For generations, spiritual adventurers, lost souls, and intrepid psychonauts have ventured to secluded retreat centres and distant Amazonian huts, seeking to immerse themselves in the transformative, mind-expanding world of psychedelic exploration through the consumption of the entheogenic elixir known as ayahuasca, rich in the psychoactive compound DMT. Rooted in tradition, this sacred concoction is crafted from two potent plants: Banisteriopsis caapi, a climbing vine, and Psychotria Viridis or Chacruna, a perennial shrub abundant in DMT. The caapi vine, an essential MAO inhibitor, ensures that the DMT remains intact and active within the stomach, producing its profound psychoactive effects. This comprehensive guide presents everything you need about Ayahuasca and a curated selection of ayahuasca retreat options throughout Europe.
Ayahuasca, the powerful and enigmatic plant medicine, has recently been making waves in the Western world, with ayahuasca retreats sprouting up like wildflowers across Europe. Some claim that a single night of consuming this brew is equivalent to a decade of therapy, leaving them forever transformed. However, for others, the experience can be disorienting and traumatic. The outcome of this profound inner journey hinges on various factors, such as one’s mental constitution, mindset on the day, preparation, ceremonial setting, and the expertise of the facilitators and shamans. One thing is certain: ayahuasca is a potent substance that can cause profound and life-altering effects and should never be taken lightly. To help you make an informed decision about where and with whom you partake in this powerful experience, here’s a comprehensive guide to all the crucial aspects of consuming ayahuasca.
Tim Ferris said that when you decide who you do ayahuasca with, “you would treat it like you are choosing a neurosurgeon to excise a tumour from your brain.”
Therefore, like choosing the right teacher for a yoga retreat, it is prudent to learn more about who is holding the space during an Ayahuasca ceremony, especially if you want to experience ayahuasca for the first time.
What is the Ayahuasca Plant?
This entheogen has long been considered a sacred plant, sometimes called Mother Ayahuasca. It is used in religious ceremonies and healing practices in Brazil, Peru, Columbia and Ecuador. It is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to magic mushrooms as a natural way to treat anxiety, depression, and addictions, heal past trauma and treat post-traumatic stress disorder in spiritual retreat contexts.
Ayahuasca is a psychedelic brew made from a blend of a vine found in the Amazon rainforest called ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi) and a shrub called chacruna (Psychotria Viridis), together they are cooked up to make the ayahuasca brew. It contains DMT (dimethyltryptamine) that can induce a hallucinogenic, deeply spiritual experience.
The author, Michael Pollan states in his book ‘How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.
“You go deep enough or far out enough in consciousness and you will bump into the sacred. It’s not something we generate; it’s something out there waiting to be discovered. And this reliably happens to nonbelievers as well as believers.”
What is the legal status of Ayahuasca Retreats in Europe?
The legality of ayahuasca in Europe varies(and changes) depending on the country in question. Much of Europe allows its use when the plant is consumed as part of a religious ceremony, although this can be a grey area. It is legal in Italy, Portugal and Romania, and Spain, it can be used in certain contexts but cannot be sold to the public. The best way to hear about ayahuasca ceremonies is by word of mouth. However, some retreats share information online (see our listings below). If you plan to attend a ceremony in a country where ayahuasca use is restricted or prohibited, you should be as discreet as possible.
How do you prepare for an Ayahuasca Journey?
With ayahuasca is to take time to prepare for the ceremony beforehand. Below is some information about how to prepare and what to expect, but the books listed in this section are recommended for more extensive preparation. For the month before your retreat, take care of your mind, body and spirit in every way by:
- Get out into nature as much as you can and get plenty of physical exercises
- Make sleep a priority; ayahuasca sessions usually go all night.
- Drink plenty of water and eat as clean as possible
- Develop a meditation or yoga practice to help you look inwards
You should also avoid cannabis for 24-48 hours before the ceremony, if possible. If you are taking prescription medications, please inform the retreat and ask for guidance, especially anti-depressants. Taking Ayahuasca with anti-depressants can lead to Serotonin Syndrome and can be fatal.
What is an Ayahuasca diet?
As part of the preparation process (see above), many retreat centres advise following a specific diet before your ceremony. This helps you benefit from the experience and avoid vomiting as your body attempts to purge ingested toxins. This generally includes eating clean wherever possible, filling your diet with fresh fruits and veggies, cutting processed foods and avoiding caffeine, alcohol and sugar. You should also reduce your consumption of red meat. For more guidance on specific recommendations, please ask your retreat centre.
