Frequently Asked Questions
YOU'VE GOT QUESTIONS, WE'VE GOT ANSWERS
ABOUT PLANT MEDICINE
Ayahuasca and San Pedro are very safe and effective psychoactive compounds for most people, however there are some medications and health conditions that make it unsafe to work with the medicines. We go into detail about these on our Medical Guidelines page.
Our Ayahuasca brew is made up of pure MAOI containing Ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis Cappi) vine, and DMT containing Chacruna (Psychotria Viridis) leaves. It is made by the shamans who serve it to you in ceremony, and the medicine is prayed over, sang to, and created specifically for the purpose of meeting you in retreat. Our San Pedro or Huachuma is pure San Pedro cactus from Ecuador, and is made in the same way by the shamans, with love and care.
We believe in the Minimal Effective Dose approach with medicines, meaning that we advise that you take the smallest dose required to achieve the desired effect.
You would have to take an absurd (and frankly impossible) amount of these medicines to reach any level of toxicity or danger from taking too much. However, large doses of Ayahuasca and San Pedro do come with often uncomfortable and intense felt experiences.
Learn more about our Sacred Earth Medicines
These master plants have a way of making themselves known to those who may benefit from their use. The traditional way of looking at disease is that every physical, emotional, and mental illness has a spiritual or energetic cause. Plant medicines give us access to the spiritual and energetic realm, offering the opportunity to address that root cause, rather than the symptoms. This process can be difficult and uncomfortable, that should be known. However, for most people who find these medicines to be deeply healing and helpful, even life changing, any difficulty or distress is part of the process and considered more than worth it.
Both Ayahuasca and San Pedro are offered in rounds during the ceremony. You are always in control of the number of servings and amount that you consume. Taking more of a medicine will typically increase the intensity and possibly duration of the experience.
An Ayahuasca journey can last anywhere from 10 minutes to 10 hours, or into the next day. The most common journey duration in our ceremonies is around 4-6 hours.
San Pedro takes around 60-90 minutes to be felt, and can last 10-14 hours. It is a longer acting medicine than Ayahuasca, and has a more stimulating effect. For some people, this can mean it might be difficult to sleep for many hours after their last dose.
It is our goal that the effects of these medicines and this retreat will last for a lifetime.
Learn more about our Sacred Earth Medicines
Yes. Traditional plant medicines, including Ayahuasca and San Pedro or Huachuma, as well as Kambo, are legal in Ecuador for spiritual and ceremonial use by registered shamans and medicine persons. We follow and respect the laws of the countries where our retreats are held.
Clearing out unhealthy energies is often part of the healing process with plant medicines. Purging can be vomiting or diarrhea, and it can also be shaking, crying, movement, verbalization, yawning, breathing, and many other manifestations. All of these are a normal part of the process and are nothing to be afraid of. You will have access to a bucket, restroom, and loving helpers who will be available to care for you throughout every journey.
Many people report feeling intense relief as a result of purging, cleaning, and clearing out these energies and toxins. It is also completely normal and okay if none of these things happen to you, or if they don’t happen every time.
The medicines present lessons and healing to us in an infinite number of ways, and will share this ancient wisdom with us in whatever ways we will best receive it personally. This is a unique combination of things for each individual.
For some people, this looks like visions, for others it’s a feeling or conversation, and for others it’s an intuitive understanding, remembering, or knowing.
Some people have visions and some don’t. You may have visions in one ceremony and not another. You may see patterns, shapes, and colors, and you may receive a vision for your life that goes straight into your heart.
All the ways we experience and understand the medicines are good and right, and not having visions doesn’t mean the medicine isn’t working. There are many people who don’t have a visual experience with plant medicines at all. We advise being as open as possible to allow whatever wants to come to you to do so in any way you need to receive it.
PREPARATION AND INTEGRATION
There is a lot to think about and prepare for when getting ready to go on a plant medicine retreat. Your retreat includes Psychedelic Integration Academy – Part 1 (Preparation). Our unique 4 week online course is designed to fully prepare you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for the experience you are about to have in our retreat.
