A Backpackers Guide to Drinking Ayahuasca in Iquitos

by Captain Bill

Guest post by Andy Metcalfe

If you’ve just arrived in Iquitos, or are planning to pass through here, then chances are you’ve already heard something about Ayahuasca. It’s mentioned in many of the guide books and it’s being whispered about by travellers far and wide. Perhaps you’re intrigued enough to consider trying it. However, before you jump in there are some important things you need to know about.

First of all, it’s very important to understand that Ayahuasca is absolutely not a recreational drug that is going to give you a fun, trippy experience like you might get from LSD or a low dose of magic mushrooms.

Ayahuasca is a very powerful and very sacred plant medicine that’s been used for thousands of years by the indigenous peoples of the Amazon for the purposes of healing, spiritual development and divination. But primarily it’s used for healing. Ayahuasca is essentially a medicine for the soul that works on all levels of your Being – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

It’s important to understand that Ayahuasca ceremonies are not often fun experiences, although if they are led by an experienced shaman they are almost always incredibly beneficial – and safe. Purging is a big part of the Ayahuasca experience which often involves doing a lot of puking and shitting during, and sometimes after, the ceremony. But don’t let that put you off, because it’s an essential part of the healing process as you purge out all the negative stuff that’s accumulated in your being over the years (this can be mental, emotional, physical stuff etc.). It’s all gotta come out, and that’s what Ayahuasca does best.

Ayahuasca experiences can often be very intense, and for the purposes of healing, you may relive some traumatic or intensely emotional experiences from your past. You may also be forced to face your shadow-self which is the dark side of us; a side that we all have, that sometimes causes us to lie, cheat, deceive, criticize and generally make us act like assholes when we’re not paying attention! However, by bringing more conscious awareness to this side of ourselves, Ayahuasca often helps us to become better people.

Make no mistake, drinking Ayahuasca is a spiritual experience that often leads to profound insights that may cause you to make some very life-altering decisions. Do not take this medicine lightly!

Next, it’s essential you understand that you must be extremely careful about who you drink Ayahuasca with. When drinking Ayahuasca you are essentially putting your life and soul into the hands of another person, therefore it’s important that the shaman is someone you can trust and feel safe with.

Unfortunately in Iquitos there are many charlatans (people who say they are shamans but they are not) and brujos (bad shaman who often use their spiritual powers to cause harm). You need to make sure you don’t end up with either because the potential harm they can cause you (either by accident or on purpose) is not inconsiderable. Women particularly need to be extremely careful because unfortunately sexual abuse from charlatans and brujos is not unheard of.

As a backpacker you’re probably on a tight budget and looking to do everything for bottom dollar, therefore that nice, friendly man you just met on the street offering to do a ceremony tonight for 50 soles may sound a lot more tempting than the recommended shamans that are often charging 150 soles or more (although they are often negotiable). Please do not make the mistake of drinking Ayahuasca with some random person you meet on the street just because they are cheaper and they seem nice and friendly (con men are often nice and friendly and seem trustworthy, which is why they succeed at being con men!). You will be taking an incredible risk if you do, and trust me, it’s not worth it. For the sake of saving 50 to 100 soles you do not want to put your mental and spiritual health at risk.

I must also state that not all the good shamans charge a lot of money, nor does their price bear any reflection on their experience or trustworthiness. One of the most well-known and most expensive shaman in Iquitos has a bad reputation for molesting women in ceremony. However, the good shamans that charge little money (or even any money at all sometimes) are generally not in the city. They are village curanderos (healers) out in the surrounding jungle who primarily serve their local communities, not tourists. But don’t take your chances out in the jungle unless you have a strong recommendation from someone you trust.

To find a reliable shaman who you can trust it’s a good idea to ask for recommendations from several different people who live in the city, particularly some of the many gringos here who have a lot of experience drinking Ayhuasca in Iquitos. Most will only be too happy to help and pass on recommendations and advice. Don’t initially trust anyone who has a ceremony to sell you! You can also find (or ask for) recommendations on the  popular Ayahuasca forum at http://forums.ayahuasca.com. There are many people there who have a lot of experience drinking in Iquitos.
Finally, here are a few more tips to make sure you have the best and safest possible experience.

Stick to the Ayahuasca diet for at least 24 hours before and after the ceremony (but 2 or 3 days is far more ideal). That is no alcohol, sugar, salt, spicy foods, dairy foods (particularly cheese), fermented foods, red meat or pork. It’s especially important to avoid alcohol or other drugs for several days before and after the ceremony.

Do not plan on travelling the day after the ceremony. It’s important to give yourself at least a full day to relax and reflect on your experience.

Do not take Ayahuasca if you have high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes. You should also not drink if you have a history of mental problems or schizophrenia.

There are certain types of medication that must not be mixed with Ayahuasca. This includes most antidepressants, antibiotics.

Always take a flash light to the ceremony with you. Ceremonies are done in total darkness and you’ll need one if nature calls (and it probably will). Also, take your own toilet paper in case the shaman has run out!

Do not have any expectations about what you might experience, particularly if you’ve already read a great deal about it. Everyone’s experience of the medicine is unique and you may have a profound spiritual experience, or you may experience very little. The fewer expectations you have, the more likely that something profound will happen.

