The Best Ayahuasca Retreats Around the World

ayahuasca ceremonies

It’s important to choose the best ayahuasca retreats for ayahuasca ceremonies. We’ve been to a few around the world. Here are some of the safest and best!

By Chere Di Boscio

Twenty years ago, ayahuasca (sometimes also called yage) was barely known by Westerners. But this powerful plant medicine had been revered by those peoples living in the Amazon for millennia. They knew this brew could do so much: heal the body to help people have spiritual revelations regarding their purpose on earth, know the true nature of the universe, and learn how they could fulfill their true potential.

In short, it can provide a powerful spiritual awakening, and those who take it even report they visit  higher spiritual dimensions and make contact with various spiritual or extra-dimensional beings who can act as guides or healers.

Why ayahuasca is not to be taken lightly

But this is no ‘recreational drug’. Serious vomiting or diarrhea can follow ayahuasca ingestion. Such purging is considered by many shamans to be the release of negative energy and emotions built up over the course of one’s life.

The ingestion of ayahuasca can also cause significant, but temporary, emotional and psychological distress. Excessive use can lead to serotonin syndrome, and there have even been  deaths after people drank ayahuasca with unscreened heart conditions, interaction with other drugs, caffeine, or nicotine.

For that reason, it’s essential to choose one of the best ayahuasca retreats in the world.

What To Look For In An Ayahuasca Retreat

Proper shamans

Before you decide to try ayahuasca, there are a few things you should look for in a retreat.

First of all, you need to find a knowledgeable shaman. Preferably one who comes from a long, traditional lineage. Such shamans – often called ‘curanderos’ – bring many advantages. For example:

  • they know how to expertly prepare the ayahuasca brew
  • they’ll provide the right dosage to you, depending on your weight, height, gender and experience
  • these mystics can even enter your energetic space and ‘bring you back’ from any panic or danger from your experience
  • they will sing the icaros – or, the songs that activate the spirit of ayahuasca. Icaros also call in allies, connect with nature, help set intention, give protection, grounding, and healing, and more

Working with a reputable curandero is essential also because many charlatans have arisen to exploit tourists’ interest in ayahuasca. Some have even robbed and raped their clients whilst they were under the influence of ayahuasca.

Small groups

Personally, I’d also recommend a retreat that works with very small groups. Again, tourist interest in the plant medicine means that many retreats try to pack in as many people as possible into ayahuasca ceremonies to get more money. However, in large groups, little attention is paid to each individual’s experience.

When I took ayahuasca, there were two people holding space for every one client. I found this very supportive, and in one case, it was thoroughly necessary for someone in my group who was suffering severe emotional trauma under the influence of the medicine.

Image credit: Temple of the way of the light

ayahuasca ceremonies

Medical attention

Emotional trauma experienced under ayahuasca is no joke. In Peru, there was even a murder that resulted in someone’s terrible aya visions. And there have been several cases of death. I repeat: as beneficial as it can be, this medicine is not to be taken lightly.

That’s why I’d recommend having access to medical attention wherever you go for your journey. Some retreats, like Etnikas, have doctors and nurses on staff. Others have hospitals nearby.

Ritualistic cleansing

But leaving the realm of empirical science, I’d also say undergoing ritualistic cleansing before and after your ceremony is essential. It’s believed that ayahuasca opens portals to different dimensions, and you need to be protected from whatever entities may penetrate your energetic space before and after your ceremony.

A good shaman will, of course, know how to do this.


As important as the ceremony itself is how you integrate the experience you have from the medicine. A shaman can help you decode any symbolism you see, whilst ‘sharing groups’ can also help you process your experience. Some retreats even have psychologists on staff. In any case, ensure your retreat helps you understand what just happened to you. You shouldn’t be left in a lurch, trying to figure out what you experienced all on your own.

Ultimately, word of mouth is the best way to go. And that’s why we’re now publishing this list of the best ayahuasca retreats around the world.

I, my staff or people I know well have been to all of these places. I can firmly state I know these retreats will deliver the safest and most potentially life changing experiences possible.

The Best Ayahuasca Retreats Around the World

1. The Cautious One: Etnikas

This is definitely one of the best ayahuasca retreats in the world. Because it’s one of the very safest.

After a client passed away (due to mixing ayahuasca with street drugs and medications), this retreat has become super cautious in its ayahuasca ceremonies.

A doctor, psychologist, translator, nurse, and shaman are all on hand to ensure you are safe and sound both physically and mentally at all times. The doctor and psychologist evaluate each person before the ceremony to ensure they’re mentally and physically fit enough to undergo it. The psychologist offers follow-up visits to make sure you’ve processed your experience thoroughly afterwards.

