My ayahuasca journey in the Amazon and where to find the medicine in South America

The main reason of my trip to the Amazon jungle was to experience the Peruvian ayahuasca plant as well as the ceremonies led by Peruvian shamans. Until this trip, I had attended a couple of dozen ceremonies, all of which led by Colombian shamans.

My ayahuasca journey

In the last few years of my life, I have been so fortunate to realize the dreams I’ve had. Now when I look back, I laugh at the rat race I have been a part of to gain more material or status than others. It is so liberating to finally being able to see that we all exist as ‘one’ and there’s no success in anything unless we all succeed together.

I can tell my remarkable transformation from old me to new me started with my introduction to Ayahuasca, the ancient plant medicine that connected me to the Source. Starting with my first Ayahuasca ceremony in the woods, I gained valuable perspective about who I was and what my purpose and place were in the universe. I have become and constantly learning to become a loving, kind, positive and compassionate person.

How Ayahuasca cured my Hepatitis B:

I wrote my journey below with all the details to explain how mother ayahuasca and the remedies prepared from other plants cured my Hepatitis B in 5 days.

As per the Western Science, a miracle happened in Peru and I am now Hepatitis B and medication free after 10 years of slavery to western medicine that cost me $1000/month (without insurance).

Update (~2 yrs later): My doctor in New York has performed 3 tests following my return at different intervals and I still don’t have the virus and my body produced antibodies, which means I will never have Hep B again!

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My healing journey in Peru:

Following our 3 week journey in the Native American Vision Quest camp in Colombia, my friend Daria and I followed our hearts that took us to Peru. Along the way, we took recommendations from friends as to how to get by in the jungle. We also asked around Iquitos about different shamans and practices.

Apparently the plant medicine tourism had become so popular among gringos within the last 10 yrs, hence it led to corruption. We heard stories about shamans who tried to rape girls, served medicine that killed ppl or ppl were ripped off since the medicine didn’t have any effects. Having this in mind, we started asking about how to go to Doña Othelia’s place,  the female shaman who was referred by friends.  After finding out she would be above our budget (~$200 per night), we decided to go to another female shaman named Doña Isabelle, a half Shipibo/half Bora shaman that lived 2 hrs away from Iquitos by the river. The trip would cost 900 soles (300 USD) in total including lodging, food, remedies, and the 3 ceremonies that would take place every other day. If we wanted a translator to go with us, it would be an additional 150 soles/day (50 USD) but we skipped this.

**Scroll down to the bottom to jump to the places that serve medicine in South America**

Here is how some magical things happened in Peru:

Day 1:

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The canoe that took us to Dona Isabelle’s lodge and Jorge’s sons

In the morning, we were picked up by the company that arranged our trip to Doña Isabelle’s village and were dropped off at the boat dock to take two boats: one speedboat, one regular boat to get to her lodge along Tahuaya River. After the first one hour ride, we were handed to her helper Jorge in Tamishacu who transferred us to his slow canoe for another hour of ride.

photo (2)Welcome to the Jungle!

The lodge was in the middle of the jungle, beautifully surrounded by trees, tiny black monkeys, vicious cats, bugs, and birds. We were given a private cabin with two beds and mosquito nets. When we set up our hammocks, it didn’t take us too long to get used to our new place which would be our home for the next five nights.

Lodge
The path to the  lodge, view of the Maloka where the ceremonies took place,  our cabin and Jorge  while preparing one of our many bland meals.

We met with Dona Isabelle in the Maloka to meet and greet each other, tell her about our purpose of being there, and the health problems we wanted to cure (frequent bladder infection and hepatitis). After listening to us carefully, she and her husband Lorenzo, who we discovered was her maestro put us on a 2-meal-a day no salt, no sugar, no oil, basically nothing tasty diet (dieta), which consisted of grilled or smoked fish, plantains and rice.

Our first ayahuasca ceremony took place the same night in our cabin and lasted three hours in complete darkness. The two shamans sat on the chairs in front of us and us on the floor in front of them. The medicine we were served was raw and pretty liquified hence it was easier to swallow and we took it only once in the beginning of the night.

