Sara & Neils – my friends
It was the first time leaving my country & embarking on an exciting journey. Arriving in Cusco & meeting you two was the most excellent. You two made me feel very comfortable in your presence. I’m so glad I was able to hang out with you two & the members of the retreat. A spiritual journey I will remember forever. Thank you so much for creating such a wonderful experience. & to all who are debating if you should attend, you’ll be in great hands!!! Las Chullpas is beautiful environment, cared for by people who have the passion for it.
Thanks again, hope to visit you all in the future.
Dearest Sarah and Neils,
There are things in our lives that are so beneficial and magic that we would love to have them again and again or for ever, the experience I’ve had in your wonderful and blissful retreat has no words to describe the magnificence, warmth, inspirational and loving energetic power to last me for rest of my life, though I am very sure this will not be the end of my visits. I am collecting information from people I know that are in need of this type of experience to have a happy and healthy life, I will be a promoter of your “heavenly” retreat and hopefully I will have the chance to be there again, I also have the intention of collecting future visitors that will medicinally benefit from the humble and most amassing and powerful loving “Sharman” Gumersindo.
Thank you very much for the chance of meeting you in your paradise, needles to say that the affection, love, care and warmth given to us by Nancy and the caring members of her team, are blissfully enchanting and rear to encounter.
Much love to you all and thank you for the unforgettable time in your “heaven”.
I just would like thank you for the excellent experience I had in Urubamba retreat. It was life changing event for me and words cannot explain how I feel and how I am grateful to you, Sarah, Bernard, Nancy and Shaman Gumercindo. The
Environment was very safe and accommodating for the experience. I have new lifelong friends which I was not expecting. And I look forward to coming back with my wife.
All in all, Neil and Sarah’s spirit journey was one of the best experiences I’ve had on one of these retreats. I would do it again if I had the chance. If you’re reading this and considering a spiritplant adventure, by all means, I encourage you to go.I gained an incredible amount from my fellow travelers. Others in the group became close friends. The shared, intense experiences left a lasting impression. It was especially meaningful to gather around a bonfire at night, discussing whatever came to mind and getting to know each other at a deeper level than we’re able to in everyday life—the trappings of technology mixed in to distract us from what’s really important: human connection.
For the past decade I have wandered; jungles, mountains, desserts and oceans, the road has become my home. My intentions are to seek growth, absorbing cultures, adventure, discovery and love through slow travel. To inspire and be inspired.
Recently The universe guided me into the warm hands of Neil’s and Sarah’s retreat “spirit plant journeys”. A retreat that manifested twelve strangers into family in one of the most majestic Settings on earth. It was perched on the summit of an adjacent mountain overlooking this sacred valley I finally understood why we were all here. Only fools would call this coincidence, Each of us, on an individual journey of self discovery but together we had grown as one.
This was not my first retreat and definitely will not be my last. Working with the plant spirits, powerful shamans, beautiful facilitators and wonderful new friends, this retreat gifted me with far more then what I came seeking. I leave now, in beautiful space ready to share this energy with the world. I will hold space, honouring every single brother and sister that joined me on our journey.
I can only praise “spirit plant journeys” for every single day was perfect.
In the weeks to come I will upload a few personal stories of my ceremonies, the reflections made in those moments of self discovery. You can find them at – elixirofthemad.com
I do hope you share them with me and you too, if you haven’t already, follow your intuition and take this journey into the divine. Your spirit is powerful beyond belief.
Love and light,
Dear Sarah, Dear Neils,
I want to thank you for the great time that we had in Las Chullpas. The people I met and shared this wonderful experience with are just amazing. The venue, the food and your care were the right environment to let it happen. The ceremonies with Bernard and Gumercindo were truly groundbreaking for me and what I was presented with is far beyond what I was hoping for. I could gain new insights and perspectives to my life, I feel grounded and energized. The icaros are with me and are singing inside. Even though the whole thing is just about to settle in, I already know that this was the most profound and real experience of my life. You and the group provided a wonderful setting for meeting these plant teachers for the first time and it will not be last time. Looking forward to meeting you again, keep up the good work! And please recommend to the upcoming visitors to climb the mountain behind Las Chullpas. It is an incredible asset to the retreat. Julieta knows the way…
I am enormously grateful for the profound, life-changing experience that you provided on our Spirit Plant Journey in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
The venue was a unique slice of Peruvian artistic paradise. The meals were delicious. The organic gardens glorious. The retreat pets became our guardian animal spirits. But most of all it was the beautiful care that Neils and Sarah took of my fragile heart and the astounding spiritual and medicinal powers of our Amazonian Sharman Guermacindo that made my retreat so divine.
Thank you my friends
Here is a little story about my Spirit Plant Journey. It’s about faith and two worlds.
One world I discovered here; the mysterious world of Peru’s ancient culture and spiritual reverence. The other, the one I came from, is the increasingly bizarre world of a western economic system that has very little reverence for anything else. As to faith, the first requires faith in traditional Amazonian plant medicine, a practice that is mostly rejected out of hand by the medical establishment, and the other for faith in a never ending parade of officially credentialed “experts” who continuously contradict each other and then insist that only what they say can be trusted.
So… who would you trust with your life?
I was recently diagnosed with ALS, a disease which has a rather bleak prognosis and for which, according to western medicine, there is no treatment, much less cure. So I really had nothing to lose by putting my faith in Amazonian plant medicine. But, as it turned out, my faith, plus the faith of my darling wife and the handful of other fellow travellers who also came and shared in the experience, was rewarded in the most profound and enlightening way. I felt it then and I am still feeling it now. To follow that up I will also soon be undertaking a course of our ayahuasca shaman Gumersindu’s Amazonian plant remedy back home that he has prepared especially for me and after which he said I would be “fine” (translation from the Spanish). I can’t wait and I am, of course, greatly looking forward to reporting on my progress.
