Guide to the Best Ayahuasca Retreats for Self-Discovery will provide you with all the information and insight you need to find the perfect retreat for your needs.
Ayahuasca, a traditional plant medicine originating from the Amazon rainforest, has gained significant attention as a transformative tool for spiritual exploration, and personal growth.
There is even a Netflix documentary called How to change your mind where Author Michael Pollan leads the way in this docuseries exploring the history and uses of psychedelics, including LSD, psilocybin, MDMA, and mescaline.
I will also delve into the world of Ayahuasca, discussing its origins, effects, and the best retreats that offer a safe, sacred place and immersive experience for your healing process.
I will also explore the differences between Ayahuasca and mushrooms, another psychedelic substance known for its mind-altering properties.
From the best Ayahuasca retreats in the US to the most renowned Ayahuasca retreats in South America, North America, and Europe.
This guide will give you all the tips and advice you need to make an informed decision. So, let’s get started
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What is Ayahuasca and Should you take it?
Ayahuasca is a powerful hallucinogenic plant medicine that has been used for centuries by indigenous people in South America.
While ayahuasca can offer profound and transformative experiences, it should be approached with caution especially if this is your first ceremony.
Safety considerations include selecting a reputable and experienced shaman, preparing both mentally and physically, and being aware of potential risks, such as interactions with medications and psychological vulnerabilities.
It is recommended to thoroughly research and consult with healthcare professionals before deciding to participate in an ayahuasca ceremony.
The psychoactive brew is made from a combination of the Ayahuasca vine and a leaf called Chacruna. The Ayahuasca vine contains a natural chemical compound called DMT, which is known for its intense psychedelic effects.
Ayahuasca is often compared to other psychedelic substances, such as mushrooms. However, the experience of using Ayahuasca is considered to be much more intense and profound than that of using mushrooms or other recreational drugs.
While both substances can induce visions and altered states of consciousness, Ayahuasca is said to have a deeper spiritual and therapeutic effect.
The use of Ayahuasca is deeply rooted in traditional shamanic practices and is believed to offer spiritual connection, emotional release, and personal insight.
Many people who attend Ayahuasca retreats do so in search of answers to life’s big questions or to heal past traumas.
It’s important to note that Ayahuasca should only be taken under the guidance of a trained shaman or facilitator in a safe place and controlled environment for a good experience
The effects of Ayahuasca can last several hours, and it’s common to experience purging (vomiting or diarrhea) during the ceremony.
Overall, Ayahuasca is a potent and sacred plant medicine that can offer profound experiences for those who are open to healing past traumas.
Here are some of the best upscale resorts known for their commitment to safety, professionalism, and authentic ceremonies.
Top Ayahuasca Retreats in South America
South America is the birthplace of Ayahuasca, making it the ultimate destination for Ayahuasca retreats. The continent is home to many incredible day retreats, each offering unique experiences for self-discovery, healing, and unconditional love of yourself.
1. Blue Morpho – Iquitos, Peru
Located in the Amazon Rainforest, Blue Morpho is a top-rated Ayahuasca retreat center. With over 15 years of experience, they have helped thousands of individuals in their self-discovery journey.
The retreat center offers an immersive experience, including traditional Ayahuasca ceremonies, plant medicine consultations, and integration workshops in small groups with genuine care and a safe environment.
Experience a 6-day, 4-ceremony Ayahuasca experience! Once you arrive a the Heliconia Amazon River Lodge, you will have no worries except to expand your consciousness and improve yourself.
All your food, your room, and all your needs will be handled for you. Their Ayahuasca is homemade with ingredients grown onsite.
They brew the best Ayahuasca perfected over seven generations to ensure the deepest visions and the greatest life transformation.
Click here if Blue Morpho is right for you.
Price: Starting at $2690.00
2. SpiritQuest – Iquitos, Peru
SpiritQuest is another well-known Ayahuasca retreat center located in the Amazon jungle. They offer various retreat packages, including customized ones tailored to the guest’s needs.
Apart from the Ayahuasca ceremonies, the center provides other plant medicines like Chiric Sanango and Uchu Sanango, both of which are helpful for various health issues.
They are dedicated to the healing of the Earth and all humanity by helping those who seek to attain deep personal cleansing, holistic healing, the rebirth of the spirit, and higher consciousness.
We’re serious about it and would expect you to be also.
SpiritQuest Listening to the Plants healing retreats are distinguished by their decades of experience and demonstrated skill in the Shamanic arts, consummate professionalism, impeccable integrity, and compassionate and responsible care for the well-being of those entrusted to them.
