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All about Ayahuasca
Spiritual Salkantay Trek
San Pedro cactus
Traveling to Peru
Ayahuasca is a brew made from leaves of the Psychotria viridis plant along with the stalks of the Banisteriopsis caapi plant both growing in the Amazon rainforest. Ayahuasca is also known as “the vine of the soul” or “la purga”, which literally means “the purge”. This sacred drink has been used for many centuries by ancient Amazonian tribes in South America and is traditionally prepared by an experienced shamanic healer who leads the ayahuasca ceremonies and prepares the brew by boiling the two plants in water. After the boiling process the water is removed, leaving the plant material behind. This process is repeated until a highly concentrated liquid is produced. Once the brew is cooled, it is ready for the ceremonies. The two main ingredients of ayahuasca (banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis) both have hallucinogenic properties (DMT and β-carbolines) which lead to an altered state of consciousness when combined, such as hallucinations, out-of-body experiences and euphoria. During the ayahuasca retreat our medical team and experienced shamans will be with you, so they can make sure that you are in good condition to participate
The ayahuasca ceremonies are usually held at night and last until the effects of the ayahuasca drink have worn off. Our ayahuasca retreat starts with a sacred ceremony led by our shaman and a meditation session to get into the right mindset. Our shamanic healer offers the ayahuasca brew to each participant. You will be at our retreat center in the sacred valley of Cusco, surrounded by nature and a peaceful environment. There are comfortable beds for everybody, so you feel safe and good during the ayahuasca ceremony. After consuming ayahuasca, most of the people start to feel the effects within 20 to 60 minutes. The trip can last 2-6 hours, depending on the dose. After taking ayahuasca, many participants experience symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, strong hallucinations, feelings of euphoria and out-of-body experiences. Some of the adverse effects, such as vomiting and diarrhea, are considered a normal part of the cleansing experience. Everybody reacts differently to ayahuasca. This means that some experience a trip with spiritual enlightenment, euphoria and life-changing visions, while others go through moments of anxiety and panic. During the whole ceremony, our ayahuasca shaman and medical team guides you throughout this experience and monitors your safety and well-being. Every time you take ayahuasca, the experience can be completely different for you.
Participating in an ayahuasca ceremony is an opportunity for deep healing and personal transformation. An ayahuasca journey provides profound insights and is great potential for healing your body, spirit and mind. Besides the spiritual and awakening experience, there are recently more and more researches about the benefits of ayahuasca. According to current research, ayahuasca may protect brain cells and stimulate neural cell growth. Researchers are still investigating the actual effects of the sacred plant medicine and are trying to find out in which way it boosts mood, improves mindfulness, treats depression and addiction disorders.
People with colon problems, high blood pressure, heart conditions, diabetes, or mental illness should be cautious since ayahuasca can have strong effects on your body. You cannot do the ayahuasca ceremony while being pregnant. Besides, period pain and discomfort may result in a negative experience while taking ayahuasca. This is why we recommend you not to do the ayahuasca experience during your period. However, if you do not experience severe pain or discomfort, it is okay for you to participate. We recommend waiting until the second or third day of a period to allow you to gauge the intensity of the pain. The most important thing is that you feel ready for this retreat experience.
You should be in the city of Cusco at least 2 days before the retreat starts, so your body has some time to acclimatise to the high altitude. If you arrive the day of your retreat, you cannot do the ayahuasca ceremony and must postpone your retreat for the next date available. In this case a refund is not possible. The safety of our guests is our highest priority, this is why we want to prevent people from getting altitude sickness under the effect of ayahuasca, since this can be a serious health risk. Besides, you must give us a medical report from your doctor to make sure that your general health condition is good. You can either take a copied scan or the original letter from your doctor with you, or send us the document per mail. This medical report is mandatory to be able to participate in this retreat. If you cannot bring the letter, you will have to make a check up with a doctor in Cusco. If you have any physical or psychological medical conditions or are under any medication treatment, please let us know before you book your retreat. Participants older than 50 years require an additional stress test.
