Refugio Altiplano and the Shamanic Healing Natural Medicine

by Captain Bill

A guest post by Jacob Khan

Scott Peterson, and Jacob Khan up the Tamshiyacu River on the dock at Refugio Altiplano

“You know those times in life when going gets tough? All of a sudden there is no meaning for living. There is no juice, no passion or energy to continue living. What do you do when times are hard physically, mentally and spiritually? Do you give up on life or do you continue to hope that you will find the remedy you were looking for? I chose the second option because I never give up and let failure be my final option!

I’ve always dreamed of taking a new adventure into an unknown territory, away from home, leaving it all behind. I read somewhere once that it is only when we’re willing to let go of it all, all of our attachments, worries, fears, that we are able to go on the adventure that is waiting for us. That’s exactly what I did. I left my business, my family, and my friends; I ignored my fears and my big fat ego and traveled to the heart of the Amazon to meet a shaman named Scott Petersen. I found out about him via the internet and through the word of mouth from a few of my good friends.

After I did some research on Shamanism and talked to a number of people who have experienced the Shamanic healing medicine, everyone seemed to vote for Refugio Altiplano as the finest place where real authentic healing is done. I heard so many good things from enough people that I thought I should give this a shot. It was one of the best decisions of my life. I can see why people consider Refugio as the real place for authentic shamanic healing in Iquitos, Peru.

There are many places in Iquitos to experience the Shamanic healing experience and I’m glad that I’m not one of those people that ended up corrupted in the hands of the wild and wicked shaman that’s out there just to get rich off of you. You really have to be careful where you choose to go and do your research beforehand. Don’t just rely on online reviews, find someone who is has been in Peru and has done Ayahuasca. I have had friends who ended up in the hands of the wrong Shaman and they were terrified during their trance and got no help from the Shaman at all. It’s sad to hear stories like these, make sure you do not become somebody else’s cautionary tale!

When I got to Scott’s retreat center Refugio Altiplano…there were just no words for it. I was so excited; it felt I finally found the elusive thing I have always been looking for.  It was my personal Mecca, a place where I was able to feel deeply content. I was surrounded by the exotic natural Amazon rain forest with its high natural levels of oxygen. It felt like the best place on earth…

My journey started August of 2010, I have been doing Ayahuasca since last year and there is so much I can share about this amazing sacred jungle medicine that came into my life when I first visited Refugio Altiplano. Since then my life has been wild, adventurous, fun filled, exciting and refreshing; those are the things that make life worth living! Our life can be a fun filled adventure or it can be never-ending misery. Don’t choose misery! Choose to get the help you need and live life to the fullest!

To give you a glimpse of what goes on there I’ll share with you my first days experience in Refugio Altiplano. When I arrived the staff was really nice friendly with me and escorted me to my personal jungle home. When I arrived at the home I was really surprised because I thought I was going to sleep in some house with bunch of other people. Instead I was shown a surprisingly huge house, almost like a mini jungle mansion that was just for me. The house had unexpected modern amenities such as high quality Western style restrooms and furniture. I also enjoyed the privacy of my jungle home so that I could meditate quietly and enjoy a lot of “me” time.

The homes in Refugio are blended with South American style and Western comfort doing an extraordinary job at making foreigners feel comfortable in the jungle. It was a pleasant surprise to be able to turn on a light, take a warm shower at the end of an invigorating day and see the Amazon rain forest just outside. On top of all this the food was exceptional! They serve fresh lean proteins, fruits and vegetables every day. I was also pleased to see that they were able to work with my requests to customize my diet to suit my needs.

