Where to Drink Ayahuasca

Mee Ok never advises drinking ayahuasca without thoroughly vetted, highly skilled Shipibo maestras or maestros. While many tribes all over the Amazon serve ayahuasca and drink responsibly, the Shipibo tribe is one of the oldest with one of the most complete medicinal systems in the world (and it is genius). With a population of only 30,000 Shipibo-Conibo left in the world, there is a reason they are the king of the jungle: that are some of the most renowned for being the most precise ayahuasca surgeons in the world. Among these, there are many Shipibo who pour the medicine, but few true maestras and maestros with the knowledge, competency, and integrity to serve medicine — and are willing to share it with Westerners.

The following are retreat centers Mee Ok recommends for those drinking for the first time because they not only provide complete support (both shamanic and Western), but also insist that their team is impeccable. They are highly sought-after places to work because the founders treat and pay those under their care extremely well, ensuring some of the most caring, powerful, and knowledgeable ayahuasca practitioners in the world. Without true indigenous healers with connections to the plants that take decades to establish and the birthright of the jungle, the rich history, context, and depth of the medicine work is lost. Such practices of colonialism and cultural appropriation by Westerners reduce this experience to a mere psychedelic, a powerful drug. With the Shipibo, you are truly working with the spirit of ayahuasca.

As always, do your own due diligence and deeply research these and any other facilities you may consider. Many people are hurt by this medicine when in the wrong hands. Should you decide to drink outside of these options, Mee Ok strongly suggests drinking solely with maestras, especially if you are a woman, and never on land where it is not legal or with non-indigenous practitioners.

Temple of the Way of the Light (Peru)

Peru is the home of the Shipibo, and the Temple of the Way of the Light has been the gold standard of ayahuasca retreats since it opened in 2007, working with some of the most respected Shipibo healers, who are well known for their mastery of ayahuasca and plant-spirit healing. They offer intensive 12-day healing retreats and will soon be launching specialized long-term programs for war veterans, western medical practitioners, leaders / changemakers, and an extended integration program incorporating Dr. Gabor Maté‘s Compassionate Inquiry, a unique, psychotherapeutic approach to healing through the lens of science and compassion. They are also planning to hold the first retreat in the Amazon exclusively for the LGBTQ+ community.

We specialize in providing the highest-quality healing for our guests, hosting scientific research studies, blending ancient Amazonian healing traditions with progressive psychotherapy and Eastern integrative/spiritual practices and comprehensively focusing on integration and aftercare support.

Operating with deep integrity, the Temple is a pioneering spiritual healthcare organization and has been a model of inspiration for many other centres, facilitators, and practitioners for over a decade. Their site is permaculture inspired, eco-centred, off-grid, and intentionally without wifi and electricity for guests in order to disconnect from the modern world, dive deep into healing, and reconnect with rhythms of nature.

Watch a video of Dr. Maté speak about his experience at the Temple.

Soltara Healing Center (Costa Rica)

After opening in 2018, Soltara launched with a bang. And its sterling reputation is well-deserved: with gorgeous grounds, luxury accommodations, and an incredible team (many of which also worked at the Temple), it serves as an excellent option for those who are unable to travel to the jungle and/or desire a gentler environment in which to experience the medicine. It is also a wonderful opportunity for those with disabilities. Its ADA-accessible designed accommodations allow those in wheelchairs to participate in ceremony and retire to comfortable quarters with wheel-in showers and roll-up sinks.

A global online community and oceanfront retreat center in the mountainous tropical forest of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, our mission is to create safe sanctuary for integration, personal empowerment, respecting tradition, education, professionalism, reciprocity, and pura vida.

Soltara is doing it right, promoting local, organic farming and permaculture, supporting the integration process during and after the retreat, serving veteran populations with specialized retreat programs and promotions, and offering scholarships to low-income individuals and people of color. Every month they invite those who would not otherwise be able to afford this powerful medicine to come drink for free. If you are able, please consider donating to this fund to help right the inequities within the plant community.

Niwe Rao Xobo

Niwe Rao Xobo is unique in the world of ayahuasca on two counts. It is a traditional Shipibo medicinal plant healing center fully run by a Shipibo family, and it is matriarchal: you will be served solely by maestras, unless some of them are away and some male members of the family or a family friend fills in. In the world of ayahuasca, it is the women who advance the fastest, and Maestra Ynes is no doubt one of the last remaining healers of her generation with such a high level of experience — 55+ years working with the medicine and several long isolation diets (2 years!) with powerful trees.

Their retreat center offers plant diets, or dietas, for those wishing to go deeper into the medicine or cure a specific disease. Maestra Ynes and her daughters Laura and Lila also serve medicine at the Temple, but at Niwe Rao Xobo, they offer healing from their home in Pucallpa at a very low cost. They also offer remote healing for those who cannot travel. Mee Ok cannot recommend them more.

More Information

To figure out which retreat is right for you or to arrange a consultation with Mee Ok to learn more about opportunities for healing, send her a note!

To hear from the Shipibo themselves, this is a great 1-hour interview conducted by Dan Cleland, co-founder of Soltara, with four of the maestras and maestros who serve medicine there.

additional resources