Address: Río Momón, Jaen, Peru
Price: Starting at $695.00
Click here if SpiritQuest is right for you.
3. Nihue Rao – Iquitos, Peru
Nihue Rao is one of the top Ayahuasca retreat centers in South America. With traditional Amazonian healing practices and a serene location, it’s an ideal location for a spiritual journey.
The center also provides accommodation, meals, and workshops, making it a complete healing experience.
This Ayahuasca retreat uses master plants, traditional Shipibo diets, and ayahuasca ceremonies.
They are specialists in shamanic treatment under the guidance of master healer and ayahuasquero Ricardo Amaringo.
They are an integrative healing center also providing training in Amazonian shamanism and opportunities for visionary art.
Address: 4HPR+W6X, Llanchama 16000, Peru
Price: Starting at $1500.00
4. Arkana – Sacred Valley, Peru
Located in the Andes Mountains, Arkana is a world-class Ayahuasca retreat center. Apart from the traditional Ayahuasca ceremonies, they provide other activities like meditation, yoga, and sound healing sessions.
They also have highly trained healers and shamans, making it an unforgettable and authentic experience to bring you a comprehensive program deeply rooted in the traditional practices of ancestral medicine.
They offer a safe, caring, and effective space to begin your journey of transformation, helping you every step of the way as you uncover the energetic roots of any trauma, negative thought patterns, unhealthy habits, or spiritual imbalance.
Address: Carretera a, Maras 08660, Peru
STARTING AT $2,280
Click here if Arkana is right for you.
5. Gaia Sagrada – Cuenca, Ecuador
Gaia Sagrada is one of the top Ayahuasca retreat centers in Ecuador. They offer retreat packages for groups, couples, and individuals.
In addition, they provide accommodation, organic vegetarian meals, and activities like saunas, hot tubs, and hikes.
The retreat center has experienced healers and facilitators who provide a safe space for guests to connect with themselves and plant medicine.
Gaia Sagrada Ayahuasca Retreat Center is nestled in a small community called Llayzhatan (Yay-zat-an) in the Andes Mountains, very close to Jadan (Ha-dan) which means “Close to Heaven.”
What a perfect place for exploring ayahuasca retreats and San Pedro retreats with authentic Ecuadorian shamans! Ecuador is quickly becoming a new destination for ayahuasca retreats in South America.
Spirituality at Gaia Sagrada Ayahuasca Retreat Center is varied and we honor all paths.
You are not required to adhere to any specific religious or spiritual beliefs to visit Gaia Sagrada Ayahuasca Retreat Center.
You are able to be yourself! Ayahuasca retreats are open to all religions.
STARTING AT $1,975
Click here if Arkana is right for you.
Top Ayahuasca Retreats in North America
If you are based in North America, you may want to consider attending an Ayahuasca retreat closer to home. While South America is the birthplace of Ayahuasca and has the most established and traditional retreat centers, there are also reputable centers in North America.
6. Soul Quest Ayahuasca Church of Mother Earth – Orlando, Florida
Soul Quest Ayahuasca Church of Mother Earth is a spiritual learning and healing center focused on providing the community with service, education, spiritual fellowship, healing practices, guidance, and ayahuasca ceremonies.
We believe in the rights of Mother Earth, and in protecting the practice of Mother Earth-based South Native American spiritual traditions, ceremonies, and sacred indigenous natural medicines such as ayahuasca.
Address: 1371 Hancock Lone Palm Rd STE A, Orlando, FL 32828
Starting at $999 for a 3-day 2-night weekend retreat.
Click here if SoulQuest is right for you
7. New Life Ayahuasca – Costa Rica
Located In The Lush Rainforest Of Costa Rica, This Retreat Center Offers Small Group Retreats To Provide A Personalized And Intimate Experience.
Their luxury eco-sanctuary offers a truly immersive journey, guided by highly trained ayahuasqueros who possess deep wisdom and expertise.
Discover the ancient healing traditions of ayahuasca in Costa Rica in a safe and serene environment, surrounded by lush tropical rainforests and the soothing sounds of nature.
With a focus on sustainability and comfort, our oasis provides a haven for self-discovery and spiritual growth, while ensuring seamless integration with nature.
In Addition To Traditional Ayahuasca Ceremonies, They Also Offer A Combination Of Ayahuasca And Psilocybin Mushrooms, Giving Guests The Opportunity To Compare And Contrast The Effects Of The Two Substances.