The tireless work and warmth of our Spirit Plant Journeys hosts, Neils and Sarah, as well as Gumersindu’s ancient plant wisdom, provided a welcoming, loving and supportive, but most importantly, life-changing experience. I found answers during my stay at Las Chullpas to questions about these two worlds that confirmed why my faith in the world I come from was, not surprisingly, so challenged now.
I also want to thank Nancy and her wonderful Las Chullpas staff for providing such a magical location and making our stay so comfortable.
If there’s only one thing I could communicate about Spirit Plant Journeys it is that I would urge anyone who has profound questions about life or problems that seem to have no solutions to try it too – and the sooner the better. There is another world that’s right here, right now, and I believe it could cure much, much more than just my illness.
The Spiritplant Journeys organization facilitated the most personally expansive, eye opening and liberating experiences of my life. From hospitality and accommodation to understanding and gentle guidance through what memorable adventure followed, the facility and its loving caretakers weaved a beautiful tapestry for me to witness upon my own becoming.
I was personally certain, once laying eyes on pictures of the two guides’ warming smiles and confident, knowledgeable energies, Neils and Sarah, that I wanted to behold such an awakening in their company. Literally one of the best decisions of my life. The Shaman they invited to spear-head our ceremonies are the most powerful and comforting beings I have yet to encounter a parallel to.
The food provided (according to the supplemental diet) is gourmet and quite incongruent to anything my imagination “cooked up” for an experience as such, complimented by always stocking fresh native fruit in a nearby bowl just at arm’s reach. The cottage environment I stayed in is star quality and slightly exotic over its rustic foundation. The grounds are gorgeous to walk through and lounge about in, be it a nearby hammock, stone bench or plush turf grass which beds the entire area. Everything was adeptly organized, from train rides and bus passes to exciting hikes around the Incan plain’s ancient ruins and ever-pleasant bartering in adjacent town’s markets.
I am forever thankful of my experience held and of those wonderful faces who walked with me along the way.
Bryon Stolle II
I have just returned from quite the epic adventure with Neils and Sara from Spiritplant Journeys. Landing in Peru I was unsure what to expect; but was blown away from the start.
Spiritplant Journeys facilitates an itinerary packed with exploration of the self and the environment around you. We were treated to treks through the wonders of Peru, amazing food and accommodations, and oh yes, the magic of the medicine.
Ayahuasca is in itself an observation of the unseen. The real treat, however, is its coupling with the San Pedro cactus, whose legend began in the same Sacred Valley in which you will be staying. The combination of feminine and masculine plants enables you to have a complex and complete exploration of your relationship with existence. This coupling is incredibly important and is what really separates Spiritplant Journeys from the rest!
We love Neils and Sara for the absolute care they took of us, and their unwavering love.
Just go-you will never regret it!
I found the group, the facilitators Sarah and Neils and the whole experience incredibly beneficial.
The work of Gumercindo and Bernhard and the spiritual journey that they guide you through was amazing. The help of Neils and Sarah through my journey here in Peru has helped me greatly. Without I would be a lost soul in Peru!
I want to highly recommend this retreat to all of my friends or to anybody who knows of me in Australia, Slovakia or within the glass art world.
I loved the experience so much that I have decided to participate in a second retreat! Two in a row!
I found the group, the facilitators Sarah and Neils and the whole experience incredibly beneficial.
The work of Gumercindo and Bernhard and the spiritual journey that they guide you through was amazing. The help of Neils and Sarah through my journey here in Peru has helped me greatly. Without I would be a lost soul in Peru!
I want to highly recommend this retreat to all of my friends or to anybody who knows of me in Australia, Slovakia or within the glass art world.
I loved the experience so much that I have decided to participate in a second retreat! Two in a row!
Articulating powerful psychedelic experiences is a bit like teaching math to a newborn baby – even our most precise language falls miserably short of describing such profoundness. That said, making the decision to attend Neils’ and Sarah’s retreat was the single best thing I’ve ever done for myself. The specter of depression had loomed over me since I was a boy of 8, nearly taking my life numerous times. I was close to resigning myself to a life of spiritual and psychological lack, managing as best I could with pharmaceutical drugs and therapy. The ceremonies held in Peru have totally healed me – the specter is gone, and Ayahuasca is its slayer. I had the most intense, most joyous, and most profound experience I can possibly imagine – like 15 years of psychotherapy wrapped into just a few days. I am healed and whole again, with a revitalized love of all things. Thank you Neils and Sarah, for the opportunity to be reborn, like a phoenix rising from
its own ashes. The world is bright and beautiful once again!
I went to this retreat a nervous wreck. I had anxiety daily. I was stressed out from work, alienated from family and friends, and felt completely lost. Its been a little over two months and these days I experience very minimal stress, no anxiety, and I am reconnecting with people again. I feel for the first time in a long time like I have a direction and meaning in life. I have Ayahuasca, San Pedro and Spirit Plant Journeys to thank for this.
The medicine was great. Some days, most days, were pretty rough for me. I was shown a lot about myself that was hard to accept but I was also shown a way through it. I am so thankful for the guidance of Bernhard who spent time with me talking me through the pain I was releasing. He always knew the right things to say and shared many helpful insights.