It’s perfectly normal to feel a bit of fear before and during a ceremony but don’t let it dominate your experience. Relax and let go, and trust that the medicine is always working for your highest good. So long as you are with a good shaman you are perfectly safe and no harm will come to you.

To really get the most out of Ayahuasca you should drink at least three times. Drinking once may give you an interesting experience, but the deeper and more profound healings and insights usually occur in the following ceremonies.

Despite that this article is mostly full of warnings and may seem a little negative, it is not my intention to scare you or put you off experiencing Ayahuasca. I just want to make sure you have a positive and safe ceremony and do not come to any physical or mental harm. If you arrive at the ceremony with an open-mind, an open-heart and with deep respect and reverence for this ancient and sacred medicine you will very likely have one of the most beautiful and profound experiences of your life.

Bon Voyage!

A Backpackers Guide to Drinking Ayahuasca in Iquitos

Andy Metcalfe is having an amazing time in Iquitos

Andy Metcalfe has been living and drinking Ayahuasca in Iquitos for the last 18 months and he takes people out to visit the shaman Don Lucho at Kapitari most Fridays. He is also organizing low budget Ayahuasca retreats starting in May 2011. Find out more at http://ayahuascaodyssey.com

If you are interested in doing a retreat or a single ceremony with Don Lucho email Andy at ayaodyssey@gmail.com

For more information and opinions about Shamans and Ayahuasca, click the links below;

I Saw A UFO In Iquitos. When I Was On Ayahuasca. No, Really;

What Happens During An Ayahuasca Ceremony;

Sacred Shamanic Healing;

Sacred Shamanic Healing, Part 2;

Sacred Shamanic Healing, Part Three;

Sacred Shamanic Healing, Part Four;

Sacred Shamanic Healing, Part Five;

An Ayahuasca Tale, Working With A Curandero;

Another Iquitos Evening;

Saturated With Spirit At Nihue Rao;

Modern Shamanism – Sacred CyberSpace?;


Gringo Self-loathing And Ayahuasca;

Ayahuasca In My Blood;

Proposal: An Ayahuasca Organization For Iquitos;

Shamanism, Ayahuasca, And Vanity Fair, In Iquitos Peru;

Ayahuasca, Eternal Life – A Skeptics Viewpoint;


The Dawn on the Amazon Café has the best vibrations and Ayahuasca menu in Iquitos. The recipes on the last 5 pages of the menu are free of salt, pepper, sugar, dairy, oil, or pork. Every thing is fresh.

{ 79 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Gart van Gennip April 12, 2011 at 9:52 am

Hi Andy!

That is a very insightful and complete piece of advice. The ayahuasca community should thank you. I am glad to see we are on the same page on these matters. I will refer people to this artcile when they ask me for advice. I am also looking forward to working with you on the new webpage we’ve been discussing. These are busy times for me, but I am sure we can make some time and get together.

2 Caleb Whitaker April 12, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Good stuff, Andy.

3 Martin Green April 13, 2011 at 9:44 am

Very well done Andy, good to see you and Gart agree on something.

4 Brady Stump April 16, 2011 at 10:58 am

Thanks for the great read. Keep it up!

5 Alessandro April 17, 2011 at 7:37 am

Hi Andy…I lived a while in Iquitos and I have a couple of friends there, healer but not in the touristic circle…not expensive like the lodges and not denying healing to the tourists and travelers, one is a woman, Otilia, she’s very very good…the other is Luis, I know him less but I liked his style…if you are interested to try one or both of them send me and email and I’ll give you the contact details…no way you leave Iquitos not taking a couple of ayahuasca ceremonies…bye!!

Ale 🙂


6 Alessandro April 17, 2011 at 7:40 am

hehehe…I didn’t read the last part!! 18 months taking ayahuasca…good job man…so you don’t need any advises!
I took ayahuasca my second time with don Lucho, it was the first time I had “effects”…strong ceremony, for ever in my mind…see you around (maybe in iquitos) and have a good trip!!

Ale 🙂

7 meg May 4, 2011 at 9:55 pm

I did Ayahuasca in Iquitos and had a very strange reaction to the shaman. I did not trust him at all. I went along however because I travelled all that way and it was preplanned…and I payed for it for the next few years. Psychically I was not ok. The plant brew itself helped, the shaman however, I found out later, was dark. Be very careful!

8 Alessandro May 10, 2011 at 5:49 am

Yes Meg…be very careful looking for a recommended healer…

9 Greg May 14, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Thanks for the article!

One question: when you say “To really get the most out of Ayahuasca you should drink at least three times”, could it be 3 times in a row, or how long should one wait between each drinking?

Thanks, and have fun 🙂

10 Alessandro May 17, 2011 at 5:08 am

Hi know a woman shaman that says exactly the same…that the right dose to start is 3 ceremonies in a row, she does Thursday, Friday and Thursday, so in 8 days…it’s something common within the ayahuascueros…

11 Andy Metcalfe May 18, 2011 at 8:15 am

Hi Greg,

Yeah, I mean drinking 3 times in a short period of time. Perhaps 3 times within 5 to 10 days would be a good way to start.