Address: 400 m South and 200 m West, Alajuela Province, San Ramon, 20201, Costa Rica
Starting at $2300
Click here if New Life Ayahuasca is right for you
8. Sacred Therapy – Washington
They are a spiritual church that holds private and public ayahuasca ceremonies. The private ceremony consists of 3 days of integration and 2 nights of drinking ayahuasca.
They provide the ceremony, our sacrament, full ayahuasca integration, bedding & shared bathroom w/ bath/shower, 2 light breakfasts, & after ceremony snacks..
Sacred Therapy Healings Follows A Strict Protocol To Ensure The Safety And Well-Being Of Its Guests, Including Pre-Screening And Medical Supervision During The Ceremonies.
They are not Traditional South American Shamans. They are modern medicine workers focusing on sharing Ayahuasca in their own authentic ways.
Sacred Therapy believes that the spirit of Mother Aya wants to be spread all throughout modern America.
They are trained to work with Americans of all kinds and people who need the deepest healing to the deepest spiritual awakening.
They are trained to work within the Spirit Realms and we always hold a protected ceremonial space they believe that there is a shaman inside all of us, and we are here to help you every step of the way, to find your Shaman within through our sacrament.
Location: Washington State
Top Ayahuasca Retreats in Europe
While Ayahuasca retreats are typically associated with South America, there are several reputable retreats located in Europe as well. Here are some of the top Ayahuasca retreats to consider in Europe:
9. Etnikas Ayahuasca Healing Retreat Center, Spain
Located In Spain, The Etnikas Ayahuasca Healing Retreat Center Is A Top-Rated Retreat That Offers Traditional Ayahuasca Ceremonies With Experienced Facilitators.
In Addition To Ayahuasca, The Retreat Also Offers San Pedro And Kambo Ceremonies.
The Retreat Center Is Nestled In The Beautiful Spanish Countryside And Provides A Peaceful Setting For Self-Discovery And Healing.
- They are the only Ayahuasca retreat service recognized by the Ministry of Health.
- 40 years experience, over 450 reviews on trip advisor, and 7000 satisfied guests.
- They are pioneers in integrating modern and ancient medicine, indigenous healers from the Andes and Amazon with doctors, psychologists, and nurses.
- They maintain the tradition and authenticity of ancient healing practices, working with highly experienced Shipibo and Qero healers, based on Inca cosmovision.
Price: Starting at $625
Click here if Etnikas is right for you
10. Nihue Rao Centro Espiritual, Portugal
Situated In The Lush Portuguese Forest, Nihue Rao Centro Espiritual Is An Ayahuasca Retreat Center That Offers Traditional Ayahuasca Ceremonies With A Focus On Spiritual Growth And Self-Awareness.
Their healing ayahuasca retreats consist of master plants, traditional Shipibo diets, and ayahuasca ceremonies.
They are specialists in shamanic treatment under the guidance of master healer and ayahuasquero Ricardo Amaringo.
The integrative healing center also provides training in Amazonian shamanism and opportunities for visionary art.
The Center Also Offers A Range Of Other Plant Medicines, Including Kambo, Sananga, And Mapacho. Nihue Rao Is Renowned For Its Experienced Shamans And Beautiful Location.
Starting at $1500.00
11. The Inner Evolution Center, Netherlands
The Inner Evolution Center In The Netherlands Is Another Excellent Ayahuasca Retreat Center That Provides A Supportive Environment For Healing And Personal Growth.
The Center Offers Both Ayahuasca And Mushroom Ceremonies, Allowing Visitors To Choose Which Plant Medicine Resonates With Them.
The process lasts from 4 to 6 hours, and the taking of Ayahuasca forms the basis between 21:00 and 22:00. Where it is necessary to provide one or two cups of ‘booster’ to access a complete experience, this will be provided an hour and a half after the beginning of the session.
In cases where a third cup is shared, it will be as long as three hours have passed since the first. Ayahuasca is a gift of Amazonian nature shared during the sessions at no additional cost.
The facilitator will determine the doses according to the needs of each participant.
The Experienced Facilitators At The Center Provide Guidance And Support Throughout The Retreat.
Price: Email for pricing
Effects of ayahuasca
The effects of Ayahuasca can vary greatly from person to person, but common experiences include vivid visions, including colors and shapes, introspection, emotional release, and spiritual insights.
Ayahuasca is often referred to as a “teacher plant” due to its potential to uncover deep-seated traumas, patterns, and unresolved emotions.
It can lead to profound personal transformation, enhanced self-awareness, and a renewed sense of purpose.
There is no safe level of drug use. The use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.