The Shaman Gumercindo held powerful ceremonies and I felt safe in his care. During one ceremony I felt the medicine really strongly and didn’t feel I could cope. I am not sure what he did, I could hear him singing over me, and I could feel him holding my head. I just followed the sound of his voice and found myself back in the room. Each ceremony with Aya was powerfully healing and insightful.
Neils and Sarah were wonderful guides and took us on day trips around Peru.
I went to the retreat for healing & inner exploration and also experienced the leisure of travel & exploration of ancient ruins. It was quite symbolic . The facility was a hidden and private gem with the cutest adobes, & plenty of pets to hang out with! The whole experience was life changing.
Quiero expresar mis más profundos agradecimientos a Neils Y Sarah por ser parte de una vivencia única, quiero agradecer por toda la buena energía que tuve en el Sagrado Valle.
Es difícil expresar la energía pura y limpia que me transmitieron durante toda mi estadía, es difícil sentirme más vivo que el presente del ahora.
Este no fue un viaje más como cualquier otro, fue un viaje que me gustaría repetir una y otra vez y millones de veces más, no importa si sea un viaje difícil a la larga es un viaje sagrado que me llevo a lo más profundo de mí.
La atención que recibí fue única, me sentí como si estuviera junto a mis amigos más cercanos, pude aprecia que el mundo es brillante y hermoso. Estar en el medio del Perú y sentirme querido no es una sensación que se de tan fácil en cualquier parte del mundo, en Perú no conocía a nadie no conocía del idioma y de la cultura que existe pero gracias a ustedes me sentí genial y vivo!!!!
I want express my deep tanks fully to Neils and Sarah for to be part of this unique experience; I want to say thanks for all the good energy that I receive in Sacred Valley ….
It’s hard express all the pure and clear energy that they transmit during all my days of trip, is hard to feel with more energy that I feel right now in this present moment. This travel was not a trip like others, it is a travel that I would like to do again and again and millions times again, doesn’t matter if is a hard travel, it is a sacred travel in which I went to the deepest parts of my being.
The attention that I received was amazing, I felt like I was with my close friends, I can appreciate that the world is bright and beautiful. To be in the middle of Peru and feel love it’s not a sensation what you can fell over seas so easy.
At the beginning it was hard and confuse I felt a little bit sick and I had fear for the unknown bet the good company that I had surroundings was perfect for takeout all my fears.
Thanks again for this amazing experience.
Simply amazing! I could write a long review, but really, I would just suggest you have the experience yourself. I cannot garuntee that the whole time will be enjoyable….mine was not. But I grew from it. No matter what you have read, you do not know what Ayahuasca is.
With spirit plant journeys, you are in good hands. Neils and Sarah are professional and experienced in helping those through tough spots. Gume and Bernard hold the space well and help to facilitate the plant medicines to their fullest effects.
Words can hardly begin to express the profound gratitude and love you will feel at Spirit Plant Journeys. Neils and Sarah have built something incredibly special because they are extraordinary people full of wisdom, talent, humor, and gentleness. If you are curious about the work but also a bit frightened, this is the place where you can leave those worries behind and trust that you are in very capable hands. Every detail is attended for you so you have a safe and blessed journey. (Our luggage was lost from the outset of our journey. Neils made sure that we got the essentials that we needed and also saw to it that the luggage was retrieved and delivered safely.)
The retreat is located at Las Chullpas Eco-lodge– a place of serene beauty in the Sacred Valley. The Earth there is maternal and healing. She becomes a great part of your journey with the plant medicines. As others have said, the outing to the ruins are fantastic and balance the work of the medicine. Peru is a place of great beauty, history, and mythic imagination. The plant medicines weave the wisdom they bring from the earth. It is profoundly healing to reconnect in such right relationship and to feel that connection so deeply rooted in your own body.
For me, the lessons of the San Pedro heart medicine were to love myself and to release the traumas I carried with me. One of the greatest teaching came when I expressed worry for my teenage children who have both struggled with anxiety and depression for many years–I was told that all I had to do to heal them was to heal myself. This permission for self care and deepened experience of self love has enriched my relationship with them and has had a healing effect for us all. San Pedro powerfully reaches into one’s pain, mulches it, and turns it into pure joy. it is truly the heart medicine. Bernhard is magic–intuitive, nurturing, and honest. He skillfully helps you work through your process and set the intention for the work with Mother Aya.
The four nights of Aya were the most powerful thing I have ever experienced. The wisdom to build massage and yoga into those days helped to sustain the body in practice for the evening. While it is hard to explain the power of the medicine, I can tell you that one thing I came to ceremony with was the plague of thoughts–the scorpions of the mind–which come with the troubles and stresses of divorce, single parenting and the freelancing life of a working artist. These thoughts have many times in my life riddled me with stress and fear. By the end of the retreat, the ability to quite the mind and connect with the universal force of love that is everywhere became effortless. Such freedom is palpable. While the evenings were not always blissful and some of them very difficult, Aya was in a constant process of attending and healing.
What was particularly powerful was the soulful connection we felt with the entire group, with each individual’s intention and in their blessings by Gume. To meditate so deeply with a group you love, to connect at the meta level and pray together, to share consciousness in that way was truly the most loving experience. Our group will always be our tribe. My healing was possible because I was in their company, in their hearts, and they in mine. Bless all of you for your courage to walk so softly but deeply in the world.