You will have our full support leading up to your retreat, and will get to meet others in your group on the same journey on our weekly preparation calls. We include this course in every registration, and it’s got everything we know to help ensure you will have the healing experience you desire.
The diet recommended by our shaman family is as follows:
AVOID (2 weeks or more prior to retreat start)
- Red meat
- Processed foods
- Colorants or preservatives
- Saturated fats
It is ideal to limit or avoid these foods as much as possible during the 2 weeks leading up to your retreat. Please visit the Medical Guidelines page for details about medications and health advice.
No. Ecuador does not require any vaccines and we do not recommend getting any specific vaccines. However, we understand that feeling safe is important, and can help you, and your friends and family feel better about your trip, so if you are wanting to get vaccines for travel to Ecuador, here is the link to the CDC guidelines. Don’t be alarmed, the CDC typically has very strict travel recommendations, and many countries are listed as Do Not Travel because of the ongoing pandemic situation. Please read our Terms and Conditions thoroughly before booking.
We are not currently requiring our guests to be vaccinated for COVID-19 to attend the retreat. Please visit our COVID-19 Policies for more information.
Olón, Ecuador is in the Santa Elena province on the Pacific Coast, and there are mosquitos present. We do not allow ANY repellents or bug sprays with DEET or other harmful chemicals in ceremony, and discourage their use at our retreats. These chemicals get in the ocean and are very bad for your skin and health. There are lots of great options for non-toxic, natural repellents these days, and one we really love that actually works is Nantucket Spider.
Please note that Dengue Fever is a risk in many parts of Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Some countries are reporting increased numbers of cases of the disease. The best way to protect yourself is to wear insect repellent, and try to avoid being outside at dawn and dusk whenever possible, and to wear long sleeves and long pants during these times.
Psychedelic integration is the process of exploring, understanding, and embodying the psychedelic or mystical medicine experience, and taking action to bring yourself and your life into alignment with your new perspective and awareness.
Integration is truly the most vital part of the process of healing with psychedelics, and it is a main focus of everything that we do in our work. We have created a complete holistic support system for healing with psychedelics that offers guidance throughout the entire process of preparation, navigation, and integration. In this online course, you will learn everything you need to know to successfully heal with psychedelics, and upgrade your personal toolbox with valuable self-understanding, awareness, and skills that will be with you for the rest of your life.
Psychedelic Integration Academy is included with every retreat registration. We are the only retreat of this kind offering ongoing preparation, navigation, and integration support as a standard part of our program.
People of all ages (18 and older) are good candidates to experience this type of healing. It is an honor to have elders in ceremony and in our retreats.
One factor in our choice to offer a more luxurious experience was to provide a very comfortable physical space in nature for folks who may have chronic pain and other conditions that may make visiting the jungle or Andes mountains more difficult. The decision to do the work with the plants is already a big deal, so making sure you’re cared for and comfortable throughout the experience is a high priority.
TRAVEL AND LOGISTICS
Our retreat home is in a beautiful beachfront estate located in Olón, Ecuador, on the Pacific coast. It is a lovely, quaint beach village with a serene vibe, the perfect place to relax into a deep dive with plant medicines.
The nearest airport is Guayaquil, which is about a 3 hour drive from the retreat venue.
Please plan to be at the Guayaquil airport at 12pm on the first day of your retreat to meet the group and travel to the retreat together. Be advised that international travel to Ecuador can be a lengthy process, and may require that you book a night at a hotel to meet us the next day. We strongly advise giving yourself plenty of time on both sides of your travel to make connections, or in case of flight changes or cancellations.
Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information about missed, late, or cancelled flights.
Visa requirements are based on your home country, and visitors from the US, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Europe do not need a visa to enter Ecuador. However, please check the status for your home country to be sure of the requirements.
You will need to have proof of a return or onward ticket in order to enter the country, as well as a negative PCR COVID-19 test within 7 days of your arrival date to attend the retreat. Ecuador allows visitors to stay for 90 days on a tourist visa, and offers one 90 day extension per 12 month period.