What happens at an Ayahuasca ceremony?
When the ceremony takes place, you will be given a tea blend under the guidance of a Shaman. It has quite a distinctive flavour, and you might notice a slight burning sensation as you swallow it. It’s normal to feel apprehensive or excited at this stage. After around 30 minutes, you should start to notice an effect. Usually, you’ll notice an increase in body heat first. Your heart rate will increase, you’ll start to sweat, and you’ll notice that your thoughts are becoming more rapid and scattered. You might start to notice a tingling feeling around your body and see colour or flashes of light, which form into shapes. Eventually, you will pass into a trance-like state where your thoughts become more apparent, and you understand the visions and sounds shown. However, it’s important to remember that the experience differs for everyone. The ceremony may include alternate days with other healing plants such as San Pedro, Kambo or Rapè, which can have different effects, so it is best to check with the organiser.
Do you need a shaman? What is his or her role?
Having an experienced shaman or facilitator present during your ayahuasca ceremony is strongly recommended. The role of a shaman is to guide you through the experience, creating a safe and supportive environment and helping you navigate the visions, emotions, and insights that may arise during your journey. Shamans are often skilled in the use of traditional songs called icaros, which can help to set the tone and energy of the ceremony. They can also provide grounding energy and emotional support if needed. The presence of a knowledgeable shaman or facilitator can significantly impact the quality and safety of your ayahuasca experience, making it a crucial factor to consider when choosing a retreat. Nowadays, there are some excellent Western and indigenous and experienced shamans around the Ayahuasca circuit.
What are the dangers of taking Ayahuasca Tea?
For many individuals, the ayahuasca journey is a transformative and illuminating experience, providing an opportunity to heal from past traumas and embark on fresh paths. However, reactions to this powerful substance can differ significantly from one person to another. One common yet unpleasant side effect is intense vomiting, often accompanied by diarrhoea. Adhering to a specific ayahuasca diet before the ceremony can substantially alleviate these symptoms. It is crucial to know that ayahuasca may interact with other medications, particularly antidepressants. Consequently, seeking professional guidance before participating in a ceremony and maintaining open communication with the facilitators is essential. Additionally, those with heart conditions are advised to abstain from attending such ceremonies.
How do I integrate my Psychedelic Experiences from the Retreat?
Navigating the transition back to everyday life after a transformative experience can be daunting. Embracing practices such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness, along with immersing yourself in nature, can facilitate the integration of newfound insights. Conversation with fellow retreat attendees about your experiences can be a therapeutic outlet. To gain a deeper understanding of your journey within the broader context of your life, seeking professional guidance can be invaluable. We have teamed up with Psychedelics Integration, which can help with the challenges that powerful experiences can bring up whilst on retreat.
Help Choosing an Ayahuasca Retreat?
Choosing an Ayahuasca retreat can be challenging, especially if this is your first ayahuasca experience or you are new to plant medicine. It is essential to take some time to research different retreat centres and their practices before making your decision. Look for a retreat that offers a safe and supportive environment, experienced practitioners, and a positive track record. Consider the length of the retreat, the number of ceremonies offered, and the type of accommodation provided. Also, pay attention to the location and the accessibility of the retreat. You may also want to choose a retreat that aligns with your values and intentions. Finally, trust your intuition when selecting an Ayahuasca retreat. You should feel comfortable and reassured by the staff and the centre’s overall energy. A well-planned retreat can profoundly impact your life, and the key to a successful experience is picking the right one for you.
An Ayahuasca retreat in Europe provides the perfect opportunity to connect with your spiritual side, awaken your intuition, heal from trauma and start living a more meaningful life on your terms. Whichever of these retreats you choose, do some research before to ensure you are in the hands of trusted experts who will help you make the most of your spiritual deep dive.
What is the difference between Ayahuasca and San Pedro?
San Pedro and Ayahuasca are two different plant medicines that offer unique experiences. While both are known for their transformative and healing properties, they differ in terms of their effects and the nature of the experience.
San Pedro is often described as a gentler and more grounding experience than Ayahuasca. It is typically consumed during the day, and its effects can last up to 12 hours. San Pedro is known for its ability to induce a deep connection with nature and promote empathy, love, and compassion. It is often used for personal growth and self-discovery.