Gume is a force. The medicine works through your body by the way he sings the icaros. His voice is beautiful and resonate. He is a true servant to the medicine and has no ego. At the beginning of the trip, I arrived with a very bad pinched nerve–or pain in the neck (metaphor in practice) which had been so painful that even sleeping was difficult. This was present for a year. After the first two ceremonies, it disappeared. Gume also performed a special healing for me during one of the ceremonies which entailed sudden lower back pain. He completely drew this out of me. It was quite extraordinary.I wouldn’t dream of wanting to work with anyone else and look forward to returning soon. But perhaps one of the loveliest parts of the ceremony was they way Gume, Sarah, and Neils sang at the end. The songs were sighs of the heart that spoke so powerfully, loved so deeply, like lullabies did as a child. Those songs frequently play in my mind.
The outcomes after a month home have been subtle yet powerful: my yoga pratice has strengthened and I find it very easy to return to that deep and healing meditative space. Aya told me the first night that I was her daughter and I find it easy to connect to the wisdom of the earth whenever I need, am able to tap into the profound universal love with a heart full of gratitude. My ability to handle stress is far easier. My gentleness with my self is far greater. I was very blessed to attend this retreat with my love and partner, and I highly recommend this for couples. it is a beautiful reset for a relationship: one in which the sovereignty of the beloved is celebrated and granted. We look forward to returning and bringing our friends and family.
There is a quote that reminds me of this experience that I would like to share for it sums up the good work that all of the practitioners at Spirit Plant Journeys accomplish:
Integrity in love
Is the only true guide
to the wisdom that leads
Spirit Plant Journeys was not just a retreat, it was a homecoming. Go home.
My ayahuasca experience with Spirit Plant was the real deal. Apparently there’s a lot of fakers out there just trying to capitalize on the “ayahuasca tourism” trend without actually putting any real care into the process. Sarah and Neils were terrific, and I can’t recommend them highly enough. As a Marine Corps combat veteran, I have encouraged all my friends who served in Afghanistan with me to pursue the healing provided by this plant medicine. I will be returning to Peru as soon as possible to continue my work there as well.
It’s hard to find the words to describe my Spirit Plant Journeys experience this just past July mucho gracias to the unforgettable Sarah & Neils. In any case, I’ll breathe, go deep; here’s my best shot…
Sarah and Neils provided a sanctuary at the foothills of the mountains that became, not only my home for 12 amazing days, but the place in which I re-discovered the true nature of the world, my place within it, and ultimately experienced my first ancient medicine healing which has changed my life, forever.
I can honestly say that without the nurturing, support and incredibly considered programme that Sarah and Neils provide, my experience wouldn’t have been as rich nor profound.
Sarah is a beauty-plus-some with a knowledge of the medicines surpassing her years. She is accepting, kind, open-hearted, broad-minded and loaded with wisdom – everything you’d ever want from a facilitator or mentor throughout the daunting plant medicine experience!
Neils, likewise, is the sweetest, gentlest and most intelligible man. He was always there to answer every one of our questions or requests no matter how small, big, outrageous – and regardless of the time of night! [Matt… I’m thinking of you ;)]
The potency of the combined talents of these two really shone through in the ceremonies. Sarah & Neils have definitely found their vocation! Plus, as both talented musicians, we were entertained, lullabied and serenaded at the closing of each of our ceremonies – a magical addition to the retreat and definite point of difference you’d find hard pressed to experience anywhere else.
Our medicine men, Gume and Bernard, are something else. Gume is a machine of a man – I won’t wax on about his credentials as you can read these at Spirt Plant’s website. However, throughout the course of the ceremonies I began to understand the immense power of this man and his ability to hold the ceremonial space.
Bernard – our San Pedro healer – will forever hold a special place in my heart. He assisted me with digging up and resolving extremely ancient pain – exactly why I came to the retreat in the first place. Bernard is extremely gifted at his craft and is kind, humble and generally a good time. (P.S. wait till you try his soup! Delicious!)
In short, I cannot bang on enough about Spirit Plant Journey’s. If you are thinking of going, just go. Don’t hesitate. Don’t wait. Don’t do it later. Do it now. This will change your life.
First review I’ve ever written for anything. Neil’s and Sarah sorry it’s taken me so long. Just been so busy with life since I got home. Aya gave me new life.
It’s amazing how many things have changed for the better.
What spirit plant journeys provides is almost indescribable
The love and the environment is perfect for such an experience.
The food is amazing. The pets at the retreat have amazing energy.
The retreat is beautiful. Gume and Bernard the shamans are amazing.
Neils and Sarah are two of the coolest people I ever met.
I’m just going to throw some stuff out there of what I got from the retreat
Ayahuasca freed me from so many things that was holding me back and torturing me at night I can sleep without drugs now easily first time in 7 years
San Pedro showed me things that changed the way I view a lot of things I am much more understanding
I connect better with my children especially my autistic son
I connect better with my family
I got engaged, I enrolled in college
Life doesn’t feel such a dead end anymore
Spirit plant journeys is the greatest gift you can give to yourself
Thank you sarah, Neils, gume, Bernard, ayahuasca, and San Pedro
If you are reading this, I assume that you have read up on ayahuasca and San Pedro, and that you have already heard that plant medicine, though challenging, is tremendously healing both physically and emotionally, and ultimately life changing. And maybe, you are looking for a safe and comfortable place to experience this.
Spirit Plant Journeys is absolutely the place. It is hard to even put into words how exceptional the staff are. Neils and Sarah (facilitators), Gume and Bernard (medicine men) not only bring decades of experience with plant medicine, they are all super awesome people that I would love to have as my friends and neighbors. I was simply blown away at that quality of the staff and the experience. I have previous experience with ayahuasca and can attest that that Spirit Plant Journeys is top shelf in every way.