Uniquely, the retreat offers blessings and cleansing by both a Q’ero paquo (a kind of Andean shaman) and a Shipibo ayahuascero (an Amazonian shaman) to ensure all energies are clean and safe before and after ceremonies.

Rooms here are humble. The can be shared three to a room! But this is an excellent place to visit for plant medicine first timers, or those interested in Peruvian indigenous cultures. One visitor who enjoyed his stay here includes the head of Tibetan Buddhism. He said one night here was like ’25 years of meditative practice.’ So hey, if it’s good enough for him…

Where: Peru

Why it’s great: Plenty of Western medical attention is mixed in with authentic indigenous ceremonies

ayahuasca ceremonies

2. The Celeb Hangout: Rythmia

Kelly Slater, Michelle Rodriguez and Graham Hancock are but a few celebrities who have participated in ayahuasca ceremonies at this Costa Rican resort. Talks by leading alternative health experts and mystics are often a highlight here, as is the excellent vegan cuisine.

Spiritual healing, intellectual stimulation, physical wellness, and luxuriating in nature all take place in lush, large, highly private surroundings punctuated by a cooling, soothing swimming pool. The gracious staff are always on hand to ensure your experience is nothing short of wonderful.

This is one of the best ayahuasca retreats for finding inspiration. It’s not uncommon for motivational talks and seminars to take place here, given by high profile people in the world of spirituality, including Dr Joseph Mercola, Foster and Kimberly Gamble, Panache Desai, and many others. However, we have reservations about the number of people who are involved in ceremonies. This can be up to 70! We don’t think that gives you the personalised attention you may need.

Want more details about what goes on here? Check out our in depth review here.

Where: Costa Rica

Why it’s great: There are some excellent lifestyle talks given here by alternative celebrities.

Rythmia life advancement centre

3. The Holistic One: Avalon’s Retreats in Europe

This place is insanely luxurious! It all happens within 6.5 hectares of gardens surrounded by water, in a mill house that now holds celebrations. 

With genuine care at its roots, this retreat covers every aspect of what you might need for you to initiate deep healing journeys through self-awareness. 

An extended team of 25 people, led by a trained psychologist, will make sure you’ll unpack by day what you experience by night. They are Europe’s best at their craft, starting with holotropic breathwork, yoga, energy therapies, healing massage, hypnotherapy, and silent ecstatic dance, all the way to food awareness workshops. 

What’s cool about them is that they’re always open to making changes in their integration programs according to the needs of their current guests. They’ve got a prep video call before the retreat, offer guidelines for preparation, and later on integration, including group calls. 

What’s important to know here is that they only invite highly experienced shamans to perform their ayahuasca ceremonies. They are all well-trained according to the ancestral traditions of tribes from Colombia, Peru, and Brazil. 

Where: Barcelona and Ibiza, Spain 

Why it’s great: Their integration is gold and the food is gonna make you crawl out of bed every single time!

Avalon’s Retreats in Europe

4. The Popular One: Gaia Sagrada

Authentic Ecuadorian Shamans help guide your unforgettable experience through consciousness. Over the course of 12 days, they will lead you through your experiences with ayahuasca and San Pedro. This is one of the best ayahuasca retreats for those who want to ensure they’re in trusted, experienced hands. Unlike other countries, in Ecuador, shamans have to be certified and authorised to practice their trade. We think that’s a great thing!

Expect all the mod cons in this Andean retreat, including not only wifi and hot showers, but also hot tubs and a sauna. Gaia Sagrada has all the facilities you need to help you focus on your inner journey. Choose between shared dorm rooms, or Casa Tranquila, the house with private bedrooms but shared common areas.

After just a few hours here, you’ll soon understand why this aya retreat is top ranked on all review sites.

Where: Ecuador

Why it’s great: The shamans are highly experienced and regulated. You won’t just get some guy who fancies himself one because he took ayahuasca a few times!

Gaia Sagrada

5. The Traditional Jungle One: Pulse

Apart from ayahuasca, Pulse works with plant medicines such as Nunu, which is fine. But they also work with kambo. We do NOT approve of or recommend the latter, due to the fact that this causes serious stress and harm to animals.

Still, this is one of the best ayahuasca retreats for those who want the experience in the natural setting that aya comes from. The Shipibo shamans on staff here obviously have great respect for the plants and the knowledge and healing that comes with them. They’re well versed in how to run ayahuasca ceremonies! You’ll feel like you’re part of their community as you merge with nature at the 2.2 million hectare Pacaya Samiria National Reserve surrounding the retreat.

Fresh, clean, delicious meals promote your ayahuasca experience, and you’ll learn to integrate healthy habits into your routine with our yoga classes and extensive selection of gym equipment, too.

It’s strongly believed here that the health of physical body sets the foundation for the health of the energetic body – a fact that is often ignored at ayahuasca retreats. Relax your mind and spirit with sound baths, meditations, pranayama breathwork, and chanting circles. Or simply enjoy the tranquil views of the Ucayali River, surrounded by lush biodiversity and the mesmerizing sounds of the jungle.

