Scott Karl Petersen is the Founder and Director of Refugio Altiplano. Scott grew up in Michigan and took his first trip to South America when he was 17, to teach English in Quito, Ecuador for the summer. When the program was over in September, he decided to take the next semester off from college and travel over-land by bus and train from Quito to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The trip was the beginning of a life-long love affair with South America.
When he returned to Michigan he studied philosophy, anthropology and literature at Calvin College, University of California, and the University of New Mexico. He later studied herbal and shamanic medicine in New Mexico, Arizona and California with the Taos, Navajo and Hopi Indians in the Native American Church. He continued his shamanic and medicine studies in Brazil, Nepal and Indonesia, and lived in Bolivia and the Peruvian Andes for eight years, working and doing research on healing and belief systems.
He worked with Shipibo and coastal shamans in Peru for seven years before finding the ideal location for Refugio Altiplano, and establishing our location near Tamshiyacu, Peru in 1996. Scott is a multi-cultural shaman, dedicated to the comprehensive
healing and inspiration of each patient and student, and to manifesting positive results for each individual. He works with other Peruvian shamans who contribute to our ceremonies. Some of the most highly respected native shamans in Peru work with Scott at the Refugio. Many clients who originally came to the Refugio for a short vacation now visit three ti
mes a year, to purify and recharge their bodies, minds and souls, and meet the challenges and opportunities presented to us on this rapidly changing and sacred planet Earth. Scott lives at Refugio Altiplano all year, coordinating its operations, employees, teachers, shamans and guests.
Scott teaches various subjects including shamanism, use of rainforest plants and medicines and guides our clients with a modern, occidental style of counselling. Scott is a key citizen of the surrounding communities and provides jobs, income and guidance for our neighbours. He counsels families and individuals, and meets with village elders to resolve community problems and plan projects.
People make the difference in any organization and we are proud of the authentic, talented individuals who work with us. We have full-time, year round employees at both Refugio Altiplano and our office in downtown Iquitos.
Mariela, Pamela, Danica, Nanet, and Gelly staff the Iquitos office 7 days a week to serve our guests. They meet new clients when they arrive in Iquitos and also work constantly to resupply the Refugio with clean drinking water and fresh food from the Iquitos market and the surrounding communities.
There is another, larger, full-time group of employees at Refugio Altiplano, providing security, maintaining the buildings and grounds, cooking and serving meals to guests and workers, cleaning the houses, doing laundry, preparing the plant medicines, leading excursions and doing anything else possible to make your stay comfortable and memorable.
From the hundreds of native shamans available, We work with a select few who meet our requirements of extensive experience, talent, connection with the spirit world and professional integrity. In order to do this, Scott frequently travels throughout the region, attending ceremonies and consulting with other shamans, healers and friends to be aware and acquainted with peers in the Peruvian shamanic community.
Jose has been involved in shamanic healing for twenty years, and has developed a deep understanding of the Ayahuasca medicine. He is now considered an accomplished ayahuascero. His singing is powerful and inspiring. Jose lives in the nearby village of Tarapaca where he has an important role as coordinator within the local community.
Rosando grew up in the Shipibo tradition and tribe near Pucalpa, in the Amazon basin south of Iquitos. He has been attending ayahuasca ceremonies for over 30 years, and working as a healer for most of his life. Rosando’s singing of icaros in the Shipibo dialect invites the spirits into the ceremony with a grace and connection that has to be experienced to be believed.
The Supporting Staff at the Center
Our excellent supporting staff of gardeners, carpenters, security, chefs, and cleaners are dedicated to the care and comfort of every guest.
Board of Advisors
In order to assist the continuing development of the Center, Scott has the assistance of three individuals who have experience in hospitality, business, and healing.
John Easterling is the Owner and Founder of the Amazon Herb Company. John is very familiar with the culture of the Amazon where he harvests the indigenous plants and herbs for the effective healing formulas available from the Amazon Herb company. John provides his wisdom and support as a successful cross-cultural businessman, his years of experience in South America, and knowledge of healing herbs and medicine.
Tom Curren is the founder of the Hawthorne Group and has a long and impressive history of consulting and corporate leadership, including executive management experience at the Marriott Corporation where he led the creation and launch of Courtyard by Marriott. His extensive hospitality experience and appreciation of shamanic healing work provide the Refugio with powerful and in-depth support.
John Welch is an entrepreneur, businessman and therapist. He has executive leadership experience in telecommunications, mental health and hospitality. John’s personal path includes 30 years of training and practice in psychology, spirituality and shamanism, with teachers and peers in Peru and the United States. With this unique combination, John has worked for 12 years with Scott, and they have evolved and refined Refugio Altiplano into the inspired and effective healing center that it is today.