The diet purifies the body and mind for this shamanic healing experience, but also makes sure that your ayahuasca experience is safe. This is why we recommend you NOT to eat/consume at least two weeks before the retreat: pork, alcohol, cannabis, drugs and spicy food. Please do not take any prescribed medications or drugs two weeks before the retreat starts. Ayahuasca is a potent form of medicine and can therefore have different effects when combined with other medications. One week before the retreat, you should abstain from: red meat, junk foods, sweets or candies, carbonated drinks (including diet sodas, energy drinks and non-alcoholic beer), dairy products, fermented foods, caffeine and other stimulants. The last couple of days before the retreat, we suggest you eat well. Do not make any extreme diets! It is important that you are in a good condition and feel well before the retreat. Try to reduce the consumption of salt, pepper and oil three days before the retreat. Good organic food with a moderate amount of salt and sugar is recommended. In terms of meat you may consume chicken or fish. On the day of the retreat, please eat a light breakfast based on juice and fruits, no bread or dairy products!
We recommend you to set an intention, since the plant medicine ceremony can be overwhelming and it can serve as an anchor in your ayahuasca ceremony to remember your intention and what brought you to explore or heal in the first place. In the days or weeks leading up to your ayahuasca ceremony, take a moment to reflect on why you feel called to drink ayahuasca. What do you seek to learn or to understand? How do you feel about your life? What is difficult for you at the moment? The answers to these questions can be used to create intentions most relevant to you. For your spirit and mind it helps to do spiritual practices that embrace your connection with your inner world. It is good to be in a peaceful environment, to take walks in nature, to meditate, to practice yoga or breathwork, and more. Do mindful activities that help you to be more aware and present before the retreat starts. Besides, many Andean shamans suggest that you refrain from having sex or masturbating two weeks before the retreat starts as this can reduce physical energy levels making it harder to cope with the effects of ayahuasca.
The best time to book your Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is during the dry season in the Andes Mountains, which is usually from early April to late October. During the dry season, there is almost no rain and the hike is more comfortable and a lot safer because the terrain is dry, steep and rocky. During the rainy season from November to late March, the temperatures are lower, it can get very windy and there are many heavy rainfalls. Sometimes you will even have some parts of your trek covered in snow due to the raining conditions and cold climate. We recommend you to do any type of hiking adventure during the dry season, so you can enjoy the beautiful scenery to the maximum.
The Inca Trail is more crowded than the Salkantay Trek because it is an original trail of the Incas and one of the most famous hikes in the world, attracting thousands of trekkers every year. It is the only trek that leads directly to Machu Picchu, but is therefore a lot more expensive than the Salkantay Trek. On the Salkantay Trek you will spend the last night in a hotel in Aguas Calientes before visiting Machu Picchu the next day. During the Inca Trail you will discover ancient Inca ruins, whereas the Salkantay offers more wildlife and high mountain sceneries. Many trekkers consider the Salkantay Trek to be a bit more strenuous than the Inca Trail because the general altitude is higher. The Salkantay Trek offers the best alternative to the Inca Trail for everybody who doesn't like crowded paths and enjoys different landscapes during the trek.
Our professional guides are trained in case you get sick. There are many ways to make you feel better and treat altitude sickness. For example, chewing coca leaves or drinking coca tea helps you and the leaves don’t have any negative effects. Our guides always carry oxygen bottles with them that you can use in emergencies. If you feel bad you also have the option of coming back to Cusco and then go to Aguas Calientes by yourself to meet up with your trekking group to visit Machu Picchu on your last day.
The weather is very unpredictable and changes quickly in the Andes Mountains. Even though it is almost impossible to predict the weather during your trekking adventure, we can say that the first nights will be quite cold due to the altitude and weather conditions in the high mountains. It can get down to 5 degrees Celsius, which feels even colder on windy nights. Towards the end of your Salkantay Trek, you will be in the Peruvian jungle, which means that the climate will be more tropical and warm (25 degrees Celsius).
You can take a small day backpack with you with the items you might need throughout the day (bug spray, jacket, snacks, water, sunscreen, etc.). We will provide you a duffel bag during the five days of your Salkantay Trek, which can carry about 7 kilograms and will be carried by the horses.