On the other hand, Ayahuasca is known for its intense and sometimes challenging effects. It is often consumed at night, and its effects can last several hours. Ayahuasca is known for its ability to induce powerful visionary experiences, often accompanied by profound insights and personal revelations. It is often used for spiritual growth, emotional healing, and overcoming deep-seated psychological issues.
Overall, while San Pedro and Ayahuasca can offer transformative and healing experiences, they differ in their effects and the nature of the experience. San Pedro is often considered a gentler and more grounding experience, while Ayahuasca is known for its intense visionary experiences and deep emotional healing. The If you are looking for San Pedro Retreat, check out Lighthouse Retreats in Portugal.
The authors of this post do not condone the use of illegal drugs. The information is for informational purposes only and is not intended to assess, diagnose, or treat any medical or mental health disease or condition. The information should not be considered a substitute for a thorough medical and/or mental health evaluation from an appropriately credentialed and licensed professional in your area. Please consult with such a professional to determine if ayahuasca is appropriate for you. Review My Retreat disclaim any liability, loss, injury, or damage from using or applying the information on this website or from your informed decision to partake in Ayahuasca.
Upcoming Ayahuasca Retreats | Discover the Best Ayahuasca Retreat in 2023
Ayahuasca Retreats in the Netherlands / Holland
As of Sept 2019 – Ayahuasca has been made illegal in Holland – so please check with the organisers whether their retreats are in Holland or at another venue.
Acsauhaya Shamanic Retreat Center
Offering both 4- and 5-day retreats and private ceremonies in a gorgeous Dutch farmhouse, you will find the therapeutic retreat you need here. The team has over 30 years of experience and an authentic Peruvian shaman to guide your traditional plant medicine ceremony.
3-Day Retreat: €1,050
4-Day Retreat: €1,250
5-Day Retreat: €1,450
With Om Mij, you get full support and loving guidance from a trained team of experts. This makes it perfect for those working through trauma and seeking a deeply spiritual experience. Retreats in Holland, Spain and Portugal. Established reputation.
Innerlijke Reis wants to help connect you with your inner wisdom and find enlightenment through a deeply moving ayahuasca ceremony. With a team of guides who offer extra skills like a chakra foot massage, breath support or tuning fork healing, plus a network of doctors, psychologists and coaches, you know you’re in great hands.
Ayahuasca Retreat Centers in Spain
Avalon is a magical place in a 6.5 hectares property of elegant gardens surrounded by water in the countryside near Barcelona, Spain. This holistic centre is designed for self-discovery and deep healing journeys. The retreat combines the ancestral wisdom of sacred medicines such as Ayahuasca, Bufo Alvarius, and Kambó with a strong integration program devised by a trained psychologist and a team of 25 people to ensure you are safely cared for during your experience. Avalon offers 4 and 6-day programs for increased flexibility. The experience encompasses more than Ayahuasca ceremonies as they offer holotropic breathwork, silent ecstatic dance, yoga, energy therapies, healing massage, hypnotherapy, and food awareness workshops. The shamans who share medicine in Avalon are highly experienced. They are part of or have been trained by ancestral traditions from Colombia (Muisca and Cofán tradition), Peru (Shipibo tradition) or Brazil (Yawanawá tradition).
Preparation and integration are one of Avalon’s strengths. Before the retreat, they offer a one-on-one preparation video call and preparation and integration guideline documents. You have one individual guidance session and four integration workshops during the retreat. The workshops combine diverse and creative methods, such as sharing circles, writing, and art therapy. After the retreat, there are two online integration circles to complete the experience.
There is a medical advisor, and their ceremonies are held safely. Avalon’s meals are prepared freshly by our experienced chef in an Ayahuasca-friendly manner. Transportation to and from Barcelona airport is arranged, and ceremonies are accompanied by medicine music by 6-9 experienced sacred space guardians and musicians.
An easy hop by plane from the UK, this ayahuasca retreat is perfect for those seeking gentle healing in safe and loving surroundings. Conducted one on one and in microdoses, this therapist-led session is sure to help you break through limitations and trauma and find your true path.
Ayahuasca Spirit Center
Ayahuasca Spirit Center is a well-known and reputable retreat centre in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon jungle. This centre is dedicated to providing a safe and transformative experience for individuals seeking spiritual growth and personal healing through ayahuasca. However, they often have European Ayahuasca retreats, so check out their website for upcoming retreats.
