FAQ’s | Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

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FAQs

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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. 

Deciding to work with plant medicines is a deeply personal decision that only you can make. We’ve shared more in depth around this topic on our blog and in a video.

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. 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 group calls. Your membership in our Rise and Align Group Transformation Mentorship Program will provide you with 6 full weeks of intensive preparation with your coach guiding you every step of the way. 

The diet recommended by our shaman family is as follows:

AVOID (2 weeks or more prior to retreat start)

  • Alcohol
  • Red meat
  • Pork
  • Processed foods
  • Colorants or preservatives
  • Sugar
  • 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.

Mindo, Ecuador is in the Pichincha province in the cloud forest, and there are mosquitos and biting flies present. The best protection is to wear long sleeves and long pants outdoors at all times to avoid getting bites. Because of the environmentally sensitive nature of the cloud forest, we discourage repellents or bug sprays with DEET or other harmful chemicals at our retreats. These chemicals get in the water and air and are very bad for your skin and health. But we understand that sometimes people want more protection, so you have to do what is best for you. There are lots of great options for non-toxic, natural repellents these days, and one we really love that actually works pretty well is Nantucket Spider. Lemongrass, eucalyptus, citronella, lemon eucalyptus, cloves, and orange oil are also natural repellents. 

Please read our detailed blog on this subject here.

Other helpful links:
Terms and Conditions
COVID-19 Policies

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. 

Resources:
What is Psychedelic Integration and Why is No One Doing It? (Blog)
Psychedelic Integration: The Key to Lasting Change and Growth (Podcast)

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. 

There is a lot of walking up small hills and hiking up a small mountain at the retreat. The retreat is not handicap accessible at this time. 

High blood pressure is not necessarily a deal breaker, but there are some considerations to think about. As long as you are in good health and have the stamina to participate in the retreat, and have gotten the ok from your doctor, it should not be a problem to attend. 
 
Some high blood pressure medications (antihypertensives) are not ideal to take with ayahuasca, however it is not always advisable to stop the medication, particularly if it is helping you. We advise that you stop the medication for at least 4 weeks prior to your retreat if possible, however it really depends on the medication. Ayahuasca can both raise and lower your blood pressure, particularly at higher doses, so in cases of high blood pressure, we let the shamans know and they adjust your dose accordingly and we see how you go. We have had many people come through retreats with high blood pressure and have never had any issues, however it is best to speak to your doctor and let us know what medication you are on when you apply. 
 
For more information please read our Medical Guidelines.

TRAVEL AND LOGISTICS

Our retreat home is Hayulima Spiritual Sanctuary just outside Mindo, Ecuador. Mindo is home to a cloud forest where the tropical environment meets with the sierra (the mountain chain.) Mindo has a beautiful and biodiverse landscape which supports very unique flora and fauna (birds, butterflies, hummingbirds, orchids, plants, etc.) This beautiful land sustains their sanctuary and is located only a 2.5 hour drive from Quito, the capital of Ecuador. They have all the necessary services available (healthy and delicious food, hot water, internet, river, terrace views, hiking.) 

Please plan to be at the Quito Airport at 10am 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 the shuttle 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 3 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. 

Please click HERE to check the most updated requirements for traveling to Ecuador and returning to the United States. Covid testing is available at the Quito airport for 

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 in the cloud forest that can be warm, cold, and often rainy. 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.) We advise bringing layers of clothing in case you feel cold or want to cover up during ceremony. The bugs make it a necessity to have long sleeves, long socks, and long pants

  • 1 – 2 Swimsuits for swimming and/or the sweatlodge
  • Flip-flops or sandals
  • Comfortable clothes (comfortable dresses, jeans, long pants, and shirts, long sleeve shirts, tank tops, breathable fabrics, harem or Thai pants, cardigans, sweaters, fleece, warm hat, long socks, etc.) 
  • Sarong, thin dress, kimono, or light robe or cover-up (This is also great for the sweat lodge)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen (Reef safe only, please)
  • Mosquito repellent (Natural ingredients only, please)
  • Ceremony clothing (You may want a poncho, hat, light sweater, socks, long pants, long dress, long sleeves, etc.)
  • Water bottle
  • Beach hat
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Umbrella or light rain coat
  • Sneakers, walking or hiking shoes
  • Rain boots
  • Earplugs and sleep mask to ensure you rest well in shared rooms
  • Yoga/activity clothing
  • Clothes for the trip home
  • Journal and pens
  • Snacks like protein bars, jerky, nuts, dried fruit, nut butter, etc.  The food served is delicious, but can be lighter than many people are used to, so it’s good to have some snacks on hand. 
OPTIONAL:
  • Yoga mat
  • Beach towel
  • 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 ATM machines in Quito 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, shamanic cleanse 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. You will also need any spending money for your travel. 

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 Mindo range from highs of 74°F/23°C to lows of 56°F/13°C in November. It’s mild, cool, and humid, and can also be warm in the sunshine. There are 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness year round. One of the cool things about being near the equator!

The nearest medical center is 45 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 2.5 hours away in Quito. 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.

Please visit our Terms and Conditions page to see our Cancellation and Refund Policy, as well as our COVID-19 Policy. Please email us with any questions or concerns.

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