The facilities were also wonderful. Hot showers and private toilets in Peru! I did not expect such luxury, but Las Chullpas Eco Lodge has all that and more: great food, friendly animals, beautiful grounds, local ancient ruins, etc. etc..
I also appreciate how Spirit Plant Journeys also incorporates San Pedro into their retreat. I have found, as others have, that ayahuasca and San Pedro are very complimentary.
I trust these folks at Spirit Pant Journeys with my whole heart. No ego or touristy crap here. This is the real deal.
I would highly recommend starting or continuing your journey with Ayahuasca or San Pedro at Spiritplant Journeys. Sarah, Neils, Bernard, and Gumere are amazing people with big hearts. One thing about embarking on a journey like this is that you will most likely encounter some very difficult moments, maybe even horrifying as your mind reveals itself to you. To be nurtured and cared for with the incredible amount of love and compassion that they have to offer is a blessing that will be grateful to have received when you are in a dark moment. I really could not have done the amazing work I did without their help. They are beautiful people, and they made all the difference in the world in my journey – so much so, that I will be returning again next year. This is the place for me. You couldn’t ask for better facilitators or shaman!
Guys! It took me 3 months to write this review, sorry for that 😀
But no really, it feels that my life has really begun after working with Spirit Plant Journeys. I see my life in a new light. I am flowing. I have learned to surrender, to let go. I have learned to love my self, to share it with others and feel blessed from the reflections.
I have become my true self.
Sarah and Neils are an amazing people, who are willing to give and make you feel at the most comfort. It won’t be longer than 3 months to go back and experience this profound cleansing again, to go deeper.
From all of my heart, thank you for this transformation.
Although this is the only Ayhuasca retreat I have ever experienced, I cannot imagine another one being much better. The plant medicine ceremonies were amazing. The tours of ancient ruins filled the remaining downtime very well creating a very free, relaxing atmosphere, but never with a feeling of boredom. The retreat had 4 Ayhuasca ceremonies “sandwiched” in between 2 San Pedro ceremonies (with necessary breaks for recovery in between).
I was originally hesitant about taking the San Pedro medicine because I had never heard of it; after all, Ayhuasca was the reason I was seeking this type of experience in the first place. Now I am so glad I was able to receive the San Pedro experience as it is much gentler providing a perfect introduction and absolutely beautiful exit from the retreat experience. The San Pedro shaman speaks English, and provides one-on-one counseling throughout the ceremony; helping direct your focus towards your intentions and allowing you to achieve what you came for. San Pedro is Ayhuasca’s perfect companion.
Still, the Ayhuasca experience is still the “main event” of the retreat and it does not disappoint! The Shaman, Gumercindo, has a caring heart and keeps you safe throughout the ceremonies, allowing you to open up fully to the medicine to get the greatest benefit. I have read that Shamans sometimes sing well, and sometimes not, during their icaros. Well, this is not a worry because he has a beautiful voice. His songs still remain in my mind as I try to recapture moments I experienced while in-ceremony.
Neils and Sarah are beautiful people. They are the ideal example of those you hope to have at a retreat like this. Trust is very important with these experiences. They understand this and set the example for the entire retreat. It is about love of each other, respecting the experiences of others, and ultimately about the love of one’s self. They have created a retreat which allows the personal freedom to discover a new perspective on life without limitations, and they demonstrate this themselves by living it. They are young, energetic, and fun to be around, but they never lose their focus on the overall goal, which is to provide us the best situation possible to achieve what we intended.
I believe everyone can benefit from this medicine. All it takes is the willingness to plan the trip, and then open up to the medicine to allow it to do its work. Although, I have never been to another retreat, I believe this is the one that does it right. I achieved what I intended and I have absolutely no regrets. Everything was beautiful. It was perfect!
I can’t begin to explain how amazing the experience was with Spirit Plant Journeys. Everything was better than imagined, and Sara and Neils were the most caring and attentive hosts. The retreat center was beautiful, food was delicious, Shamans were so powerful and I was really able to connect with them- it was all perfect and I plan to head back one day. I am forever grateful for the life changing experience and for the connections I made! Thank you 🙂
I have just returned from a Spirit plant journey in Peru with Neils and Sarah… The result has been a total upgrade to my life! Set in a beautiful retreat atmosphere,sacred ceremonies, mini trekking in ruins and mountains, wholesome food, yoga and massage…Deep trans-formative healing happened… I was able to discover and resolve what memories and thought patterns have held me back from experiencing a true love and joy.. questions were answered and so much inspiration came for me to practice now in my so called real life! My heart and soul are eternally grateful to Neils, Sara and the wonderful Shamans for this medicine Journey. If you are truly ready to journey within, This is the Journey to take..********Thanks guys..*****
My name is Marlena,
I am a 57 year old mother of three boys, ages 18-35, who went through a traumatic separation after a thirty year marriage…Because it was a complete surprise to me, I was devastated and felt paralysed in my life… I needed to step out of my comfort zone and look for a spiritual experience that would land me back in the living. The retreat that Spiritplant Journeys offered accomplished all of that and started me on my way to a new beginning filled with love, acceptance and joy.
Thank you Neils, Sarah, Bernard, Gume, and Nancy.
