Spiritual Tourism Explodes In The Amazon As Ayahuasca Goes Mainstream
New retreat center, Ayahuasca Odyssey, opens doors for Westerners seeking ancient cure
April 10, 2011 (Newswire.com) - The plant medicine known as ayahuasca has been used for thousands of years by indigenous peoples in the Amazon for healing, spiritual development and divination purposes. Only recently 'discovered' by popular culture in Europe and North America, its mysterious healing and visionary properties have led to a new trend of spiritual tourism in jungle destinations such as Iquitos, Peru.
Iquitos is home to several ayahuasca retreat centers where Westerners can come to experience culturally authentic ayahuasca ceremonies. Ayahuasca Odyssey is a new company offering safe and affordable retreats in the jungle led by traditional Peruvian shamans.
Co-Founder Andy Metcalfe: "There's several ayahuasca retreat organisations operating in Iquitos, but many are charging an absolute fortune for people to take part. When you add on the cost of flying here, you find that many retreats are prohibitively expensive for most people. The effects of ayahuasca can be so profoundly life altering for most people, that it would be a shame for them to miss out, just because they can't afford it."
The last ten years have seen a steady increase in ayahuasca tourism. Curious westerners arrive in Iquitos every day, specifically to seek out the mind-altering plant medicine, and many claim to have had life-changing experiences with it.
Ayahuasca itself is a hallucinogenic brew made from a combination or two plants, a vine and the leaves of a shrub that are both common in the upper Amazon. Within an hour of drinking the foul tasting brew, people report having incredible visions, feelings and sensations that can induce profound personal insights and even lead to physical healing of all manner of diseases.
In a recent ayahuasca-themed documentary, "Vine of the Soul", expert Dennis McKenna said "Most religions make a great deal about how you must have faith. You must believe in God, you must believe in what we tell you even though there's no evidence to support it, no evidence for what we're telling you, but you must have faith! What's interesting about Ayahuasca is you don't need to have faith. It's the perfect tool for skeptics. Don't believe me. Don't believe what anyone tells you. Take it! Have the experience, evaluate it for yourself. Make of it what you will..."
Ayahuasca Odyssey is based in Iquitos, Peru, and is now organizing week-long ayahausca retreats. The price is $650 and includes all meals and lodging. Please visit the website for more information.