5 Best Ayahuasca Retreats in Costa Rica
If you've felt ayahuasca calling and you're trying to decide which retreat is best for you there is a lot to consider before making a decision. While researching different retreat options you are likely to come across lists of 'best ayahuasca retreats in Costa Rica' or centers promising miracles.
The truth is, that's bullshit.
How do you quantify a miracle, anyway? When miracle rates are boasted to the accuracy of the second decimal, it's a pretty clear sign it's a marketing gimmick, and maybe it's important to ask yourself why they're trying so hard to sell you something.
If you find yourself reading a 'best' list, ask yourself what connection the author has to the retreat in the #1 slot. There is a good chance they are the owner of the retreat or have a financial incentive or personal bias. What I can promise you is that no 'best' list has been written by a neutral party that attended every retreat in Costa Rica and ranked them based on experience. Even if that was the case, it wouldn't mean that whatever retreat they ranked as best overall would be the best for you.
There is no one size fits all in regards to ayahuasca retreats in Costa Rica or anywhere in the world. What is important is that you find a retreat that resonates with you and you usually know by having some gut reaction or response when reading the website, seeing pictures, or getting to know the facilitators.
Instead of listing the '5 best retreats in Costa Rica' I'm going to give you a list of the 5 most important things to consider when choosing an ayahuasca retreat.
1. Experience/Facilitators - The first thing is to determine how qualified the facilitators/shaman are to guide the ceremony. How long have they been doing the work? Where were they trained? What traditions do they follow? (the big 3 are Peruvian(Shipibo), Brazilian(Santo Diame), and Colombian(Yage) If the ceremonies follow Peruvian traditions, ask how many and which master plants have been dieted. What are the ceremonies like? How long are the ceremonies, is the music live or recorded? Are the same facilitators at every ceremony? Do the facilitators/shaman drink the medicine with the group? These are all great questions to ask if you can't find the information already available on the website.
The facilitator should always drink the medicine at every ceremony. The whole function of a shaman is to bridge the spiritual gap between this world and beyond. If they are not drinking, its likely because they arent properly trained and would not be able to function as a guide under the effects of the medicine.
The music should always be live, not recorded. A recorded song can not invoke the spirits. When someone who is trained with the medicine sings during the ceremony, they are calling to the spirits of plants they've worked with or to spiritual allies for a specific purpose, sometimes for protection, for healing, for strength, etc. A playlist cannot communicate with the spirits.
2. Group Size - Ayahuasca retreats can range in size from 1 to 100 participants. That is not an exaggeration. Some retreats will really have ceremonies with up to or over 100 participants. People end up at ayahuasca retreats because they want to work through something. All that energy (and purging) is being released into a single energetic container and you will be sharing that space. Think about how many people you feel comfortable sitting with because it will have a huge impact on your experience. The ayahuasca experience is personal, yes, but has a collective element. Due to the nature of shared energy at the retreats, we often see our groups unintentionally work through specific themes during the ceremonies and because they are able to get to know one another on an individual basis, they are able to support each other as well as feel supported on their our own journey. It's a beautiful dynamic that is impossible to achieve when numbers begin to exceed 20 participants. You just can't get to know that many people in a meaningful way in a week.
An ideal range is between 10 - 20 participants. Less than 10 and a sense of community can get lost, more than 20 and there is too much energy to the point of being chaotic regardless of how many facilitators are on hand. More than 30 participants and profit is the priority at the sacrifice of the guest experience.
3. Prices/Costs - Costa Rica is very expensive and some costs associated with operating in this country cant be mitigated. Factors such as rent, staff salaries, utilities, food, transportation, fees, and medicine can't be reduced and must be considered when centers set their pricing structures. How many participants in a group could also impact that number. For example, if a retreat has small, there is less overall expense to operate but also less overall income to distribute toward those expenses. If a group takes 35 people, they might be able to offer a more economical price because they have a higher overall profit margin. However, there are certainly cases where the price of the retreat is not justifiable by any means and is driven solely for profit which can become pretty evident when you start to do the simple math of participants x average retreat price. There are many other factors that can impact pricing including accommodation types (shared vs private, standard vs luxury) and additional services offered (Yoga, massage, trips).
The standard (and fair) range for a 7-day ayahuasca retreat with 3 ceremonies in Costa Rica in 2023 is between $2500 - $5000.
More expensive does not equal a better experience. We are conditioned to think that a higher-priced item intrinsically has a greater value, while this is usually true to some degree, it is not always the case. There are a number of factors that could impact pricing.
Make sure you have clarity on what is included in the retreat price. Many retreats charge an additional fee for ceremonial work that is not factored into the list price.
4. Safety & Reputation - In regard to safety we consider not only physical but also emotional, and energetic safety. If you are considering an ayahuasca retreat it's very likely you've heard the horror stories of sexual abuse and even deaths occurring at retreat centers around the world. I wish I could say those stories were exaggerated but unfortunately, they are true and fairly commonplace in the psychedelic community, especially in Peru where the culture is very different from that in the West. Costa Rica is no exception and there have been stories of misconduct at various retreats. Check the reviews and filter from the lowest rating first. Then check other community resources, like Facebook ayahuasca groups and Reddit threads. Another thing to consider is unethical practices, which include pushing sales when people are in a very raw and vulnerable state. Vice even put out an article detailing multiple accounts of abuse and misconduct at one of the largest retreats in Costa Rica. All this is to say simply, do your due diligence. It might require a little digging, but the information is available if you look for it. Ayahuasca can strip you down into your most fragile state so it is extremely important that you feel completely safe, secure, and nurtured in the environment that you choose.