The shamans sang icaros all night long and both Daria and I got well in the buckets (which means we vomited) pretty quickly. The ceremony was quite different than my past ayahuasca experiences. Colombian ceremonies lasted at least 8 hrs and we are able walk around, sit by the fire or lay down, which helped us to connect with nature more easily. We were also able to drink as many cups as we wanted. Whereas Peruvian ceremonies were short, took place in one room in the dark without a chance of interacting with anything other than ourselves.
When we were both almost falling asleep (or I might be in full sleep) Jorge came to end the night and they left us to rest and meet next morning to get our remedies.

Day 2: No breakfast | Lunch: grilled fish and plantains |Dinner: boiled rice.

The morning after our first ceremony, Daria and were given two bottles of remedies that we would be using until we finished them and we would be free of our health problems. Jorge told us joyfully how the shamans previously cured his stomach tumor and other illnesses such as hepatitis, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. We were skeptical but it would definitely be worth to try. We spent most of the day in our hammocks protected with mosquito nets and read and slept.

Day 3: Breakfast: a cup of rice soup (rice in its water) | Lunch: rice, 2 boiled eggs, smoked plantain | No dinner.

photo 5
1st pic: Our bathtub, laundry, and lagoona. The rest are our preps for the purification bath.

After breakfast, Jorge took us to the jungle to gather the plants with which he would prepare purification baths for us. We walked nearly two hrs among the vast green trees and plants while Jorge cut off pieces from nearly 20 plants and placed them in the bucket he brought. We finally stopped at a creek and minced all the plants to make a blend of amazing colors and odors. He then washed us with this wonderful mix by scrubbing the juice all around our bodies and faces.

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5 days later, my  skin was still soft from this bath and stomach still not full enough! 🙂

In the afternoon Jorge showed us how to make fibers from palm trees to make bracelets, belts, bags, etc. Second demonstration was to make wooden utensils from palm trees with just the help of a machete. At the end of these lessons, Daria and I each had a bracelet and a wooden fork+spoon set (to be used for spaghetti as instructed by our helper).

Jorge making utensils from coconut trees
Jorge making utensils from palm trees

At night, we met with our shamans in the big house at 8 pm for the 2nd ceremony. After we drank our cups of ayahuasca and put out the candle, the waiting began. The tissues soaked in the medicine that they put in my ears to cure my ear ringing problem, somewhat made me hear the jungle much more clearly. The birds, monkeys, cats whom I was sure became jaguars waiting for us outside, even bugs were detected so clearly. I jumped a few times thinking that there were animals around my mat. I also heard a woman singing a different icaro besides our shamans.

I purged pretty quickly and waited for the next 3 hrs to have visions. Even though I asked questions or tried to think about the problems I had intended to resolve, I could only manage to think about the rest of my South American trip. I also entertained the idea of the things I wanted to eat when I’m back to normal. Meanwhile I sent Daria positive vibes while she seemed to be working with the medicine more successfully than me.

Day 4: No breakfast | Lunch: smoked fish and plantains | Dinner: smoked fish and rice.

The day went uneventful. We continued our diet of eating nothing tasteful and drank our remedies. Upon our request, Jorge made us juices from the jungle plants to stop constipation and repel Mosquitos.
We also took baths in the lagoon which washed off several layers of bug repellents on our skins and it felt amazing.

Day 5: Breakfast: boiled eggs and rice | Lunch: smoked fish and rice | No dinner.

Our requests from the shaman to make the ayahuasca brew stronger and the ceremony longer were apparently heard and we started the night with drinking 8 gulps of the medicine which was a thicker mix than the previous nights. It didn’t take too long for Daria and I to get well and dive deep into the other dimension. Throughout the night, I was able to work on the things I intended to and found answers to a lot of questions in my head. I saw my future family and sent blessings to every single person that had been in my life. I truly enjoyed the 5 hour ceremony minus the flying cockroaches that hit our faces right and left all throughout the night. At some point, I had to wrap my face with my scarf so I didn’t end up with a bug in my mouth. This reminded me the film Midnight Express, in which the guy had to wear women stocking to his head in the Turkish prison to avoid cockroach actions at nights.

