Welcome to PART 1 of our 3 PART series on how to choose an ayahuasca retreat. Let’s start with the basics, where do you want to drink ayahuasca and in what kind of accommodations would you be most comfortable?
LOCATION – The first thing to do is pick a location for your retreat. There are options all over the world, but the primary concentration of retreats are in ayahuasca’s home – the Amazon Rainforest. This seem to be where the majority of ayahuasca seekers naturally gravitate toward and there are a plethora of reputable centers for those whom the jungle calls.
However, there are many factors involved in traveling to the Amazon that can give a cautious traveler cause for concern:
general travel logistics (expenses, long flights & boat rides)
foreign disease (yellow fever, malaria, parasites)
the unknown of the jungle (more boat rides to remote areas) and stories of seedy centers/shaman
lack of access to medical care
Some of these points are not relevant depending on the retreat you choose. Some centers provide transportation to and from the airport while at others you need to make your own way. Some centers are easily accessible from the airport by car or motor taxi but others require lengthy boat rides into remote and secluded areas followed by long hikes into the jungle to find camp.
Drinking ayahuasca and hearing the jungle sing at night can be the most magical experience of a lifetime, but it’s really not for everyone. If you’re the type of person that would feel more comfortable in a more ‘western friendly’ setting, there are plenty of options for you too!
Another thing to consider is the legality of ayahuasca in whichever location you choose. In countries where ayahuasca is legal or unscheduled, there are more centers to choose from. In countries where ayahuasca is illegal, centers or facilitators that offer ceremonies have to operate with discretion thus making them harder to access or be less likely to be tailored to your specific desires.
We chose Costa Rica for our center because it offers a lot of ease for western travelers but still feels like the jungle. Some of the many reasons we love our home:
Easily accessible (short and reasonable flights)
Western friendly (safe, accepts USD)
No Visa or vaccinations are required for entry (from most countries)
No military – peaceful country – Pura Vida!
Beautiful – jungles, mountains, beaches and VIEWS!
Proximity to medical services
Wherever you choose, whether it be the jungles of Peru, an urban setting in a major city or somewhere in between, you are now one step closer to the finding your retreat and you can move on to consider your accommodations.
ACCOMMODATIONS - What type of retreat are you looking for? Basic? Traditional? Eco-retreat? Luxury? How much comfort do you need? Are you looking to go completely off-grid without electricity? Is sustainability more important to you? Do you want to pampered in a 5-star resort? Do you just want to be comfortable and cared for with basic amenities provided? There are options for everyone! Then consider what kind of room you would be most comfortable in.
Most ayahuasca retreats offer a variety of accommodations to choose from with varying price. Some housing types include:
Camping – bring a tent or rent a tent, outdoor/shared bathrooms
Communal bunk house (1-15 people) – shared bathroom
Shared dormitory (1-4 people) – shared bathroom
Private room – private bathroom
Are you looking for a shared experience with others going through the same process? Do you prefer to have your own personal space? How much of a price difference is there in the retreat based on accommodation type? Is having your own bathroom important to you or are you comfortable sharing with multiple participants or using an outhouse? Each center is different and each person is different. Some travelers may find comfort and support in the proximity of the other participants while others prefer to have privacy to reflect on the experience.
There is no right answer but at NLA we always offer private rooms with attached private bathroom. Ayahuasca is a deeply personal experience and we want our guests to be in control of their process and their personal space. We are not a ‘luxury’ retreat but we provide a comfortable, compassionate and safe place to have an experience with ayahuasca while providing amenities that most westerns are accustomed to.
PART 1 IN SUMMARY:
Where in the world do you want to drink?
Do you want shared or private accommodations?
What is the bathroom situation?
How much comfort do you need (basic to luxury)?
What amenities are available (electricity, wifi, hot water, etc)?