Having just completed a retreat with Spirit Plant Journeys I am in the absolute inner glow of how profound it was. Everything about this retreat was impeccable. The commitment to the medicine was absolute & the shamans facilitating both medicines were awe inspiring. Neil’s & Sarah organised & attended to our every need & provided a space for such comfort that allowed our personal journeys to be so safe, held, supported, encouraged & deeply respected. I enjoyed the accommodation very much, the food, the fires,the love & sharing offered. The added dimension of local tours throughout the Sacred Valley was also wonderful & supported the inner work so much. I will be highly recommending this retreat across the world & truly wish Neil’s & Sarah so much awesome success as they help bring these precious medicines to people for such deep healing & transformation. Thank you both so very much xxxx
I had the most beautiful and profound experience during the 10 day course. Sarah and Neils are both beautiful people with big hearts and I will be forever grateful for their support during my time at Las Chullpas. If you have any anxieties about the whole ayahuasca experience your worries will quickly be removed as Sarah and Neils will make you feel at ease, as will the other people in the program. Everyone that I attended the course with were just beautiful human beings and I hope to remain in touch with them.
Everything about this course far exceeded my expectations. The setting at Las Chullpas is especially beautiful and it was so nice to have the gorgeous animals among us. The dogs are especially very friendly and loving creatures.
There are so many ayahuasca retreats out there now and I am so grateful to have found something that just completely exceeded any expectations that I came in with.
Bernhard and Gumercindo are both very experienced and powerful healers and I would just like to thank them both so much for their time, energy, and teachings. I have gained more than I had ever imagined!
Sarah and Neils, thank you so, so much for one of the most beautiful experiences of my life!
Lots of love.
Spirit Plant Journeys is the real deal.
Gume is an impeccable shaman. I have now worked with him during two retreats, and I still cannot believe his power. He works with love, clarity, and centeredness. He has brought me healing and insight that I would never have thought possible. His medicine is pure love. Drinking Ayahuasca with Gume has changed my life.
Bernhard blew me away with his insight and presence. His guidance during the San Pedro ceremonies, held at the beginning and end of the retreat, helped me enormously in focusing my intentions with Ayahuasca and in learning how to bring the lessons of the retreat back with me into my life. His knowledge and experience inspire enormous trust; he has made me want to continue working with San Pedro, which I knew nothing about before.
Sarah and Neils, the facilitators, create an open, no-bullshit environment that is quite simply ideal. They don’t impose sanctimonious nonsense on you, but they also respect the power and sacredness of the medicine. They do their important work with a exemplary lightness of touch and sense of fun.
Las Chullpas, the retreat center, is beautiful, comfortable, delightful. You eat well and enjoy stunning surroundings. Soon there will be retreats at Gume’s family’s property in the jungle, which is (truly) a paradise on earth, though spartan in comparison to Las Chullpas.
You cannot go wrong with Spirit Plant Journeys. This is the place to go.
I attended the retreat earlier this month (June) and words can not begin to express the gratitude and praise I have for everyone there.
The venue is beautiful and the accommodations are extremely comfortable. The meals are both healthy and delicious and you are never wanting for anything.
These are all great however it’s the intangibles that make this place great. Neils and Sarah are both amazing as facilitators. From the moment they pick you up you are immediately put at ease by their approachability and openness. They both worked tirelessly to make sure everyone was comfortable and getting everything they needed from the experience. You can see that they believe in and love what they are doing and it shows in everything they do and say.
Bernhard exudes a peaceful energy that is so refreshing to be around and he does extraordinary work with san pedro. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent talking with him. He is extremely insightful and truly a master of his craft. I will never forget our conversations or the work he did with me. It was truly eye opening and life changing.
The ayahuasca ceremonies were the most terrifying and most beautiful experiences of my life to date. There really aren’t words to describe the ayahuasca experience but what I can say is that Gume’s control over the space that we occupied was truly something to behold. I started the retreat with a certain amount of skepticism regarding the abilities of shamans and I am now one hundred percent a believer that the work he does is as real as anything I’ve ever known to be true. I’ve seen, felt, and experienced things in his presence that are life changing and way beyond my comprehension. His sincere attention and care are evident in every ceremony and interaction he has with the people he works with. While this is my only experience with plant medicines or a retreat like this, I can not imagine that it gets any better than what these people have created. They have all very obviously wholly and completely invested themselves in providing healing and comfort for everyone they welcome to their retreat.
I hope to return soon for more work with the medicine and to be in the company of such genuine people.
I wholeheartedly recommend spirit plant journeys to anyone interested in work with plant medicines. I promise you will not be disappointed.
I attended the Spirit Plant Journeys retreat in May, 2015. As a 46-year old woman who doesn’t speak Spanish, traveling alone and venturing into my first-ever experience with the plant medicines (and, for that matter, psychedelics), you can probably imagine I had some anxieties over whether I was making the right decision, choosing the best venue, and so on.
I am pleased to report that this was one of the best trips of my life and without a doubt, working with the plant medicines was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It really is a game changer, and I could not be happier that I chose Spirit Plant Journeys to do this with.
It’s going to be impossible to cover everything in this review, but I’ll attempt to highlight a few major points.
Originally, I had hoped to go into the Amazon, but the dates for that retreat were booked. I’m now relieved that I was directed to SPJ by Sara. Thank you Sara! It was ideal to not deal with the challenges of the jungle in addition to my first experience with the medicines. The Las Chullpas eco lodge in Urubamba is a quiet, beautiful, safe venue for the retreat (and no doubt less buggy) that includes comfortable rooms/beds, daily room service, running showers, electricity, a lovely dining room and staff that serves healthy meals, and plenty of space to wander around and reflect on the experience. I also loved the resident cat, dogs, and alpacas!