You must have a valid passport with at least 6 months of time left before the expiration date to enter Ecuador. Please check your expiration date! We have had people miss flights and not be able to travel due to this detail, it’s required!
Our retreat is on the beach in a warm, humid place. Our ceremonies take place in covered spaces outdoors. We spend a lot of time outside throughout the event. During ceremony, it is most important to be comfortable and in clothing that feels good. Some people like to dress up for ceremony, and that’s great (but not required.) Remember, we’re at the beach! We advise bringing light layers of clothing in case you feel cold or want to cover up during ceremony.
- 1-2 Swimsuits
- Flip-flops or sandals
- Comfortable beach clothes (light dresses, long dresses, linen pants and shirts, shorts, tank tops, light, breathable fabrics, harem or Thai pants, etc.)
- Sarong, kimono, or light robe or cover-up (This is also great for the sweat lodge)
- Sunscreen (Reef safe only, please)
- Mosquito repellent (Natural ingredients only, please)
- Ceremony clothing (You may want a light sweater, socks, long pants, long dress, long sleeves, etc.)
- Water bottle
- Beach hat
- Personal items and toiletries
- Umbrella or light rain coat
- Sneakers or walking shoes
- Yoga/Activity clothing
- Clothes for the trip home
- Journal and pens
- Yoga mat or beach towel (We have both, but if you want to bring yours, you can)
- Personal or spiritual items for the sacred altar or to have with you in ceremony
- Tarot or oracle cards, games, or musical instruments
- Small gifts from your home country for the shamans and leaders (some people like to do this, it is not expected or required)
- Meditation cushion, small pillow, or light blanket for extra ceremony comfort
Ecuador uses the US dollar, and there are lots of ATM machines in Guayaquil at the airport to grab some cash when you arrive, as well as places to exchange cash if needed, (though we don’t recommend this. It is best to take $USD directly out of ATMs for the best exchange rate.) Ecuador is a mostly cash based economy, so it is wise to plan to have some cash in case you need it.
All costs for additional services incurred during your stay at the retreat (massage, Kambo sessions, extra ceremonies, private sessions, etc.) must be paid in cash. We recommend bringing at least $300-$400 in cash if you plan to add on services during your stay.
Make sure to alert your bank and credit card companies about your travel plans so your cards will be active and useable during your stay.
Temperatures in Olón range from lows of 68°F/20°C to highs of 81°F/27°C. The humidity is around 83% most of the time.
Rainy Season: January through May, where rainfall is around 6 inches or 16cm per month, with an average of 12 rainy days per month.
Dry Season: June through December, where rainfall averages 1 inch or 2.5cm per month or less, with 5 or fewer rainy days per month.
The weather is beautiful because we’re at the beach, y’all!
The nearest emergency room and hospital is 15 minutes away from the retreat venue, and is equipped to handle most situations. For very serious issues (something requiring surgery, a very serious accident, etc.) there is a state-of-the-art hospital located 90 minutes away in Santa Elena. Our facilitators are CPR and First Aid certified, and we have a first aid kit onsite. There is a vehicle and driver available 24 hours a day in case of emergencies.
We take our screening process very seriously, as it is our goal to ensure all our guests are fully able to handle the experience physically, emotionally, and mentally, and to ensure your safety and that of the group. Please let us know in your application if you have underlying health or medical issues.
No. While we understand you may want to spend some time exploring Ecuador and the area around the retreat, we do not offer day trips or allow guests to travel offsite during the retreat.
From the first sweat lodge ceremony, we are opening a healing process and creating a protected container for the experience. An important part of the process is rest, downtime, introspection, and integration. We have a spacious retreat that offers plenty of activities, while also giving you room to rest, relax, and enjoy nature.
It can feel overwhelming and stressful to leave the venue while you are open in your healing process. For this reason, we ask that you remain onsite throughout the duration of the retreat. We recommend adding on a few days to your trip if you are interested in seeing more of beautiful Ecuador.