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How Do I Choose an Ayahuasca Retreat Center? [Explaining the Process]

Ayahuasca has become increasingly popular as a psychedelic, and it’s often used in spiritual practices. In South America, it has been called one of the “basic pillars of the identity of the Amazon peoples,” and people often take it under the supervision of a shaman. As a result, many tourists are keen to attend an ayahuasca retreat, using the psychedelic brew as a means of awakening the spirit.

Many tourists are keen to attend an ayahuasca retreat, using the psychedelic brew as a means of awakening the spirit.

Many of these tourists are wondering whether it’s possible to take ayahuasca in the USA, and whether such retreats exist in North America. In this guide, we will point you in the right direction to help you choose the best ayahuasca retreat center for your intended purposes.

What Is an Ayahuasca Retreat?

Ayahuasca retreats are spiritual trips designed to help you do some soul-searching. The retreat centers, of course, around the consumption of ayahuasca, which is a hallucinogenic medicine native to South America. Locals brew it into a tea and drink it to awaken the soul and have spiritual soul-searching experiences.

Be warned, however, that taking ayahuasca can be a heavily emotional experience.


In part, this is why people tend to use it as part of a retreat rather than a one-off basis. Users sometimes describe the experience of ayahuasca as unpleasant and even frightening. It’s common for people to vomit, feel disoriented, or even unable to move.

The process of preparing for ayahuasca can be extensive. Some retreats recommend following a vegetarian or vegan diet for 2-4 weeks before the experience, while others recommend abstaining from cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, sex, and caffeine. It’s all about purifying the body in preparation for the soul searching that is to come.

Can You Go to an Ayahuasca Retreat in the USA?

Ayahuasca is illegal in the USA. Its main psychoactive ingredient is N, N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which is a Schedule I substance; in other words, it is illegal to possess or use ayahuasca in most non-religious circumstances.

On account of DMT’s illegal status, ayahuasca retreats in the US are rare to non-existent. Any retreat that is operating in the USA, is doing so at risk.

For this reason, most users prefer to travel to South America for the ceremonial experience. However, ayahuasca is even illegal in places like Peru, though it is permitted for religious and ceremonial circumstances. As such, retreats that can provide these circumstances are often the only option.

How Much Is an Ayahuasca Retreat?

First, you need to consider where you will attend the ayahuasca retreat. Since it is tricky (not to mention illegal) to visit an ayahuasca retreat in the USA, most travel to Peru or Costa Rica for an authentic experience. In this case, you’ll need to factor travel costs in with the price of the retreat itself.

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Dozens of Peruvian ayahuasca retreats are currently in operation, most of them outside the Amazonian city of Iquitos. Prices vary anywhere from $60 to a single ceremonial session, to upwards of $4,000 (per person) for month-long retreats. Seven-day, twelve-day, and multi-week retreats are also common, and these can range in price from $600 to $1500 per person.

How to Find the Right Ayahuasca Retreat

When attempting to find the best ayahuasca retreat, comfort and safety are paramount. Since the trip can be so emotionally laboring – and often scary – it is crucial to go somewhere that you feel comfortable.

Travelers and backpackers may take ayahuasca on a whim when they’re out in the jungle, and this isn’t always the best idea. The popularity of the plant among American and European tourists has led some street sellers to deal in poor-quality products to make a quick buck.

The teas you can buy on the street are often laced with ‘toe,’ a nightshade plant. It will make the high more intense, and you may be so inebriated that it’s easy for criminals to take advantage of you. This is why it’s imperative to only consume ayahuasca at a reputable retreat center with an experienced facilitator.


Although Iquitos is known as the center of ayahuasca retreats, you need to carefully select an establishment. The shaman should be well-trained and capable of communicating with tourists.

The retreat should be transparent, so you should see the preparation of the ayahuasca and feel confident that it is safe. A responsible shaman should also check what medication tourists are using. Ayahuasca can be dangerous for those taking certain antidepressants and other medications. Any good ayahuasca teacher will double-check for the sake of your health.

The best advice is to read reviews and speak with past attendees. There are plenty of reputable ayahuasca retreats in different corners of the world, and reviews will point you in the direction of the best ones.

Final Thoughts: Finding an Ayahuasca Retreat

Even though ayahuasca retreats are all the rage, you need to do the proper research before embarking on one. First of all, you need to find out whether it is the right thing for you. Keep in mind that ayahuasca retreats can be hard work for both your body and mind; consider whether this is what you are looking for before you invest.

Keep in mind that ayahuasca retreats can be hard work for both your body and mind.

Secondly, consider where you want to go on a retreat. There are options in both the US and South America, with pros and cons to each. Consider the cost, safety, and authenticity of the retreat. Finally, read online reviews from attendees to locate the best ayahuasca retreat possible.

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