If you are ready to take the adventure of a lifetime in the Amazonian jungle and would like to find a place that offers nothing but the best jungle excursions and offers Shamanic healing medicine then take a few minutes of your time to visit their website at Also feel free to contact me by my email “” if you would like more information about Refugio Altiplano and the Shamanic healing medicine. I look forward to hearing from you…”

Jacob Khan on the dock at Refugio Altiplano

Refugio Altiplano and the Shamanic Healing Natural Medicine

A guest post by Jacob Khan

Bill Grimes here, reporting from Iquitos Peru for the Captain’s Blog.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anna November 12, 2011 at 10:45 am

Wonderful Jacob, I feel refreshed and adventurous from just reading about your experience! I’ve been coming and going at the Refugio since 2004 and can only agree – it’s an amazing place. Thanks for sharing.

by the way, you should put Teddy’s name up there in the byline. He’s as much a part of the place as anyone of us who just visit from time to time 🙂

2 David C. November 12, 2011 at 11:02 am

Thank you for sharing your experience Jacob. I have been to all the top retreat centers in Iquitos and from what I’ve experienced Refugio ranks top of the list.

3 Jacob Khan November 21, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Hi Ana,

Thanks! Happy to hear that I was able to make you feel refreshed and adventurous. I hope someday our path will cross and I’ll include Teddy’s name next time.

4 Jacob Khan November 21, 2011 at 6:00 pm

You’re welcome David and hopefully I’ll have the pleasure to meet you in person someday!

5 Leo November 26, 2011 at 11:10 am

Nice blog, Jacob. I’m glad you enjoyed your experience at Scott’s retreat.

6 Jacob Khan December 3, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Thank you Leo and I hope someday our path will cross in Refugio.

7 Emily January 4, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Hi Jake, there isn’t a day go by that I don’t think about Refugio. I’ve just sent you an email and let’s chat more.

8 Bruce February 5, 2012 at 10:41 pm

I would love to talks for i am going down there and could use dome feedback.


9 Diana August 8, 2012 at 11:38 am

Hi Jacob, I wanted to tell you that I enjoyed reading your expressive blog today. I am planning to make my way to Iquitos soon and hopefully Scott and the crew will have a spot open for me. I also hope to run into you someday:)

Thank you,


10 Ruth February 15, 2013 at 8:01 am

Hi Jacob:

I agree what a beautiful place on earth. I stayed there for a month for some mental illness. I’m now completely healed. So great respect for Scott, rest of the Shamans and staff. Most importantly great respect for the Medicine.

11 Judi March 17, 2013 at 5:11 pm

I suggest that everyone, but especially women, considering visiting the Refugio read this thread from the Ayahuasca Forum first:

12 Layla April 5, 2013 at 4:25 pm

I got a chance to look at those reviews on Aya forums. There is too much going on there. Lots of spam. I’ve been to Refugio few times and never ever I had any problems with Scott and the rest of the staff.

13 Matt April 12, 2013 at 5:06 am

Thanks Judy, I had seen positive reports on TripAdvisor, but that forum thread really opened my eyes. Refugio successfully pressured TripAdvisor to remove reports from people who had negative experiences. The number of fake accounts that are used to hype this center (and downplay sexual abuse) is bizarre.
If you’ve reading this and are considering a trip, you’d be crazy not to devote at least 15 minutes reading that thread.

14 Matilda April 25, 2013 at 9:38 am

I agree with Matt. The only verified spam on that thread came from Scott or one of his supporters. You have to read the thread – a number of sockpuppets defending Scott appeared, all with different user names, all defending him, to the point that the moderator had to create separate threads for the sock puppets.

It’s difficult to trust what’s going on with Internet postings and nowhere is this more true than TripAdvisor. Around 20 to 30 5-start reviews were removed from TripAdvisor all at once having been deemed faked by the Refugio. Every single review that was less than 5 stars was pulled after Scott threatened litigation, even the very tame ones.

Women are taking a true risk in visiting this place and they should know this because Scott is in denial and justifies his behavior by saying “I’m not a monk.” Just read the thread, which is not TripAdvisor, which did not cave upon litigation threats by Scott and which is a private community that consists of ayahuasca drinkers who are very concerned about what is happening there. One of the leading thinkers in the community, Dr. Steven Beyer, held a community forum to discuss the situation at Refugio Altiplano at the most recent MAPS conference. This is a serious issue.

