If you are reading this, it means you are considering an Ayahuasca retreat in Peru. And for that I wish to congratulate you, as herein lies one of the most powerful, life-changing events we, as humans, could ever hope to experience. Whether our struggle be with substance abuse or addiction, varying degrees of depression no amount of therapy could fix, loss or grief we cannot move past, or simply the calling to expand our consciousness. Without a measure of doubt, you will never be the same after drinking Ayahuasca.

The reasons a person chooses to drink Ayahuasca are vast, as we are all unique individuals with our own backstory. Thus, one doesn’t have to be “messed up” and in need of great healing to partake in Ayahuasca, though that is sometimes the case. We could be a happy, content human being who’s never had any trauma, afflictions or heartache. Or we might be at our wit’s end, with no or little hope at ever finding or regaining a happy life. What unifies each seeker, however, is a yearning for change and self-discovery. A desire to grow on an emotional and spiritual level so we can better understand our place in this crazy world, in the hopes we can finally see ourselves in a much higher light. That’s what I wanted, anyway. And Ayahuasca will give us whatever it is we are intending to find, be it healing, letting go of whatever needs letting go of, or just to experience it for the sake of experience. It is a journey that has no end, and knows no bounds.

When I told my family I was going to spend a month in the rainforest drinking Ayahuasca, the first response I got was fear. Their fear. The dangers and the horrors of what could, and has gone terribly wrong! I could die!  Didn’t I care? Ayahuasca is a drug, for god’s sake, and drugs are bad unless approved by the FDA! Etc. and so forth came the woes of their utter dismay, and paranoid assumptions. Do yourself a favor, fellow seekers, and ignore the naysayers. Better yet, if up against such cynics, keep your personal journey to yourself. Because first and foremost, this adventure is all about you! Follow your heart and educate yourself by taking the time to do some research. The rest will fall naturally into place.

For those who are unclear, Ayahuasca is a medicine, not a drug, and has been used by the indigenous people of the Amazon region for thousands of years. It is a brew made by boiling the leaves of the plant Psychotria viridis, together with a vine called Banisteriopsis caapi. The end result is an extremely potent tea containing a psychedelic chemical compound known as DMT, which is structurally similar to serotonin, and also occurs endogenously in the human brain before birth, while we dream, and upon death. But what does that even mean? If DMT is released during dream states, that’s an enormous complexity of any and everything is possible, right? Right. Therefore one cannot adequately explain the infinite types of experiences one can, and will have, under the influence of Ayahuasca. You must discover it for yourself.

Having made the decision to ingest the Vine of the Soul, as Ayahuasca is often referred, I began my research. This came in the form of YouTube, where I spent five hours watching one testimonial after another, which led me to various articles online, which led me to find the right retreat center for me.

Ayahuasca is a consciousness unto itself, the most sacred of plants, and deserving the utmost respect. So if you’re going down this road, I highly advise you to find a retreat center that is long-standing, whose reputation is outstanding, and who only employ shamans of the same caliber. Don’t just pull a retreat out of a hat.  If you required surgery, wouldn’t you want the most qualified surgeons? Indeed you would. After all, your very life is in their hands.

This is no different.



Your center has been chosen, and the date set for your Ayahuasca retreat in Peru. Now comes the part of getting ready.
When browsing various center websites, I found it pretty standard to avoid the following at least one week before ceremony: fried foods, spicy foods, fermented foods, caffeine, canned or packaged meat and fish, liquid and powdered protein supplements, brewer’s yeast and yeast based supplements, dairy, overripe fruits, sugar, processed foods, excessive salt, and sexual contact. Yes, you read that last one correctly. Also, it is advised to stop alcohol and recreational drugs, including marijuana, at least two weeks prior to ceremony. Stopping for longer than two weeks, however, certainly won’t hurt.
Full-disclosure moment. One of the reasons I traveled to Peru to drink the jungle brew was to lose my dysfunctional love affair with alcohol. Therefore…..no way did I abstain for two weeks prior! In fact, I drank right up to the eleventh hour. But my diet, other than that, had been exceptional for a very long time: all organic, not much dairy, hardly anything processed or fermented, no meats except chicken and fish a few times a year, plenty of fruits and veggies, sparse amounts of sugar and marijuana, and regular exercise. When I read what foods to avoid I thought, hell yes! I’ve practically been on an Ayahuasca diet for years now and didn’t even know it! This’ll be a cakewalk as far as the purging process goes. Woo hoo!
Or not.
Never in my life have I experienced a physical flush like the one I got during my month with Ayahuasca. Never. In. My. Life. Where was all this stuff coming from? I hardly ate anything for days and days, yet the gunk kept rushing full force on out of me!
Apparently, especially for us first timers, even if we have relatively clean lifestyles and follow the recommended pre-diet plan, no one escapes the almighty purge. Ayahuasca saturates into every nook and cranny in the body; into every cell and atom, through each organ and vessel, right on down to the very marrow of our bones, extracting everything that doesn’t belong there; toxicity from foods, our environment, a lifetime of stress and bad habits, you name it. She’ll scour your body like a fine tooth comb until there’s nothing toxic left.
Definitely, be prepared for that!
Another thing I did was set my intentions on what I wanted. Aside from the alcohol issue, I longed to feel alive again. Having spent too many years dealing with one trauma-drama after another, I had lost my zest for life. I didn’t care if a bus flattened me to the pavement on any given day, and had become extremely bored with the yawning monotony of day to day reality. Earth sucked. People sucked. Everything sucked. I also wanted my creative fire to spark back to life, as I had lost it some time ago. For a creative person, when inspiration goes dark, it’s like someone snatched every rainbow and flower from the world and turned off the sun. Totally bleak.
Outside of those immediate personal needs, I also wished to see my father, who had passed away, and maybe tap into some previous lifetimes if possible.
The last thing I did before I left, and this might sound a little corny to some, was I started having conversations with Ayahuasca. Being the embodiment of wisdom and healing I knew her to be, I confessed all my icky garbage, what I wanted help with, and asked her to show me everything I needed to see in order to grow, no matter how ugly and unpleasant.
So there you have it. Pretty easy to prepare, right? Clean up the diet, quit the booze and drugs, and set intentions.
One last thing…try not to be afraid. I get that’s easier said than done, but just know that you are safe and protected. Remember to trust in the process, breathe in deep, and relax. Life, as you know it to be, is about to change forever. Enjoy it, my friends. This is the opportunity of a lifetime! One you won’t regret.

Related article:  Ayahuasca Retreat What is it? 


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