Where: Peru

Why it’s great: You’re deep in the heart of nature – where Mother Aya is from, and wants you to be! However, be aware that any needed medical care is quite a distance away.

6. The Tropical One: Spirit Vine Retreats

The excellence of this retreat is the attention to detail in every aspect! There’s the magical setting of the jungle (Atlantic rainforest) together with the astonishing beaches of the Atlantic ocean. You’ll love the bungalow accommodations with breathtaking views, and the delicious vegan and vegetarian food.

But this is also one of the best ayahuasca retreats for hospitality, personal safety, attention, and comfort. We also love that they prepare their own organic ayahuasca, grown on their own land.

The highlight of this retreat is the workshops by the co-founder, Silvia Polivoy. She’s a licensed psychologist who has been working with modified states of consciousness and ayahuasca for over 25 years. Silvia has integrated all her background with shamanic techniques to effectively guide those who feel attracted to this combination of eastern and western methods.

Through ayahuasca ceremonies, participants learn to journey safely to source, which is the spiritual realm. Through this, they can transform their blockages and reconnect with their power. These techniques can be used not just during the ayahuasca ceremonies; they can also be applied in everyday life to overcome obstacles.

There are yoga classes on the day of the ceremony to help participants feel a deeper connection with themselves. This is also very helpful in preparation for the ceremony. There is also ample free time to relax, process the experiences, the option to get a massage, and visit the nearby beaches.

Where: Brazil

Why it’s great: The retreat offers loads of really useful workshops to help you integrate and understand your experience.


Spirit Vine Retreats

Do you know of any of the other best ayahuasca retreats around the world? Let us know in the comments, below!

Chere Di Boscio
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35 thoughts on “The Best Ayahuasca Retreats Around the World”

  1. Has anyone ever come across a Jonathan (Jonny) Dunn at one of these retreats. We know he is at one somewhere and we are trying to get a message to him from his family in the UK. Thanks in advance

  2. Liliya Khokhlova

    Etnikas is NOT a safe retreat. My boyfriend died here on ayahusca. We choose that place because they promised to have a doctor available at all times. When my partner was dying there was no doctor and no nurses. No one that can help me or him. He died due to Negligence of the people of that resort. Do not ever do your ayahusca journey here. Terrible place. No one was there to help me. I was left alone to try to Resuscitate him for 4 hours. They completely lie and are not safe at all.

    1. Hi Liliya, I cannot begin to imagine how devastating that has been for you, I’m so sorry for your loss.
      I’m due to go to Etnikas next week with my boyfriend and was trying to do some research before hand, please is there anyway I can contact you or you contact me? I’m on Facebook as Jen Dunkley from Northampton. I’d really appreciate your help.
      All the best

      1. Hi Jen! I’ve been researching Etnikas as I was considering visiting there. Then, stumbled on this site and Liliya’s comment. Did you end up going? If so, how was your experience?

        Thank you,

  3. Jonathan de Potter

    Thanks Chere for this compiled list of 5 best ayahuasca retreats. Mother Ayahuasca is undoubtedly the plant medicine which helps connect people with their true selves and elevates consciousness. A lot of leaders, executives and entrepreneurs are now entering the psychedelic world to experience powerful transformations and unleash their true potential. Even scientists are conducting clinical trials to prove the medical benefits of these sacred medicines. While choosing the retreats, one must do proper research and go for such retreats which are reputed in the psychedelics industry for many years. We have compiled a list of 10 Best Safe and Legal Ayahuasca Retreats which will give the readers a fair idea about where to head for a safe experience.

      1. I am a very spiritual person and feel best when closest to being one with nature as much us crazy humans seem capable of being.i have been abusing cocaine and heroin for around 20 years and have somehow not lost my sense of self nor my moral believe system and. values. For over 10yrs I have not been able to understand how I see so clearly all I have and will continue to loose and the lack of accomplishment I felt in the life style I was living and so much to gain from changing my life by removing the drug abuse I had made such a immence part of my daily life for so very long. I have always felt that there must be some price of info. That I was lacking and I would suddenly have some apiffany when this info. came to me and it would all be so clear and obvious. Well…. I believe that I was somewhat right. And I feel that Ayahuasca with the help of the right shaman is where I can find this clearity. I have been searching for info. On when ,where, and cost of such a place. Cost is a bit of a concern I have but I believe that if it is meant to be it will all come together. Time is of some importance as I feel I am at a crossroads in my life and now is time for this change,as I am 48 yrs young and I have a lot I intend to learn and accomplish in this life but time continued to move after I became basically stagnant in so many ways. So I need to get started if I intend to fulfill these hopes and accomplishments with the yrs I have left and still maintain the mental and physical health necessary to do so. Please respond with the info I need to find my way to the situation I am seeking. Thank u for offering this awakening to thoughs who seek it. I am awaiting our wisdom. Hannah🙃

        1. I am Canadian and I would like to get what I am looking for someplace close for financial reasons. But also feel going to the source may be a very important part of the journey. Hannah Bennee again.

