You’ve decided to do an Ayahuasca retreat in Peru. Check. Now comes the next big step of, where the heck to go? As there are so many centers to choose from down there, it can be a truly daunting task in finding the right one for you.
I knew very little about Ayahuasca when I began to plan my trip, let alone which center would be best for me. So after listening to a few dozen testimonials on YouTube, and reading one article after another about Ayahuasca, I hit retreat center websites and began my search.
First off, what kind of a center was I looking for? Did I want one who had female shamans, because that is available, or did that matter? For me, it didn’t really matter. What I valued most, in regards to the shamans, was that they hailed from the rainforest, had extensive training under their belt….as in not an eight-week crash course, (and yes, those do exist!), and most importantly, were of pure heart and soul. I’ll be the first to admit, upon hearing the word, shaman, I naively assumed this kind of person was only here to do good and be of service to others. After all, they travel into dimensions I’ve yet to touch upon, heal the unhealable, pull entities from people, can play with the energies of the cosmos and communicate with beings not of our world. This stuff is incredibly impressive! Yet just because someone is a shaman, in no way does that imply they have benevolent intentions. A shaman might be able to master the arts of energy and healing, but they are still just human like you and me; capable of extremely benevolent acts…and the exact opposite. Which was why I got keen on what previous guests of centers had to say. If their experience with the shamans was a positive one, I added that center to my list of possibilities
Next, I wanted to know the maximum amount of people allowed in a ceremony. Some places have dozens of participants, while others have even more. I wanted mine simple, low-key, intimate and cozy; no more than fifteen, ten was even better. This narrowed my search down a bit and helped me ex out loftier centers, which had various perks such as art therapy, yoga classes, daily steam, and floral baths, massage, etc. Those things are totally awesome, but the amount of people flocking to such a center exceeded the intimate atmosphere I was looking for. If I want yoga, I can do it myself. If I want art therapy, I’ll take my mandala coloring books with me…which I did.
Next, I wanted to make sure a medical intake form was required. If a center, at the very least, doesn’t ask you about current or past medications… DO NOT GO THERE! A huge red flag of gross negligence. Anti-depressant’s, for example, is a major contraindication when drinking Ayahuasca. The two are not friends, and never will be.
In conclusion, I wanted a center that was peaceful. One that allowed me space and solitude to process each ceremony, as well as the company of wise shamans to process these changes with me. I wanted the comfort of knowing I was safe, protected and watched over.
Talk to the owners of prospective centers and ask questions. If they are devoted to their retreat, they will be more than happy to connect with you via chat, email or telephone, as needed to ensure you make the right decision for you. If they feel you might be better suited at another center, they will refer you out. If you wish to speak directly to past guests, ask if this can be arranged. Firsthand experience is always refreshing and was a major factor in solidifying my retreat.
Most importantly, and I cannot express this enough, listen to your heart and let your intuition guide you. You are in charge of you, and feeling things out. Knowledge is power! Do the legwork, research sites, ask questions, and the next step of your wondrous journey will soon begin.

 

Related article: How to Prepare for an Ayahuasca Retreat