A quick word on logistics pre-trip: The system for collecting deposits may seem awkward to you as it did for me. I experienced much hassle with this, and advise that you go directly into a Western Union location to pay your deposit. Do not attempt to send money using the online systems, regardless of how “easy” they claim it is.
On arrival, it is okay to drink the Coca tea! I wasn’t sure and didn’t want to chance interfering with the medicines, so I turned down the kind offer from hotel staff only to find out later that the tea helps tremendously with altitude sickness. When offered to me on the day I arrived at my hotel in Cusco, I felt fine; however, shortly after getting to the room, it came over me like an avalanche. I’ve never actually been hit by an avalanche, so perhaps I’m exaggerating, but you get the point: it was pretty awful. I had planned to walk around and do some shopping after checking in, and instead spent the entire day in bed, miserable. Please don’t make the same mistake that I made. That tea is your friend.
On the first official day, everyone met at the Starbuck’s in Cusco, which faces the town square. Yes, it is located upstairs but is easily identifiable by the Starbucks Siren/logo that you are used to seeing.
In a nutshell, Neils and Sara put together a fantastic retreat. They are kind, generous individuals with beautiful spirits who went out of their way to make sure that everyone was comfortable and had everything they needed. I was continually impressed by how hard they worked to make it all happen. We had laundry service twice; our own yoga instructor; a generous, continuous supply of fresh fruit; and they even brought in a massage therapist!
I felt that our group of 12 was perfect–not too many–and ranged in age from mid-20s to mid-50s. I love them all. They seem like family to me now, and I look forward to seeing everyone again.
Some of the best shopping can be found in Pisac, so be sure to take advantage of that day if you’re interested in bringing back some good deals from the trip. Among other things, you can expect to find great prices on silver, crystals, scarves, and sweaters. The hike is also absolutely gorgeous!
One thing that initially attracted me to SPJ was the combination of the ayahuasca and san pedro ceremonies. My instincts were correct, as this turned out to be a perfect blend, with the san pedro ceremonies at the beginning and end of the retreat, and the ayahuasca ceremonies in the middle. I really enjoyed working with Bernhard and Gume, who are wise, genuine, wonderful teachers and shamans. I am deeply grateful to them both.
The Machu Picchu trip is a great way to end the retreat, and I highly recommend going if you can swing it. Aguas Calientes is a strange little village, but the Machu Picchu tour is very good and who knows when you’ll have another opportunity; it’s also a nice way, albeit bittersweet, to spend time a bit more time with your group.
It’s now been a month since the retreat, and the medicines have stayed with me and continue to teach and guide and heal. There have been ups and downs since returning to everyday life, and it can be tricky navigating old routines while integrating new insights from the medicines. But even the downs are good. They are a pre-sent moment to remind me there’s an opportunity to change my mind about something I previously decided was a down moment. That simple.
One of my favorite lines from the movie Avatar: “Everything is backwards now. Out there is the real world and in here is the dream.” That will only make sense if you’ve worked with Ayahuasca, I think.
Overall, I’m still in awe, and just overwhelmed with gratitude and love for this moment, and looking forward to every moment that is to come. The medicines show you very clearly just how magical life really is, and how we create it all.
From my spirit to yours, thank you Neils, Sara, Bernhard, Gume, and our amazing group for each perfect moment you shared with me.
This retreat exceeded all expectations profoundly. The food, the accommodation, and the services provided were fitting, and the facilitators were genuine and candid. The 8 other visitors I met there will never be forgotten, and I hope too see them again in time.
As for the Ayahuasca medicine, if magic truly exists in this world, then Ayahuasca comes the closest to it that I have ever encountered. I wish I had words that could convey the sense of wonder and awe I felt during the 4 ceremonies, especially the last one. I openly and sincerely looked through to the infinite possibilities I was shown, and gained real insight and inspiration to honestly try and better myself, to help to make me be the best person I can possibly be.
The Ayahuasca experience is very personal to each individual, in that it allows you to access your subconscious mind, from which you can learn many things. I know I have just merely scratched the surface of what I can learn in this realm, so I wish to continue to pursue this new direction in life I have discovered.
I want to thank Bernhardt for his wisdom and sharpness of thought and vision, Gumercindo for his captivating Icaros and powerful presence, Neils for his affable nature and good humor, and finally Sarah, for her charm and especially her lovely singing voice.
I have found innovation for the first time in my life. THANK YOU.
“Only to be filled again with morning”.
Going on this retreat was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I did a lot of research before even committing to an Ayahuasca experience, and I’m glad that I was finally able to live it out with this group. Neils and Sarah are beautiful souls who create a very relaxed atmosphere at the Las Chullpas Eco Lodge, located in the Sacred Valley in Urubamba. It’s a beautiful place with the friendliest dogs and alpacas you’ll ever meet. Nancy, the owner, provides delicious meals which are within the Ayahuasca diet, has a laundry service twice during the 11 day retreat, and even has Wi-Fi available near the office area in case you want to hop back onto the grid and check in with family or business. I got lucky with my fellow retreat goup. There was 10 of us total which I think is actually perfect. Each and every person was so genuine, down to earth and just plain cool. I have to give a nod to Neils and Sarah’s screening process in creating such a positive vibe throughout our group. By the end of the retreat we all felt like family, having learned so much about ourselves, each other, and the power and beauty of plant medicine. The retreat itself is structured quite nicely. it’s bookended with a couple of San Pedro cactus ceremonies led by Bernhard who has an uncanny way of saying the perfect thing that will guide you through your experience. Without him, the medicine can be very confusing and even overwhelming. Wachuma served as a good intro into plant medicine for me because it further focused my intention for the retreat and primed me for the more intense Ayahuasca ceremonies to follow. It’s pretty cool how the two medicines compliment each other in that way.