Ayahuasca affects everyone differently, based on:
- size, weight, and health
- whether the person is used to taking it
- whether other drugs are taken around the same time
- the amount taken
- the strength of the decoction (varies from batch to batch)
- environment (where the drug is taken).
The effects of ayahuasca can last between 4- to 6 hours and may include:
- nausea and vomiting (induced by drinking the decoction)*
- feelings of connection and unity
- intense visual and auditory hallucinations
- experiencing powerful emotions
- panic and fear
- moderate increase in blood pressure and heart rate increased body temperature.
When ayahuasca is taken in a traditional or ritual setting, these effects may be perceived as cleansing or purging and a part of the spiritual or healing journey.
Some people may have negative experiences taking psychedelics, or experiences they find challenging.
This can include experiencing:
- frightening or confronting hallucinations
- intense anxiety and confusion
- fear and paranoia
These experiences may be understood or interpreted differently in a traditional or ritual context, where they may be seen as lessons and part of a spiritual or healing journey rather than wholly negative.
Ayahuasca does not appear to have a negative impact on the body. Existing research indicates that long-term use of ayahuasca is not associated with a loss of cognitive functioning or negative mental health outcomes.
Mixing ayahuasca with other drugs
The effects of taking ayahuasca with other drugs − including over-the-counter, prescribed medications, and cannabis− can be unpredictable and dangerous.
Ayahuasca Vs Mushrooms:
It’s worth noting that while Ayahuasca and mushrooms are both powerful plant medicines that can facilitate profound healing experiences, they are not the same thing.
Ayahuasca is a brew made from two Amazonian plants, while mushrooms (or psilocybin) are naturally occurring psychedelics found in certain fungi.
Both can offer transformative experiences, but the ceremonies and experiences are different.
It’s important to do your research and choose the plant medicine and retreat center that aligns with your goals and intentions for healing and personal growth.
Why Attend an Ayahuasca Retreat?
There are a number of reasons why people choose to attend an Ayahuasca retreat.
Unlike other psychedelic substances, such as mushrooms, Ayahuasca is known for producing extremely profound and transformative experiences that can help people achieve greater levels of self-awareness, self-discovery, and personal growth.
Ayahuasca provides a strong connection to the natural world, you will experience deep insights and revelations, along with a heightened sense of empathy and compassion for others.
Attending an Ayahuasca retreat is also a great way to connect with other people who are on a similar journey of personal growth and transformation.
The retreat setting provides a safe and supportive environment where you can explore your innermost thoughts and emotions, and receive guidance and support from experienced facilitators and healers.
Overall, if you’re looking for a powerful and transformative experience that can help you achieve greater levels of self-awareness and personal growth, attending an Ayahuasca retreat could be the perfect choice for you.
So if you’re ready to embark on this journey of self-discovery, start researching the best Ayahuasca retreats and get ready for an unforgettable experience.
What to Expect at an Ayahuasca Retreat
If you’re considering attending an Ayahuasca retreat, it’s important to know what to expect.
One of the main differences between Ayahuasca and other psychedelics like mushrooms is that Ayahuasca is taken in a ceremonial setting under the guidance of a shaman or healer.
The ceremony usually takes place at night and involves drinking a brew of the Ayahuasca plant. The shaman will then lead your group through a series of rituals and songs designed to help you connect with plant medicine and the spirit world.
During the Ayahuasca experience, you can expect to have intense and vivid hallucinations, which can be both beautiful and terrifying.
Many people report feeling a deep sense of connectedness to nature and the universe, as well as profound insights into their own lives and purpose even speaking with deceased relatives or those whom you need closure from.
One of the key differences between Ayahuasca and mushrooms is the length of the experience. While a mushroom trip may only last a few hours, an Ayahuasca ceremony can last all night, with effects lasting up to 12 hours.
This can be both physically and emotionally demanding, so it’s important to prepare yourself mentally and physically beforehand.
Overall, attending an Ayahuasca retreat can be a life-changing experience, but it’s not for everyone.
It’s important to do your research and find a reputable and experienced shaman or healer who can guide you safely through the experience.
Tips for Choosing the Best Ayahuasca Retreat
If you’re planning to attend an Ayahuasca retreat, you must make sure that you choose the right one for you.
Ayahuasca is a powerful and intense psychedelic brew, so it’s important to find a safe and reputable retreat center. Here are some tips to help you choose the best Ayahuasca retreat:
- Research the Retreat Center – Before booking any retreat, research the center and read reviews from previous participants. Check if they are certified and licensed to offer Ayahuasca ceremonies. Look for a center that has experienced facilitators, and medical professionals, and has a strong safety protocol.