The ceremony ended at 1 am and we didn’t sleep much afterwards. We got up at 5:30 am to start our way back to Iquitos. The supposedly 2 hr ride took us 4 hrs since we had to wait for the boat to fill up at 7 am in the morning. To add more pain to the early morning wait, we were forced to listen to super loud Peruvian rap/techno music from someone’s equipment and all the songs seemed to contain words like puta, marihuana, oye..
Since we were assumed to be rich gringas, we accepted to pay for the 8 missing passengers that we could be waiting for for hours and the boat left the port 🙂
Upon arrival to Iquitos, we were so happy to check in to Flying Dog Hostel (20 soles/night or 7 USD) , take a shower and have our filthy clothes laundered. I couldn’t sleep at night with anticipation for our trip to Cuzco the following day (or could be because we messed up our sleep schedule in the jungle).

If you plan a similar trip to the Amazon, here’s what you might want to consider:

– Since we were in the Amazon in the rainy season, it poured most of the nights non-stop but thankfully it stopped around 7 am to leave us a freshly washed and cooled off nature (except for one day). So bring water proof shoes, jackets, raincoats, ponchos, etc.

– Mosquitos were the main annoyance. You need a strong repellent with at least 25% deet an you need to spray it often.
When the mosquitos couldn’t find a place to bite in our bodies, they attacked our faces so we had to stay indoors most of the time and wore long sleeve shirts and light colored pants. But in spite of this, we were bit terribly and constantly scratched our bodies all day and night. A good anti-itch lotion is also highly recommended.

The jungle was loud but not dangerous. When we heard big animals walking around our casa, we were pretty sure that they were some type of predators. However, when we spotted a group of cute little black pigs in an afternoon, we laughed pretty hard to our wild imagination. The heavy leaves, branches and fruits constantly falling from trees as well as monkeys and birds jumping between the trees created most of the noise.

We saw a huge hairy tarantula probably bigger than my hand only once and it was in the Colombian side of the jungle. We were told that the anacondas, tarantulas, jaguars and other wild animals lived about 2 hrs away from where we were and by signing up for a jungle tour, we could see them closely. We said “No thanks” to that offer for now. The tours usually cost around 200 soles/night.

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Abundance of greens… One of our daily jungle excursions in the jungle

Where to find a retreat to learn about the plant medicine, join ceremonies, talk with shamans, etc: 

Disclaimer: Please know that everyone’s experience with the medicine is different. I am happy to provide some leads as a starting point for you but please use these connections at your own risk. Do a lot of research and talk to the shamans or organizers before making the best decision for yourself while entering into this new phase of your life. 

PERU

This retreat that I fell into magically with the help of the universe can be reached by contacting the travel agency, which arranged it for us. Hucari Tours  is located in Iquitos or you can also call the shaman’s helper named Jorge Luis Valderrama Tuanama: 984 80 32 52. He speaks only Spanish and the ceremonies were with Shaman Lorenzo and his wife Isabelle. I highly recommend them if you have a health problem to cure and you believe in the power of mother nature!

If you google ayahuasca retreats, you will see that there are so many centers in the Iquitos area. The ones that have a website are targeting westerners, hence the prices are high. I am talking about like $2000 for a week!

While I cannot vouch for them, I heard about this retreat from a few ppl I crossed paths with. It seems like they are more westernized to accommodate western seekers in a more comfortable environment with a bill that associates with it.

Hare krishna eco-community working on the base of the Sacred Medicine Wheel to discover the Mystic Arts and Sciences of Life. They do ayahausca ceremonies once a week…. it’s a very communal experience and people go into it with questions as a community and individual. They take it really seriously and do it as a way to further grow in their spiritual path. Usually they give you the opportunity to do it with them if you do a course with them and they invite you, or you help out in the community as volunteer.