Speak to a real human before you book. There is an intuitive response when you speak with someone directly that can help you determine if a retreat is a good fit for you. The approach and intimacy of the booking process will reflect the approach and intimacy of the retreat.
Only book with a place that has a medical screening process and safety protocols.
Verify there is a least one woman facilitator/assistant on site and in the ceremonies, even if you are a man. This will reveal what considerations have been taken overall to ensure the comfort and safety of all participants and what you can expect to receive, even if you are male.
5. Extras - What additional or supportive therapies are available? While extras shouldn't be what determines if you do or do not attend a particular retreat, it is something to consider when deciding what experience you want to have. Retreats may include yoga, breathwork, meditation, massage, integration circles, other plant medicines, kambo, temazcal (sweat lodge), sound therapy, nature excursions, etc. Some retreats are all-inclusive while others let you choose and add on specific activities or therapies for an additional fee. Some include transportation, while others don't. All things to consider when factoring in pricing as well.
The retreat should always have ayahuasca at the heart. Make sure that you are comfortable with the structure and schedule of the retreat. Ayahuasca requires a lot of energy and you don't want to over-exhaust yourself. Always reserve time for processing and reflection.
Avoid mixing plant medicines - this may be a little controversial since it has become fairly commonplace to offer San Pedro at ayahuasca retreats, but it is our experience and opinion that when you go to retreat, you make a commitment and enter a relationship with the spirit of ayahuasca, and the integrity of that bond should be prioritized and respected through the journey from start to end.
5-MEO (Bufo Alvarius) and ayahuasca should not be combined.
Hopefully, this guide helps you determine what you should be looking for in a retreat and clarify what is most important to you when choosing a retreat experience. If you have any questions regarding our ayahuasca retreat in Costa Rica, please reach out.
AYAHUASCA COSTA RICA 2024
We are located less than a mile from one of Costa Rica's gorgeous beaches on the Pacific Coast. Nestled on the hillside, we have incredible ocean views and picturesque sunsets visible from every room.
Our expansive facility offers a comfortable environment for such an intense process. We offer both private and shared accommodations. We have communal areas to socialize, a large pool, a fire pit, a lounge area, an outdoor kitchen, and miles of hiking trails.
All meals are prepared with care by Jeanae using locally grown and sourced ingredients. We follow a relaxed ayahuasca diet, providing food that is vegan, nutritious, colorful, and flavorful.
WiFi is available although we discourage the use of electronics prior to the ceremony to focus on the intention for the journey ahead.
We limit our ayahuasca retreat groups to 14 so we can provide individualized attention and support.
AN INCLUSIVE CENTER FOR HEALING
Matthew and I have been partners in this work since 2014.
Everything in our lives has been shaped by Ayahuasca. Not only did she lift us up in our darkest moments after years of battling addiction, but she gave us the purest gift of love in finding each other.
We've had our share of ups and downs. Things haven't always been easy. It's been a long road and we've had to navigate many personal and professional challenges over the years. But at the end of the day, ayahuasca has helped us cultivate a deep love rooted in mutual respect, support, and admiration.
We've turned to her to help us through trials of marriage and personal doubt. It's because of this work that we've been able to grow stronger as individuals and as partners, lovers, and best friends.
We hear all the time from guests that they don't understand how we can do this work, and while we love to help others, the truth is that it's just a happy by-product of helping ourselves. It's our hope that as we continue to heal we are able to better support you in your own healing.
Working with ayahuasca is truly humbling. It's not a responsibility we take lightly. Our program is designed to give you a curated balance of support and space.
Thank you for letting us share the magic.
THE AYAHUASCA CEREMONY
The goal of our ceremonies is to create a safe and therapeutic atmosphere that encourages each participant to explore and journey within themselves, to confront the darkness, and embrace the light. It is only through this duality and embracing all parts of ourselves that we can truly know ourselves and find balance.
Our ayahuasquero Matthew leads all of our ceremonies. Matthew has been involved with plant medicine since 2011, first with Ibogaine in Mexico on HBO's VICE and then again in Costa Rica. In 2014 he felt called to work more intimately with ayahuasca and started traveling to Peru, completing plant medicine dietas under the guidance of his teacher, famed shaman Don Ron Wheelock.
Matthew has completed many master plant dietas, has facilitated hundreds of ceremonies, and has evolved into a strong and compassionate ceremonial leader. He strives to create a safe healing environment for all our participants.
Our ceremonies are performed in darkness and are guided by Icaros, or medicine songs. Each ceremony begins with cleansing rituals to prepare the space. From there, the night is guided through Matthew's powerful Icaros along accompanied by a variety of other instruments.
Matthew drinks the brew at every ceremony so he can navigate and guide the energy of the room. Jeanae and a minimum of 2 additional helpers are always there to assist as needed.
BENEFITS OF AYAHUASCA
Enhance your life and find balance with a traditional ayahuasca retreat 2024 in beautiful Costa Rica. Our all-inclusive programs have been curated to provide authentic ceremonies, yoga, and nature excursions in a uniquely intimate setting. An ayahuasca retreat can bring about intense emotions and revelations that can lead to a better life. The only thing you need is an open mind and the intention to have an experience that can shift your perspective, enhance your awareness of life and elevate your spirituality.
In more recent years, ayahuasca has been studied for its unique ability to treat depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction. Because of the ways ayahuasca can offer renewed perspectives of life, users are able to see a path forward that had previously been veiled. This shift in mindset provides an opportunity to reflect on past experiences/traumas/histories in a different light and from a place of peace
We have carefully tailored our retreat to provide a memorable and therapeutic experience for all our guests.
It is our highest priority to make you feel comfortable, safe, secure, and supported in our ceremonial environment.
Check out our video testimonials and reviews from past ayahuasca retreat participants.
We hope you will join us soon!