15 Matte May 29, 2013 at 9:34 am

I agree Matt & Matilda. This is a serious issue. The fake accounts used to hype is bizarre.

16 Mr. Singh July 10, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Dear Jacob,

I’ve found that Refugio isn’t an average Ayahuasca retreat. As a matter of fact this is nothing like it. I had done over 20 Ayahuasca ceremonies in the past before I came to Refugio Altiplano. In Refugio it took 3 deep journeys to completely change my life inside and out. I now feel truly empowered Jacob. All the best to you.

-Mr. Singh

17 kaz November 25, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Hi everyone I am in Iquitos at the moment and want to attend a reputable ayahuasca centre I was going to go to refugio but now do not know what to do after reading the conflicting comments.
I read that Scott has passed away, does anyone have any recent reports on what it’s like there now? Be grateful for any feedback guys. Btw I am a woman on my own so a bit concerned about reading the stuff on the advances on women!

18 Kate December 3, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Update: I highly reccomend Refugio Altiplano

Scott Peterson passed away in December 2013. And by passed away, I mean he was most likely pushed off his balcony by a disgruntled girlfriend. Refugio Altiplano was left to one of his daughters who has no interest in ayahuasca and to my knowledge has never been to the jungle. When I visited in November 2014, it was being run by the daughter’s mother ( Scott’s estranged wife who had not talked to him in 20 years).

I was drawn to Refugio years ago, researching ayahuasca retreats online. Scott Peterson had the best YouTube videos explaining ayahuasca and it’s healing effects. He clearly had a love of the medicine, a vast knowledge of all sorts of medicinal plants and a beautiful medicine garden to share with seekers. Upon further research, I came across the allegations of “inappropriate behavior” and crossed Refugio off my list of retreats in the Amazon to possibly visit.

Cut to November 2014. I had heard Scott died and I went to Refugio Altiplano. Why go there when there are several other lodges with outstanding reputations? Partly because I had extra time before starting a dieta at Nihue Rao ( which I also highly reccomend). Partly because I was still drawn to Refugio despite its “challenging reputation.” And partly because I have a dark sense of humor and thought it would be fun to play amateur journalist/investigative reporter. So off I went into the jungle.

What I found was beyond pleasantly surprising. This place is truly magical. The facility Scott built is beautiful and impressive. Gorgeous bamboo treehouses, a mini mansion central house and a wide open maloka nestled deep in the jungle. Traipsing about the property during the day was a fun adventure in and of itself. The staff ( most of which has changed since Scott’s passing) were kind and sweet and attentive. While all of these things are secondary, they set the stage for the grand event: the ceremony. Refugio’s shaman, Jose Huanaquiri, is one of the very best in the jungle. My second ceremony with him was the deepest, most powerful healing I have yet to experience ( drinking 25+ times). His medicine and Icaros are STRONG. His ceremonies are on the shorter side, usually 3 to 3.5 hours. But they are incredibly efficient. While I was there, there were only 7 other travelers, so everyone got a lot of one on one time with Jose. Everyone had extraordinary healing results. Jose is the main reason to visit Refugio Altiplano.

The wife running Refugio has done a great job of keeping it running since Scott’s passing. She basically showed up 2 months after he died, with no/little knowledge of ayahuasca or lodges or the jungle and breathed new life into this dying , dysfunctional dream of Scott’s.

On my last night here, a young man from Austraila arrived. Julian. He had studied shamanism under Scott and has come to assist the wife and help rebuild Refugio. With their care and their love and a new vision, Refugio has been brought back from the brink of Death.

19 Cindi November 18, 2015 at 3:31 am

I had a wonderful experience in iquitos with Scott the shaman who basically was very kind and sincere in his behavior toward me, i was able to truly learn practise yoga and do some filming of scott his assitants and the beauty of the jungle . His love of the ayahuasca was intense and I wish I had the opportunity to see him again!

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