12 Jay July 20, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Hi Andy, great article!

I’m feeling a pull towards ayahuasca which I can’t describe, the moment I read about it, something clicked and I know I need to experience it.

I’m thinking about doing a retreat but I’m not really sure if this is a good way to go, what is your opinion on this? This is the one that has the most pull for me – http://www.ayahuascaassociation.org have you heard of it before? I’m looking for anyone with knowledge of this place really.

13 Honey Monger August 4, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Hmmmm… * strokes beard* $650 for 7 nights is considered low budget at http://ayahuascaodyssey.com

14 Melissa August 8, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Hey Andy,

A friend of yours- Gart recommended that I go to you for some advice… I will be arriving in Iquitos this month on Aug 19 with my sister and friend and we are looking to experience spiritual healing through Ayahuasca with a Shaman that we can trust. I see on your site that your retreat for this month has already passed but do you only do one per month? If your Shaman/center is unavailable could you possibly recommend me another Shaman or somewhere else that would be a good place to go? Thanks so much for your help.


15 Andy Metcalfe August 8, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Hi Melissa, can you contact me at ayaodyssey@gmail.com


16 Andy Metcalfe August 8, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Honey Monger, when you consider that Blue Morpho charge over $2100 for 6 nights, I’d say our prices are definitely at the lower end of the ayahuasca retreat price spectrum.

17 S August 22, 2011 at 11:38 pm

I can recommend a very humble and sincere shaman, Percy Garcia Lozano. Here is his info:

I completed a 10 day retreat at his center and it was a wonderful experience. I wish I could go back now!

Best of luck to all. 🙂

18 Ale September 2, 2011 at 6:31 am

yes…bluemorpho is very very expensive…but the level of comfort they offer is big…I don’t think it is necessary to have that level of comfort for an ayahuasca retreat (maybe is counterproductive…) but I understand people that doesn’t know the jungle could be worried going there with no guide and knowing…moreover to take ayahuasca…and with any spanish skill…I think Andy’s price is good…and I know the shaman he works with..he’s a good man with a nice little lodge…but if you don’t need guidance you can find something cheaper…


19 Nathan July 6, 2012 at 7:18 pm

http://ayahuascasatsangha.org is by far the best option I have come across. They offer Donation based retreats in Iquitos and about 45 minutes from Huaraz in the Andes. You pay $500 down and they offer a 8-10 day retreat with everything included. after the retreat if you feel that you did not recieve anything of benefit, they will gladly give your money back. It has never happened because the people and staff running it are AMAZING. I just finished the Mountain Retreat that was from June 24-July 3. It was an amazing experience, and changed much of my thinking of myself and others. It opened my heart, and cleaned my body out! It is not for the faint of heart and is serious work. The Shaman there powerful, down to earth and full of smiles. He has wonderful energy, and actually got rid of a ¨spell¨ that was put on another person at the retreat who had done another Ayahuasca ceremony in Iquitos with a western Shaman. Some older white guy..was interesting when he gave a description of the energy latched onto him…very powerful experience and I think i will be going back for sure 🙂

20 Traveler July 11, 2012 at 11:42 pm

I’m going to the Tierra Vida Healing Center in August. From what I’ve heard and seen it is a great place to have this experience. This will be my first time trying Ayahuasca. Thank you very much for this article.


21 Lisa V July 15, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I am planning to go to Refugio Altiplano in September. Would you recommend that place? Thanks in advance for any advise, very much appreciated–as in a short time I am on my way.

22 Brendan July 17, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Hello Lisa V,

I am thinking about going to Refugio Altiplano early next year would you be able to let me know how things go for yourself?

Cheers! Have fun and be safe!


23 Sacha July 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Please do not come to the amazons if you are looking to “get high” , come only if you have a sincere feeling of trascending, understanding,healing and becoming a more honest ,humble and honorable person… please…

24 Rose September 16, 2012 at 4:09 am


My Dad and I will visiting oct 13-17 dad and we interested in doing 3 shamanic ayuasaca ceremonies if time permits. Please get in touch with me if you may be of assistance to us. Thank you. –Rose

25 Andy M September 17, 2012 at 7:19 am

Hi Rose

I don’t currently live in Iquitos. If you only have time for a few ceremonies and not a full retreat then my best suggestion is to go to Kapitari because you can arrive and leave any day you like. The link is http://www.kapitari.org if you send an email to the address on the contact page you should be able to arrange everything with Don Lucho’s son Wagner.


26 Asif October 5, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Has anyone stayed in Hummingbird Center? I’m thinking about going but I can’t seem to find any reviews on the place online….

Any feedback, reviews, comments, grave warnings would be much appreciated!

27 Peggy A November 9, 2012 at 2:53 am

I just got back from Cusco with my adult daughter and had the most amazing ayahuasca ceremony. We found shaman Carlos through research and recommendations. We spent the night at his retreat with him and his wonderful assistant Doris. We felt safe and were very well taken care of. It was truly the most amazing experience if my life. I couldn’t even put words to what I have learned and applied to my life. If anyone wants to try this in Cusco I whole heartidly recommend cuscowahca.com you will be in excellent hands

28 Saida November 20, 2012 at 3:26 am

Hi Andy,

Thanks for the great article, very helpful. While as you say it is full of warnings, its actually comforting to know all this beforehand.