The Ayahuasca Spirit Center is run by an experienced team of shamans, facilitators, and staff committed to ensuring guests receive the highest care and support during their stay. The centre offers various ayahuasca retreats designed for beginners and more intensive and immersive for experienced individuals. It has a very positive review from Rob; see below:
Pachamama Shamanic Healing
A beautiful retreat centre in Mallorca, led by a friendly local Mallorcan shaman and his shaman wife from Bolivia. Well organised with good food, and there are integration workshops, yoga, and other activities. There is also the opportunity to try Kambo and bufo(DMT-MEO) for an additional cost whilst at the retreat. The only criticism is that there are too many people (40+ retreatants) for the space size. You often feel bunched together without much personal space, which keeps prices low compared to other ayahuasca retreats.
If you’re looking for a natural, intimate experience, Amoraleza provides the perfect opportunity. Running retreats between April and September, you can choose between shorter 3-day yurt experiences or large geo-dome sessions.
Ayahuasca Retreats in the Canary Islands
Below is a list of retreats that offer plant medicine retreats in the Canary Islands:
Sub Concious Retreats
Union in Arutam
Ayahuasca Retreats in Portugal
Sinchi Runa Retreat
Tucked in the gorgeous forests of Coimbra, Portugal, this ayahuasca retreat in Europe will provide a profoundly authentic experience beyond many others on this list. They include purge ceremonies, integration exercises, therapeutic activities, and the ayahuasca ceremony. They have a signature 23-day Ayahuasca retreat. The retreat groups are always kept small, with a maximum of 14 participants, to allow for authentic shamanic work and to provide individual attention to each participant.
This retreat centre in Portugal aims to establish a haven for individuals seeking personal growth, healing, and recovery through the use of San Pedro, Ayahusca’s cousin, a more gentle experience and does not offer ayahuasca. The retreat location is stunning, with hospitable, loving, and helpful hosts. The serene environment, surrounded by lush trees and greenery and overlooking the Douro Valley and river, coupled with the soothing sound of Isher’s flute playing, creates an idyllic atmosphere that is incredibly peaceful. This location is perfect for those seeking self-reflection, personal growth, relaxation, and transformation. Nancy and Isher can provide guidance and support, ensuring guests feel at ease with themselves and their journey.
Behold Retreats organizes retreats in various locations, including Portugal, Mexico, and Costa Rica, that utilize the plant medicines Ayahuasca, Bufo, and Psilocybin.
Vine of the Soul
Situated within the beautiful vistas of Portugal, Vine of the Soul Retreats serve as a sanctuary for personal healing and self-discovery. These retreats provide a safe and supportive environment, offering participants diverse tools to facilitate their journey towards deep empowerment. Their approach is unique across Europe, from psychedelic-assisted therapy with magic mushrooms to yoga, meditation, hypnosis, energy healing, art therapy, and plant medicine. The facilitators at Vine of the Soul have experienced these transformative tools in their healing journeys, and their profound knowledge ensures a comfortable and meaningful transformation for participants.
While many Ayahuasca retreats are available, Vine of the Soul understands that the true journey begins once the retreat concludes. It’s the integration of teachings from these spiritual journeys into everyday life that matters most. That’s why a significant part of their offering focuses on post-retreat integration, guiding participants in grounding their experiences for long-term benefits.
Vine of the Soul also prioritises personalising the healing journey for every participant. They work closely with individuals to determine whether Ayahuasca, Magic Mushrooms (psilocybin), or San Pedro would suit them most. Combining these sacred tools is possible, always with participant safety at the forefront. Whether the choice is Magic Mushrooms, Ayahuasca, or San Pedro, Vine of the Soul Retreats ensures a secure and supportive environment for personal exploration and growth.
Ayahuasca Retreats Ireland
Ayahuasca and ayahuasca ceremonies are currently illegal in Ireland. However, it is more of a grey area than in the UK, and it seems to be tolerated by the authorities. The list below is the organisations we are aware of operating in Ireland.
Pachamama Shamanic Healing Ireland
Ayahuasca English, Inner Mastery, and European School of Ayahuasca (this organisation has very mixed reviews)
Ayahuasca Retreats in the UK
Ayahuasca and ayahuasca ceremonies are currently illegal in the UK. This is because the plant contains DMT which is considered a Class A Drug and illegal to distribute or process. Ayahuasca Retreats are happening in the UK. However, it is an underground scene, and if you’re interested in attending an ayahuasca retreat or ceremony in the UK, check out our article here.
Ayahuasca Retreats – Other
Ayahuasca Retreats on Review My Retreat
Look at the Ayahuasca reviews from the listings on our website