Welcome back to our guide on choosing an ayahuasca retreat. In PART 1 and PART 2 we covered location, accommodation, shaman, ceremony, the brew and dosing. In our third and final chapter we will cover factors like retreat prices, duration, safety and reputation.
PRICES – Prices for an ayahuasca retreat can vary significantly based on a number of factors, many of which we have already mentioned (location, accommodation, facilitator etc.) A retreat in the jungle at a bare-bones camp will surely cost less than a retreat at a luxury resort. The cost of living in whichever country you choose will be a factor, as will the duration of the retreat and any extra therapies that are offered (yoga, massage, Kambo, breathwork, bodywork etc.) All factors considered, most ayahuasca retreats will fall somewhere in the $1000 - $3000 range for an average duration of 5-10 days. Be sure to ask if the retreat has any additional charges. Some centers will charge a base price for accommodations and then let the participant add services in an ‘al-a-carte’ fashion to customize their retreat at an additional cost.
We often see comments from people that are angry at retreat centers for charging for something that the earth gives for free. While we understand the sentiment behind these kinds of statements, it is important to remember that outside of the medicine, each retreat has overhead that needs to be considered (rent, utilities, food, staff etc.)
Additionally, when a shaman or ayahuasquero works in a ceremony, there is a vast amount of energy expelled. It is egocentric to expect that kind of work should be given to you for free. Even if you went to the jungle on your own and managed to find an experienced indigenous shaman who was willing to drink with you, they would still expect some kind of compensation for the time and work they put into the ceremony and healing.
LENGTH– Most centers will offer different retreat lengths but how do you determine which duration you should attend or how many ceremonies you want to sit for? Retreats can range for 3 – 30 days but the most common retreats are 5 – 8 days with 2 or 3 ceremonies. This seems to be a very appropriate amount for first-time participants. Drinking ayahuasca can be difficult so unless you have the experience or are extremely committed to the process, any retreat over 10 days with more than 3-4 ceremonies might be too much. At NLA we offer 5 and 7 day retreats and even during the 7 day retreats we usually have a least a few participants that opt out of the 3rd ceremony because the feel they have too much to process from the first 2 experiences. The duration of the retreat really depends on the individual person and how the medicine sits with you.
SAFETY PROTOCOL – Ayahuasca is generally considered to be very safe when used responsibly, but there are some medical conditions and medications that should not be combined with ayahuasca. Some interactions could be life threatening so it is extremely important that the center you choose has some kind of safety protocol in place. Are you asked to provide any medical history or disclose medications you may be taking? How would the center respond to a medical emergency? Does the staff have any experience responding to emergency situations? Have there ever been any incidents at the retreat? How far is the nearest medical facility? At the very least, every center should ask about any medications you may be taking as that is the biggest concern in regards ayahuasca safety.
REPUTATION – Lastly, consider the overall reputation of the center. How long have they been operating? Do that have written or video testimonials? Are there reviews from multiple sources? (Google, Facebook, Retreat.guru, Website etc.) Search the name of the center and its facilitators to see if there have been any negative reports written about the center or staff. Before you book do you actually speak with someone from the center or is everything done online? You can always reach out to different communities to ask specific questions about any center you may be considering. Don’t be afraid to speak up! Ayahuasca has been growing in popularity and it is far more available now that years past but it is still one of the most powerful hallucinogens on earth, so be sure to do your due diligence and be completely confident in the retreat center you choose.
PART 3 SUMMARY
What price options are available?
What is included in the price?
Are any additional therapies offered?
What are the lengths of the retreats and how many ceremonies?
Are you required to provide basic medical information/disclose medications?
How far is the nearest medical facility?
How long has the center been in business?
What kind of reviews do they have?
We know that you have many options when choosing an ayahuasca retreat. We hope this ultimate guide to choosing an ayahuasca retreat can help you navigate the process and give you basic suggestions on things you may want to know about whichever center you choose. I have tried the write this article with as little bias as possible as I know no single retreat is ‘one size fits all’. Follow your heart and it will take you where you are meant to go.