          1. Hi Hannah! I personally think going to the source is a very important component of the experience. Peru is in the same time zone, and pretty cheap as a country! Might be worth saving up for. I’d highly recommend Etnikas for a newbie.

    1. Hi Vickie! Thanks for getting in touch. Ayahuasca is illegal in Bali, and the penalties for taking any kind of plant medicine like it are extremely harsh. I’d personally advise strongly against doing this in Bali.

  4. I like how you promote top listings in different categories of “Best” – since everyone has their own definition of what “Best” means to them. I’ve only been to which is a new retreat center started by Santiago a well-known shaman who used to work at Gaia Sagrada. He now runs his own center and although I’ve only been to this retreat, I’ve talked to many others who know him as one of the best real traditional shamans who can speak English. Much love!

    1. Thanks for the recommend Neil! You’re right: ‘best’ is very subjective, but all of these retreats were visited and verified by staffers or those close to them….it’s nice to have one more to consider, though, so thanks for your comment!

  5. Hello,

    I would like to add to the list. If you research the center Kawsay Ayahuasca Retreat you will see the extraordinary healing work that is performed by old-time ayahuasca shamans and genuine San Pedro shamans. The ceremonies are done in the old time tradition with fantastic results in healing.

  6. Great article !!
    Other than this list I would really like to recommend is
    Their Retreat is well organized and the property is magical. The shamans were incredible and all the individuals working there were warm and genuine. The person organizing the retreat is an American who has lived for over 40 years in Latin America, the last 10 working with Ayahuasca in both Peru and Mexico. The center is located in the heart of the jungle with bungalows, a pool and the traditional space for Ayahuasca ceremonies called a maloca. This is one of the best place to heal your soul and give your mind peace. I’m sure you won’t regret it.
    I’ll highly recommend you to give a shot..because its worth it !!

  7. This is a great article that shows just how far ayahuasca has traveled from the Amazon rainforest. Thanks for posting it. There are numerous centers in South America and especially Peru. The Ayahuasca Foundation offers healing retreats but they also offer courses that teach traditional healing methods from the Shipibo tradition as well as holistic integrative practices like epigenetics and breathwork.
    The Ayahuasca Foundation courses involve Noya Rao diets as well as diets with plants like bobinsana, marusa, chullachaqui, and chiric sanango. They also offer botanical plant medicine courses and host research at their new research center. Worth checking out…

  8. Fantastic article, thank you!!
    I was very fortunate to find AYA Healing Retreats an Ayahuasca retreat ceneter in Peru, last year
    They are extraordinary people and their Shaman have great knowledge of plant medicine and us human.
    They also work with Master Plant Dieta witch I think its the best way to combine an Ayahuasca retreat with the knowledge and support from other plants.
    I did my diet with Noya Rao, and I will be forever grateful for this experience, it did change my life in way than not in my wildest dreams I would have thought.
    Thank you so much to Mother Ayahuasca, Noya Rao and to all team at AYA Healing Retreats!!

    1. I’ve been in several ayahuasca retreat centers in the last few years, but really, Aya Healing Retreats is still one of the best so far. They’re on another level for integrity and professionality. I’m planning to go back next year!

        1. Thank you Pauline & Terry for the kind words off affirmation, the team at AYA Healing Retreats lives for this sort of feedback from their work.

          Most of the retreats are located in Iquitos Peru at El Encanto De Chullachaqui (the name of the retreat center).

          But they also have popup offerings around the world, with Costa Rica, Portugal, and Spain on the list for the upcoming year.

        2. Most of the retreats are located in Iquitos Peru at El Encanto De Chullachaqui (the name of the retreat center).

          But they also have popup offerings around the world, with Costa Rica, Portugal, and Spain on the list for the upcoming year

      1. hi Terry,
        I read your post from 2019 and am wondering if you have discovered any other retreat centers you would recommend. I am looking for a smaller group setting, ideally in Mexico and prefer a beautiful space as this counts as my year’s vacation :). thank you, carolyn

    2. Pauline and Terry, thank you for the kind words of affirmation. I’ll be sure to pass it along to the team, this is the sort of thing that makes their day.

      Currently AYA Healing Retreats runs most of their retreats out of Iquitos at a center called El Encanto De Chullachaqui.

      They also have pop-up offerings around the world with this year including Portugal, Spain, and Costa Rica.

      The AYA Healing Retreats website has more info..

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