Its time for me to go through this journey so I am planning a trip around Mid Jan 2013. I have time to do a 10-12 day retreat and would appreciate some form of comfort, but a priority is a trusted and recommended shaman, what would be your recommendations? I am open to traveling further if need be, doesn’t have to be in the city.


29 Andy M November 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Hi Saida

Thanks for your comments. If you’re looking for a group retreat experience that doesn’t cost the earth then I have to recommend Ayahuasca Satsangha – http://ayahuascasatsangha.org (which is a company I’m a founder of, but we’re great, honest! 🙂

Another places I recommend is Kapitari, http://www.kapitari.org but it’s more of a personal retreat experience. You can show up when you like and stay as long as you like, however you won’t have the benefit of facilitators which can definitely be useful if you’re drinking for the first time.


30 Lokesh November 23, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Hello Guys,

Thanks for writing lots of good stuff & great learning…………….thanks
My wife is planning to do the retreat towards mid/end january along with a group being arranged by someone known to her…….and am thinking of join her………..not so sure if i can because of last minute work commitments,,,,,, but want to be with her because i am worried to be honest.
Any advise…….please e mail

31 Lokesh November 24, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Hello Saida…………….

Have you decided your dates ; if so when are u arriving and where are u coming from.



32 AIDESEP worker February 11, 2013 at 10:41 am

As it is known I am very much against foreign owned aya lodges. Having worked with the indigenous for over twenty years I find them all very disgustng. Actually they are opportunistic trespassers. But do what you want. For many years the owner of the Refugio Altiplano owned a clothes store in Taos New Mexico called From the Andes, which was basically a front for the cocaine trade. Later he became an interpreter for some new ager New Mexicans, who came to Tamshiyaku because of aya. Referring to their profitable aya trade he once said, “‘Oh, I can do that ! ” and started his own (sham)anic business. So for someone to want to go to a gringo, ‘businessman’, as he considers himself (sometimes), rather than to a local Peruvian, only shows that they have already been on-line deceived. So if you like to hear two gun shots penetrating the jungle’s silence, which answer each other with an ‘all clear’ at mid-nigh, to scare off any would be intruders, it might just be the place for you. For perhaps an ex- worker from the nearby impoverished village Tarpaca may be sneaking back to get what was denied him. “And what would you do if you found a local intruder?” someone once asked. “W’ell shoot him !” the (sham)an owner answered. But perhaps the gunshots before mid-night may be from the owner target practicing and shooting the rats in the roofing thatch of his twisted fiefdom. If these things (and others) disgust you enough to want to leave, remember, you will not be reimbursed and don’t argue to get the deposit back. Guns have been put in client’s faces who did just that. But do what you want, only remember, “gird your loins” and don’t drop the soap in the shower.

33 Olga February 20, 2013 at 10:08 am

Thanks Andy, great article and thanks everyone for sharing the information you have. I really appreciate it.

My hubby and I wanted to go to Peru and take the medicine for years now. We have been saving the money we can towards it. We don’t earn much so, subsequently, we can’t save much.

I have been checking flights (London UK-Peru) for this year and at any time of the year, the prices are extremely expensive. Do you know of any company you can get flights a bit cheaper please?

I also keep on wondering why I can find information about Iquitos and not other Amazonian areas when I look for it in relation to this topic.

The retreat prices together with the flights are making impossible for us to do this year after year. It’s like the prices don’t match with the reality of Peru. People don’t earn so much money to afford this kind of prices so I wonder if this is just another way of making business in its pure sense more than a spiritual experience.

Take care everyone.

34 Andy M February 22, 2013 at 9:46 am

Hi Olga

Flights between Europe and Peru generally are quite expensive, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon, but you can sometimes get good deals during off-peak tourist seasons. The 3 airlines to check are KLM/Air France, Air Europa and Iberia, you can usually find prices for all 3 through Expedia.co.uk or travelsupermarket.com. The average cost of a ticket seems to be about £900-£1000 but KLM had some good deals last December, charging about £630 I seem to remember, and that’s about the absolute cheapest you’re likely to see, and that’s if you’re lucky!

Also, don’t book any domestic flights in Peru through the big sites like Expedia, because the only domestic airline that show up in those sites is LAN which charges about 2 or 3 times more than the others. You can get much better deals with Starperu.com or Peruvian Airlines – http://www.peruvian.pe/en but you have to book direct through their websites or buy a ticket when you get to Peru.

Ayahuasca retreats have many different prices ranging from about $600 a week to $2300. For less expensive retreats look at http://ayahuascasatsangha.org and http://www.kapitari.org

Hope that helps

35 Olga March 5, 2013 at 3:53 am

Hi Andy,

Thanks for your help. I look at flights almost every day just in case I can get a good deal.
In the meantime, we continue saving every month. At some point we will be able to make it! I hope sooner than later 🙂


36 Olga March 11, 2013 at 11:51 am

Hi everyone,

I hope you all good!

I have been looking for more and more info and ways of doing this in a cheaper and more real (real in the sense of with local communities) manner.