  • The Sacred Valley Tribe is another group that organizes ceremonies pretty often at a reasonable price in the Sacred Valley (Cusco/Pisac area).
  • Santo Daime Church near Cusco:

I heard amazing things about the people who are in the community of the Danto Daime church, which has a more Christian approach to practicing the medicine. While they have centers all around the world, the one near Cusco was brought to my attention by a good friend. Please research this practice thoroughly before attending the ceremonies held in the church to make sure it aligns with your beliefs and worldview.

 

COLOMBIA

  • There is a shaman in Salento, Colombia who holds ceremonies. I almost went to his ceremony with a bunch of backpackers but he declined me since I was in my moon period (that is a common thing with ayahuasca due to female/male energy conflict). If you go to La Serrano hostel in Salento (an eco-hostel and a beautiful place to stay in), they would tell you where/when or simply bring you with them.
  • Taita Tulio’s yage ceremonies in Putumayo, Colombia: Taita Tulio and Taita Querubin are the elders of my long-time shaman Alberto and I have been fortunate enough to sit with them in several occasions. They are from the Kofan tribe and perform authentic ceremonies following their routes in their indigenous outfits, and playing their amazing instruments.

You can find their info on their facebook page and watch their video below:

  • Lastly I have friends who are organize ceremonies near Bogota. I’ll be happy to try to help if you email me (asleone@gmail.com).

ECUADOR

Shaman Geovanny does ceremonies with both medicine and without medicine in his sweat lodge and they are all very powerful. He is an experienced shaman and healer and also makes healing oils. I met him in a retreat in Colombia and did san pedro in the temazcal (sweat lodge) as well as in his beautiful place in Ecuador.

His English is not advanced so you can write him in very simple plain English indicating you’d like to join a circle of its happening around your travel dates. His email is geovanny_153@yahoo.com and he is very responsive.

If none of these work, you can trust that the medicine will find you this way or another! 😉

I wish you the best of luck in your journeys and would love to hear about your experience!

My question to guru Mooji about his perspective on Ayahuasca from his satsang in March 2016, in Rishikesh, India:

“I feel so grateful to Ayahuasca for giving me the objective introspection I desperately needed. It slapped me in the face and opened my eyes to the true nature of reality. Of course the experience wears off but the my eyes are now open… wide open.The insight I have gained and the positive changes I have made will never wear off. There are many paths which will all ultimately lead to the same goal. We all have to cross this river at some point but which rocks we use to cross it is our choice…”



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3 Comments Add yours

  1. marsha says:

    Great story and experience about the wonders of Ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is really an amazing plant that can help many people cure their diseases and just forget their problems.

    Like

  2. Michael says:

    I like your story and applaud your bravery. Last summer I hacked through Spain – little over 500 miles in 35 days on a Camino DE Santiago French Route, and fell in love with long-distance backpacking. Your trip through Columbia and ayahuasca experience inspire me to take a trip also. Would you recommend any particular retreats in any part of Latin America that are known for the best shamans, medicine, and overall experience? I would greatly appreciate any feedback. Namaste

    Like

    1. Thank you Michael! I saw a movie about camino de santiago and it is super cool. Congrats on finishing it! There are so many centers in the Iquitos area as you can imagine and the ones that have a website are targeting westerners, hence the prices are high. I am talking about $2000 for a week. While I cannot vouch for them I heard about this retreat from a few ppl I crossed paths with.
      Shipibo Ayahuasca Retreat in the Amazon – Iquitos, Peru
      templeofthewayoflight.org/

      The one I found randomly, which I talk about in my blog can be reached by calling Jorge Luis Valderrama Tuanama: 984 80 32 52. He speaks only Spanish and the ceremonies were with Shaman Lorenzo and wife Isabel.

      In Colombia: there is a shaman called Manuel in Salento, Colombia. If you go to hostel Serano, they would tell you where/when.

      The retreat I am going in Colombia for the last 2 years is private and I cannot share the name unfortunately.

      But if you are ready, the medicine will find you this way or another! 😉

      Good luck with your ayahuasca journey. It is amazing!

      Like

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