The effects of San Pedro medicine last for 8 to 12 hours. After taking the San Pedro cactus, many people describe the state of consciousness as enjoyable, euphoric and dream-like. Very often you may feel lethargic or sleepy before the great visions start. It is possible that you may throw up to release the bad energy within you. The effects of the plant can also cause a feeling of slight numbness of your body or a fast heartbeat. Your perception can be changed, for example the intensity of colors, the movements and the visual things you see. The visions usually are not constant but come in waves. Our shamanic healer guides you through the San Pedro ceremony and ensures that your mind, body and spirit is cleansed. It is possible that you still feel effects after the ceremony. However, the effects generally stop after around 8 hours and are less effective as time moves on. The effect of San Pedro has an extroverted and introverted part. The extroverted part refers to the intense connection and harmony between yourself, nature and the whole cosmos. The introverted part is more personal and describes everything you feel if you let it happen. This can be any emotions, personal experiences, inner blockades, and more. There will be a breaking point in which you feel pure happiness, love and inner peace.
A San Pedro journey provides deep insights and life-changing experiences, giving you a greater sense of connection and spirituality. Mescaline is also known for fostering compassion and gratitude, and helping people save personal problems, access their creativity and be more environmentally conscious. The sacred plant has also been known for its function as a powerful medicine with the ability to cure “unknown diseases”, especially in the Andes culture of Peru. There is actually scientific proof of the medicinal benefits from taking San Pedro. Researchers have shown that the San Pedro cactus is able to reduce hypertension and the risk of heart disease, to treat nerve disease and to alleviate joint problems.
The San Pedro medicine has to be boiled before consuming. You have to remove the spines from the cactus and cut off the skin. Only this part is used for the San Pedro ceremony because the white part in the middle of the plant is not good for your body. The sacred plant can be consumed as tea or blended drink after boiling it. There are also other techniques, like the drying technique after. However, the cactus always has to be boiled before taking it.
Before your San Pedro ceremony in Cusco, we recommend you to eat well. Do not eat meat and spicy food one day before the ceremonial experience. Besides, you should not take drugs or alcohol at least one week before your ceremony, On your last day, you can eat a light, vegetarian dinner. The effects of San Pedro medicine are more effective when you fast around 12 hours before your spiritual experience. This means that a simple, meatless dinner and no breakfast before your ceremony is the best preparation for your San Pedro ceremony. You can arrive on an empty stomach and will have an organic snack during the ceremony. It is also recommended to wear comfortable, warm clothes. Besides, many shamans recommend to refrain from having sex or masturbating two weeks before the retreat since this can reduce your physical energy level, which is making it harder to cope with the effects of San Pedro. For your spirit and mind it helps to do spiritual practices that embrace your connection with your inner world. It is good to be in a peaceful environment, to take walks in nature, to meditate, to practice yoga or breathwork, and more. Do mindful activities that help you to be more aware and present.
Flying to Cusco can be tricky because delays often occur and due to the special conditions at the airport of Cusco, it is not uncommon for flights to be cancelled. Please be sure to arrive in the city of Cusco at least two days before your trip starts. The most reliable airline is LATAM because they offer you many re-booking options in case of a flight cancellation. We also suggest you to book your flight back the day after your retreat ends and NOT on the same day.
Anyone who wishes to enter Peru must fill out the Peru Affidavit at least 72 hours before their flight. All nationalities can apply. To obtain this travel form, you'll need to provide information about your flight, health status, and intended stay in Peru. You must adhere to the country's safety protocols.
Please contact us to know the updates of requirements, since the situation can change a lot in this pandemic.
Tipping is always appreciated and should completely be based on your satisfaction. Although tipping may not be usual to you, it is important to the people who’ll take care of you during your trip (drivers, translators, spiritual teachers, shamans, etc.).
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Every spiritual journey paid by our travelers, we pay it forward by donating 12% of what we earned to local community projects. You can decide which project you want to support: the dog shelter of Cusco, our reforestation project in Pucallpa or the children's home? We want to help people transform their lives and make Mother Earth a better place, committing to the Andean principle of Sumac Kausay.