I think I am going to get a return flight to Peru, I’m not sure where yet. Once there, I’ll try to find the best way of
doing this. I am also into hiking so I can get a guide and from there see how it goes and who I find in my way to….I don’t know 🙂 I am also native Spanish so that should help me with the locals.

Wish me luck!


37 Roo-lady March 14, 2013 at 12:25 am

Hello everyone!

My husband and I are wanting to have a healing experience with Ayahuasca for the first time. I found a retreat that I did a lot of looking into and have become very interested. It’s just that I wanted to clarify with someone of you who have already gone to Peru and had a Ceremony with a shaman. The retreat is located in Iquitos Peru and the website is called ayahuascaretreats.org their place is called Hummingbird Ayahuasca Retreats and Healing Center. If anyone could be so kind as to check it out and just give me a secong opinion that would be great! I have joined one other blog where I talked to someone else, but just thought it’d be good to keep looking.

With Love,


38 Polly March 27, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Hi Andy,
I am in Peru currently and seeking an ayahuasca retreat ideally for one or two weeks…. I checked out your website, seems there is one in the mountains and one in the jungle right? I could make either but am still confused about the costs, I am on my last handfulls of pennies in the world … could I really do one of your retreats for $650, and if yes which one?
Thanks so much for the help,

39 Andy M April 5, 2013 at 5:19 am

Hi Polly

We’ve just shut our jungle camp down for a few months and won’t be re-open until June. For the mountain camp we normally require a deposite of $750 (and then it’s up the guest whether they want to donate higher than that or not – it’s not essential.

I would email Moose through the website, he may let you come a little cheaper if $600 is the most you can afford, it’s not my decision to make unfortunately.


40 John May 2, 2013 at 2:01 am

Excuse me but why is LSD always lowered to offering a ‘trippy time’?? I’m not of the 60’s generation and have taken the shitty blotter acid of my generation and yes most people thing this is acid. I have also taken the ‘proper’ LSD. Closer to Sandoz LSD and at high doses. My friends, do NOT underestimate this substance, the hydrogen bomb of psychedelics. I have taken all of the classic psychedelics at high doses and like each one acid has a distinct signature. Mystical, abstract, ecstatic, a royal road to the godhead, terrifying…a gift of modern chemistry. Do not dismiss this molecule. Please. And no more, “acid=trippy visuals”, If you think this you have never experienced LSD.

41 Jose May 16, 2013 at 1:27 am

Hi Andy
there’s a lot about what not to eat on the dieta but can you tell me what you can eat or what meals you had. Thank you

42 Andy M May 16, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Hi Jose

I would mostly just stick to a healthy vegetarian diet and also include chicken or fish if you want to.


43 Ayan June 9, 2013 at 5:12 pm


I’m planing a trip to Peru to join some Ayahuasca Ceremonies and visit a retreat center. A friend recomend me the Anaconda Cosmica Healing Center. Does anyone have experience at this place? Thanks!


44 Mathnawi August 27, 2013 at 9:51 pm

I had an amazing experience at Amaru Spirit http://www.amaruspirit.com , doing dieta – which I would recommend wholly. Don Ernesto, the tabaquero was a powerful and kind shaman. Slocum, an American who runs the centre does so with the utmost integrity – a great guy. Accommodation and food are excellent. I drank with Luis Vasquez in Tachawasi. He was excellent with powerful medicine. I started at Don Percy’s, having heard great things. I was terribly disappointed. He is all about the Benjamins as far as I could tell. I had asked about whether you could take anti-malarial meds with aya (I found out elsewhere that you can’t in the main, especially doxycycline which I’d asked about). He ignored these questions and I found out after arrival that he had just come out of hospital with malaria. There was no transparency. While trekking to the centre, having met Percy only briefly (the first and last I saw of him) I discovered that he wouldn’t be doing the ceremonies (after I had been asked for money) – but that a shipibo woman would be. Percy had told me apropos of nothing that she was a shaman when we met. Now I knew why. But she wasn’t. She was a singer. A very good one and a very nice woman. But not a shaman. The ceremonies were unprotected and unsafe. And it certainly wasn’t value for money. I found it really hard to understand that a shaman with a reputation would ask in such an irresponsible way. His medicine was great but I would never go back to DAS. He is not a straight operator.

45 Rich September 3, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Hi All,
I spent 9 weeks in Iquitos and visited several shamans in that time. I would recommend Ron Wheelock (the famous ‘gringo’ shaman). Although he is American he has studied with some of the greats (shamans/curanderoes) and been practising since 1996. He speaks both English and Spanish fluently and his Ayahuasca is so well brewed that other shamans often buy it from him.
He branches the culture gap brillantly and I found him very caring and had some profound healing experiences with him. He is also very knowledgable about the plant dietas and purges for various types of healing. You will find he is highly recommended on all the forums and there is several youtube videos on him.
He opened his own centre finally in 2012 (before then operating from his home). It is called El Purguero and you can see info on it here: http://www.elpurguero.com
Also links to Youtube films & documentaries on him available on there.
He is also not nearly as expensive as many of the big ayahuasca resorts and although his methods are very traditional he explains them well to his ‘gringo’ clients who might not otherwise understand the reasoning behind it.