- Choose Between Ayahuasca vs Mushrooms – Ayahuasca and mushrooms are both entheogens that offer powerful healing experiences. However, the effects and experiences are very different. Ayahuasca is known to provide a longer and more intense experience, while mushrooms tend to offer a more gentle experience. Choose a retreat center that offers your preferred substance.
- Determine the Duration of the Retreat – Retreat centers vary in duration, ranging from a weekend to weeks. Consider the length of your trip and the amount of time you can commit to a retreat.
- Check the Schedule of the Retreat – Look for a retreat that offers a well-structured schedule. This includes the number of ceremonies, yoga, meditation, and integration sessions. The retreat should have a well-organized program that ensures that you get the best possible experience.
- Choose a Retreat Location – Ayahuasca retreat centers are available all over the world, including South America, North America, and Europe. Choose a location that is convenient for you. South American retreats are generally the most traditional, while North American and European retreats tend to have more modern approaches.
Health and Safety
There is no safe way to use psychedelic drugs, including ayahuasca. If you do decide to take ayahuasca, it’s important to consider the following.
- It is difficult to predict the strength and effects of ayahuasca. People can have very different experiences taking the same drug on different occasions.
- People with mental health conditions or a family history of these conditions should avoid using ayahuasca.
- Sometimes other drugs may be sold claiming to be ayahuasca that isn’t.
- Taking ayahuasca in an environment and with people where you feel safe may alleviate unpleasant emotional effects.
Use of ayahuasca is likely to be more dangerous when:
- taken in combination with alcohol or other drugs
- driving or operating heavy machinery
- judgment or motor coordination is required
- alone (in case medical assistance is required)
- the person has mental health issues.
Is ayahuasca illegal in the U.S.?
While the ayahuasca plant is legal in the United States, its active ingredient (DMT) is considered a Schedule I substance — making ayahuasca illegal in accordance with federal law.
A handful of ayahuasca retreats in the U.S. have bypassed this legislation by establishing themselves as an ‘independent Native American church.’
These retreats have submitted petitions for religious exemptions to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), as a way to invoke their right to the free exercise of religion (so they can ingest ayahuasca ‘legally’ during their ceremonies).
Glossary of Terms
Ceremonial house. A 360-degree circular hut-like facility wherein passengers lying on mats, gather together around to receive the Ayahuasca brew while reverently listening to the singing of icaros from the shamans.
A Learning Place. Here Diverse Expressions Of Art And Culture Are Performed Daily And Practiced. Also Used For Taking Shipibo Culture Classes.
A Blend Of Two Master Plants, The Ayahuasca Vine And A Shrub Called Chacruna. According To The Shipibo Ancient Tradition Master Plants Have Their Own Spirit.
Trees And Plants Hold Special Power Significance And Spiritual Guidance That Have Been Used For A Long Time And Memorialized By Healers To Treat Various Ailments.
The Way We Address All People Of The World Coming To Our Spiritual Center On Their Spiritual Journey.
A Cigar Is Used Throughout The Diet To Blow Away Bad Energies This Smoke Cleanses Both The Dieter And The Tambo Or Ceremonial Maloca.
Amazonian Shamanic Tradition Believes That Master Pants Speak To Those With The Gift Of Expanded Senses And Perception.
Bano De Florecimiento (Flower Bath)
Frequently Made Of A Rare Mixture Of Healing Herbs Recommended Throughout The Duration Of The Diet To Cool The Body Of All Toxins And Bad Energies Being Released.
Bad Energies Deposit A Real Crust Of Time And Memory Blocking And Staining The Transparency Of The Soul. The First Step In Ayahuasca Spiritual Healing Is Peeling Off The Crust Layer By Layer Thus Allowing Us To Get In Close Contact With Our Soul And Therefore Making An Opening To The Sacred Energy Of The Eternal Spirit.
A Spiritual Right That Is The Next Level Of Healing After Having Worked With Ayahuasca In Ceremonial Groups. Our Staff Will Help You Know What Master Plant Can Suit Your Healing Or Training Intention. A Strict Meal Diet Consists Of Fish, Rice, And Plantains. No Salt Or Oil Is Added To Any Meal.
Conclusion: Best Ayahuasca Retreats for Self-Discovery
Embarking on an Ayahuasca retreat can be a life-changing experience for those seeking profound insights and personal growth.
By choosing a reputable retreat center and understanding the differences between Ayahuasca and mushrooms, individuals can make informed decisions about their journey of self-discovery.
Remember to prioritize safety and preparation.
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