46 Leo November 1, 2013 at 10:23 am

Hi Andy,

I’m planning a trip to Peru in December this year. Contacted you via e-mail but am posting here as well just in case.

Please read my e-mail and reply when you are able.

Best Regards

47 Ale November 11, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Hi everybody, in my 12 months in Iquitos I met two special curanderos, a woman, Otilia, and a man, Luis P. (not don Lucho of Kapitari),they are very cheaper than the ones I’m reading here…if interested write me an email: ale_dei@yahoo.it
Enjoy the jungle!

Ale 🙂

48 JD November 18, 2013 at 11:08 am

Greetings Andy… and thank you for this outstanding contribution of valuable information. I am a seeker… and sense a profound “calling” to reverently experience “A” for healing and life direction purposes. I hope to make it to Kapitari for the upcoming retreat in December which is just a couple of weeks or so from now; wow! I wanted to reiterate with others, that your efforts to inform, protect and promote in this forum are very much appreciated. 🙂

49 Sofia November 20, 2013 at 11:23 am

Hi! I am coming to Peru Iquitos in January for about 10 days alone. I have long been interested in ayahuasca and experience it. I’m afraid little that I´ll end up whit a bad shaman. What would be a trusted place close to Iquito? Hope you can help and give good advice 🙂

50 Alexandra June 17, 2014 at 10:29 am

Hi Andy,

Great site and information for those seeking…

I am interested in ayahuasca and would like to find a real authentic shaman to go through the experience. Where can I find shamans from local villages, known and recommended but who does ceremonies in a secluded environment and small setting? Basically, someone Peruvians would go to for healing. Any help is much appreciated!

51 Mary June 27, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Hi All
In three weeks I’m going to Peru. Most of the retreats are full now and I found a few which have availability for the time I can be there. They are Anaconda Cosmica and Selva Madre. There is not much info about those two. I want to be sure I’m going to a good place. Please, if somebody had experienced those places, has some info or can advise another one with open dates (I have only two last weeks of July), any help and advise will be appreciated!

52 Paivi July 3, 2014 at 4:55 am

Hi Mary and all other seekers 🙂
I try to arrange my visit to Peru too and I got reply from Anaconda Cosmica Center super quickly.
Because this visit is my first one, I don’t want to screw it just to make bad choice.
I’m so old that I understand that what suit for one doesn’t suit for everyone ;:-)
So I assume that there is no “one and only” right answers, but if You more experienced friends ,will be helping us in day-old chicks to avoid obviously mistakes, we are more than happy 🙂

Waiting for Your objective advises and help.
Bless You all.

53 Megan July 8, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Hi!!! Great article! I had a few questions about when during my trip I should take it. The beginning or the end? I’m back packing through a few countries for two months and I start and end in Lima so I could do it in the beginning or end. Any advice? Are you still in Peru? I will be in South America October and November!

54 Leonid July 28, 2014 at 3:30 am

I recently came back from Hummingbird center. It is safe and good place (although quite pricey), especially for those who come for the first time. I had good healing in there.

55 Jon Bowes August 23, 2014 at 7:27 pm

I just bought a flight today to arrive on the fifth of October. I’m very excited! I’m considering Kapitari, though I tried to register and didn’t get a reply. I’m not sure what the deal is there.

56 Gart van Gennip August 24, 2014 at 11:42 am

Hi Jon!

Captain Bill was kind enough to point out your comment. I don’t know what’s wrong with the registration, but I work with Andy Metcalfe. I will notify him of the problem. Meanwhile, why don’t you drop him a line at holisticandy@gmail.com. I am sure we can sort things out.

Best wishes, and looking forward to meeting you in October!

57 Rebecca Kinman September 11, 2014 at 8:31 pm

“Women particularly need to be extremely careful because unfortunately sexual abuse from charlatans and brujos is not unheard of.”

I wish it was this simple. The truth is, telling women to “be careful” does not relinquish the fact that this happens. In fact, what needs to happen is that men and women alike refrain from contact with any “shaman” who would even be rumored to cause harm to anyone. I ask that if anyone has heard or seen their maestro sexually assault ANYONE (men included), that they leave the teachings of this maestro immediately. It shows support and solidarity for the survivors of the abuse and our absolute intolerance of this kind of behavior. Bless.

58 Annie Pappin October 10, 2014 at 2:09 pm

I am looking for reviews on Selva Madre ayahuasca center – can you speak to the integrity of the Shaman Don Lucho?

59 Gart van Gennip October 13, 2014 at 9:45 am

Hi Annie!

I haven’t heard about this retreat before, but if you look here http://ayaadvisor.org/listings/selvamadre-spiritual-healing-center/ you will see that it has some excellent reviews.

Do not confuse with Don Lucho Culquitón of Kapitari, whose description is very similar.

60 Ayahuasca retreat center November 26, 2014 at 6:13 am

You have shared a very informative post about your experience of Ayahuska. Hope you have enjoyed enough and the experience was great.

61 Soly February 3, 2015 at 3:22 pm

Hello everyone,

My fiancee and i are looking to attend this retreat later this month:http://huamanwasi.com/inicioen.html

Has anyone ever heard of them ?
Please Help!
Thank you!

62 Rich February 23, 2015 at 9:52 am

Just thought I would take the time to mention a retreat centre near Iquitos that has tons of integrity. Phoenix Ayahuasca. Beautiful location, traditional Shipibo ceremonies with a female shamana. Run by Tracie and Mark Thornberry. Really worth a look. These people are experienced with helping people with addiction and PTSD issues.

63 Chris March 8, 2015 at 9:14 am

Hi all

Having spent a long long time looking into this subject, I am now ready to travel to Iquitos from London. I intend to go for 8-10 days during April 2015 and wonder if anyone is also interested in doing the same from the UK right now?


64 Larry March 21, 2015 at 4:24 am

Hello does anyone have any comments on Don Lucho of the Kapitari Retreat? My good friend and I are both looking to come to ayahuasca for our first times and Don Lucho seems to be righteous to me…thanks for any info.

65 Werner April 6, 2015 at 6:56 pm

Hi folks. I hope you all find what you search. I read and searched so much before i went for my ceremonies in 2012. First trip in january, second in december. Total of 7 sermonies (5+2), I found a deep and warm female shaman outside Iquitos, lucky me. To find the right shaman for you can be difficult, but trust your gut. Some people say you get what you pay for, I dont think so. I choosed a primitive native women, low price, but with a lots of experience, perfect for me, and for most of the others. We all felt so safe with her, and everyone had their fantastic experience. The best thing, she did not even ask for any money, I just gave her an envelop the last day and a Big hug!.. This trip changed my life, I moved from cold Norway to tropical Brazil short time after. But i miss Aya, so thinking about a new visit to Iquitos, should I go to the same Shaman or try a new one.. hmm, anyway it will be good and maybe a Tarantell will visit me this time also, lol :-).. Enjoy your trip

66 Gene April 24, 2015 at 11:05 pm

-whats the best month to visit the amazon for ayahuasca please?

67 anna April 28, 2015 at 2:45 pm

Hello. I am a single female wanting to travel alone to try ayahuasca for the very first time. I am seeking a way to lose expectations and be happy with myself, as I am extremely depressed. I am looking into the Kapitari retreat with Don Lucho and have tried to register but have heard nothing back. I would like to go May 18-24, 2015 (just around the corner) and would love to meet up with anyone going there for that week. I also would love to know how I can contact anyone from the retreat to confirm my registration. Anyone? 🙂

68 John May 23, 2015 at 10:36 pm

I have been to Iquitos 3 times and participated in over 20 ceremonies in various locations. Don Lucho of Kapitari is a good Shaman. I have also been to the above mentioned Phoenix Ayahuasca and unlike Rich, I would steer clear of that place. I have no trust in the non-native Australian owners and the mind games they play, gossip, psychological manipulations, etc. Yuck!. Ask the Universe (Spirit) to guide you. If you want a truly credible experience, I would recommend Nihue Rao (with real (not apprentice or amateur) Shamans, strong medicine and supervised by a US certified medical doctor who happens to be Colombian. If you can, get a slot for Nihue Rao, otherwise Kapitari; you will be OK at these two places.

69 Percy June 23, 2015 at 9:26 pm

Recently I have been looking around but have been having trouble finding decently priced retreats for those on a stricter budget. If anyone has any recommendations besides the ones mentioned above, please reply. Thanks!

70 Tracy July 27, 2015 at 10:08 pm

I’m attending a 7 day Aya retreat at Kapitari from 31Aug – 06Sep. It will be my first time in Peru and my first time with Mother Ayahuasca. Is anyone else going? Will anyone be in Iquitos around then? I’d love to meet up!

71 Max August 9, 2015 at 5:18 pm

Hello Chris,
I am from London too and i am planning to do a trip to Iquitos and visit Kapitary. I would be interested to know how was your experience.
Please get in touch.


72 Bella Bornacini November 4, 2015 at 2:25 pm


I want to start off by saying I had been trying for days, in different devices, to put a review on Aya Advisor for the recent 12 day retreat I attended at The Temple of the Way of light.
For some reason not only it wont let me sign up to give a review, either it wont let me choose my password or says my email is already registered then when I choose the send me a link option to reset my password it sends it but I won’t get it on my email. Funny thing is after talking to some friends from my retreat, who tried to write their review as well they had the same exact problem. Even funnier it’s most if not all centers have been rated 5 stars by all recent reviers. The lowest ratings are back from when the site just started. Fishy uh.

So I will give my review here hoping that if you plan to attend a retreat there you take this in consideration first. Wish I would’ve..

I have absolutely no negative or comment or complain about the healers and the local staff. They are truly amazing, beautiful beings that literally radiate light and very gifted at what they do. Very humble, nice and caring people. Very grateful and lucky to have sited in ceremony with them.
Being the second time I attend an Ayahuasca retreat I would say the Temple definitely has a great healer staff.

First think I didn’t thought would be a problem when I signed up, but it was is that our ceremony had 22 guest! + staff and healers.
Trust me on this one, you do not want to do Ayahuasca, specially if it is your first time with such a large group. Each ceremony gets better in terms of quiteness and peaceful environment but when you have had the opportunity to sit in a small group, there is no comparison in general.
I think if they really cared to keep quality over qty they should keep their group smaller.
The first ceremonies can be extremely disquieting, and perturbing from so many people purging and crying/yelling etc all at the same time. Very chaotic.
When I tried suggesting they put me in a smaller gropus (they have 3 different centers) they tried to brain wash me by saying if the sound was disturbing for me this was related to personal issues and that maybe I should work on that next ceremony. Really?
Basically any suggestion, complain, feedback you give them about something you didn’t like, agree or feel comfortable with they will say it’s an issue within you. Suck it up, be brave, be strong, get out of your comfort zone-that’s why you are here for, it’s negative energies coming out, etc etc. (I discussed this with my group and almost everyone had a similar situation and felt the same way)…
In this part I mention 3 people, one couple and someone else left after a couple of days the retreat started. The couple had done Ayahuasca before several times and didn’t feel the legit traditions were being respected starting from how the staff pulls the healers strings.

Second. It is a shame the healers have no opinion or word regarding individualized healing. You have a consultation to tell them the reasons you are there but at the end of the day they stick to the same protocol and everyone ends up getting almost the same alternative plant medicines and stuff. There was 2 people in my group with very serious health illnesses and their treament and communication with healers were no different from the rest.
Personalizes attention as advertised is a complete lie.
After the first consultation there is also no individual sharing with the healers to keep up with your healing process, resolve questions or anything. Only with the foreign staff members.

Third. The staff are foreign guest that have stayed right. All of them were very helpful in the area they were to assist except for the main facilitator, the person that leads ceremonies and meetings and most activities. Well, ours was a total narcissist douche to most of us at some point. Now, you deal with people like this in real life right, but to choose that kind of person for such an important responsability that requires respect for others, COMPASSION and modesty as basic qualities. That position should not be taken for granted and given out to anyone. It is some serious work everyone is doing and to feel like you are on your own (healers barely speak Spanish) can be very discouraging at times.

We also met the owner Matthew and his wife and gosh… I’m not exaggerating when I tell you they are some of the most arrogant people I have met in my life. They did not even greet the groop and had this attitude like we had to praise them.
You would imagine someone that had been in so many ceremonies and runs a healing center, let alone radiate a bit of enlightment but at least have the manner to great their guest.
Just saying…

Also, when we went to the local village one of the guest that spoke Spanish translated for us and heard as positive as negative comments about where the money really goes to. Yes they make more than most locals, yes they have a few organizations going on, yes they invest in the center but at least from my group they made in 12 days $65,000dls. Im sorry but I don’t buy it after meeting the owners and some people in the staff.
We also had the chance to meet some healers that worked before and the center and I must say I was very dissapointed from what they had to say.

Besides that, food is delicious, nice facilities and I had a great healing experience from the healers, made amazing friendships, which is what I will keep of this experience but if you asked me if I would recommend this place for the price: absolutely NO.
I will travel to Pucallpa next time to work with locals which can be a little too adventorous for a first timer.

Unfortunately I haven’t been to other retreats in Iquitos I could recommend but I am sure you can find better for a more affordable price. When it comes to healing is there really a price that is worth, no. But remember money is energy and so is greed. So if you are going to go out of your way at least make sure it ends up in good hard-working hands and that you end up in a place of good intentions. A loving and caring environment it’s crucial when working with the Medicina.

73 Joe January 15, 2016 at 7:58 am

Hi, Werner can you tell me how to find that female shaman please. This is exactly what I have been looking for. I hope you see this post and we can find a contact.

74 Deanna January 21, 2016 at 2:33 am

Hi all, I’m travelling to Peru in Mar of this year and happen to be passing through Iquitos. I was wondering if there were any shaman who do one day experience. I’m a bit hesistant of this hearing the horror stories about the potential sexual abuse on females so I’m looking for a safe and experienced shaman. Any advice would be great!

Thanks a bunch!

75 Peruvian ayahuasca retreats March 18, 2016 at 12:00 pm

Enjoyed reading your post & also some of the comments. I am from Ecuador and my father went through a retreat organized by Dr. Christine Breese. It really worked well for us.

76 Matthew Watherston April 11, 2016 at 8:29 am

In response to the comment by ‘Bella Bornacini” in November 2015, we have searched our records and can find no previous guest of the Temple called Bella Bornacini…

In addition, until March 2016, Klara had not visited the Temple for 1.5 years. Therefore the authenticity of this ‘review’ is highly questionable.

Bella – if you are a real person, can you please confirm when you attended a workshop and we will then look into your claims and respond accordingly.

77 Captain Bill April 12, 2016 at 11:36 am

Thank you for your reply Matthew.
Best regards,

78 riccardo May 19, 2016 at 11:29 am

how much cost 1 day retreat?

79 Marina October 10, 2016 at 5:33 pm

Hi! I went to Iquitos for 1 month 2 years ago, did 9 ceremonies of ayahuasca.. im coming back next month. I will do ceremonies with the same shaman, and also will try ceremonies with another shaman called Luis. I wonder if theres another shaman that any of you would recommend to me… Im out of all the touristic retreats and shaman, not interested on that at all. Also if theres travelers doing the same during november i would love to stay in touch. Thanks, love!

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