The Ayahuasca ceremonies were life changing for me. It’s such a beautiful experience. I’m very grateful to have done it with a quality shaman like Gumé. He’s amazing. Before our first ceremony he talked with all of us one by one (with a real time translation from Neils in case you don’t speak Spanish) about our intentions and how to best approach the ceremony. The way he controls the energy of the room is impressive. We all sit in a circle in the Maloca and he makes sure that the energy flows through each and every one of us, as we all heal as a group. I was tripping out when one of my fellow retreat members had the same intention as I did (finding life and career purpose) and we ended up having almost identical visions and lessons during the first ceremony from mother Aya. Towards the end of each ceremony, Gumé grabs the guitar and belts out an acoustic version of El Condor Pasa that just blows my mind every time. I was also pleasantly surprised to hear Sarah grab the guitar and sing a few songs with her beautiful soothing voice. It’s the best way to end a very intense and emotional Ayahuasca ceremony.
The off days during the retreat are filled with optional excursions to neighboring cities like Ollytaytambo and Pisac to check out the ruins and shop for souvenirs. It’s a great opportunity to buy crystals and stones if you’re into that. Finally, I highly recommend paying the extra cash and going to Aguas Calientes for the Macchu Picchu adventure. It’s a quaint town, and even the train ride there on the Peru Rail is beautiful. Also, once you get to Machu Picchu, it’s simply amazing! It was the perfect way to end a couple weeks of deep soul searching and emotional, spiritual, and physical healing. I can’t recommend this retreat enough. I’m already planning on attending their newly added jungle retreat which takes place at Gumé’s property in the Amazon!
This was a such a beautiful retreat. The accommodations made the experience very comfortable. The food was appropriate and delicious! Chirimoya!!!
Both the San Pedro Shaman and the Aya Shaman were extremely knowledgeable and guided me through the ceremonies. It was my first time working with both medicines, and I could not be more grateful for this experience. I came to the retreat hoping to receive guidance for my career and know my place in the universe. Upon leaving the retreat, my intentions were fulfilled and my life changed.
Both of the facilitators Neils and Sarah are beautiful people. They make sure you are comfortable. They are extremely personable and genuine people. Their music just pierces the soul. (Especially Sarah’s singing post-ceremony :))
I’d highly recommend this retreat to anyone. I’ve even convinced my parents to try out a ceremony in the next year!
Register now and you won’t regret it!
I had the great privilege of attending Spirit Plant Journeys’ 10 day San Pedro and Ayahuasca retreat at the Sacred Valley near the town of Urubamba on May 2015 and the experience had profoundly changed my life. As a complete novice with sacred plant medicines, I did extensive research in choosing the right retreat that would work for me. I am very glad that I chose Spirit Plant Journeys for the following reasons:
– The facilitators, Sarah and Neils did an outstanding job in organizing and running the retreat. Sarah and Neils worked incredibly hard to ensure that every participants’ needs were met. I felt safe and comfortable throughout the whole experience knowing that the group is under the care of such capable and responsible hands.
– Gumercindo, the shaman who conducted the four ayahuasca ceremonies is a powerful healer who has extensive experience and vast knowledge of plant medicines and their healing powers. He is a gentle soul who is quite friendly and approachable. While he speaks limited English, talking to him is never a problem as Sarah and Neils are excellent interpreters.
– Bernhard, the Huachumero was our guide for the two San Pedro ceremonies. His calm presence and deep knowledge of the healing powers of San Pedro helped me understand and challenge some of my long standing beliefs and behavior patterns that undermine and block my personal growth. Bernhard is one of those rare souls, wise beyond his years, who is genuinely passionate about helping others.
– Las Chullpas Eco Lodge is the incredible setting of the retreat. It is a secluded property at the foot of Pumahuanca mountain near the town of Urubamba. The lodge is home to 3 wonderful and very friendly dogs, 3 alpacas and a very cuddly cat. Nancy, the manager of the Lodge and her staff did an amazing job taking care of of all of us. The food was plentiful, healthy and nourishing. The rooms are comfortable, immaculately clean and come with a wood-burning fireplace.
– Finally, I chose Spirit Plant Journeys because it offered the unique experience of combining Ayahuasca and San Pedro as part of the healing experience. More than two weeks after I came back home from the retreat, I continue to experience the powerful and positive effects of the medicinal plants which I have grown to respect.
Thank you Neils, Sarah, Gume, Bernhard, Nancy and the wonderful staff at Las Chullpas Eco Lodge. My gratitude also goes to the
dear friends I met- my fellow retreat participants who shared this great experience with me. Till we meet again!
I had a truly wonderful expereince with Spirit Plant Journeys. The Venue is absolutely beautiful, the food is lovely, the medicine is life changing and the facilitators and healers were truly wonderful beyond words. I have never felt more love and authenticity from a group of poeple. The time I spent at this retreat was very tranformational, the medicine itself truly gives you what you need. It really helped me address issues that were deep in my subconscious and gave me direction on how to work through them. Although the work isn’t over after the ceremony. With the wisdom and insight you gain during the retreat you must be willing and able to apply these principles once you leave. I feel as though my heart has been opened and the journey has just begun. I feel so much love for everyone involved in this retreat, It felt like family and I will forever be grateful for what they have given me. Niels and Sarah are so down to earth and so sweet and I would really like to thank them for what they have done for my friends and myself. I am looking forward to reconnecting with everyone soon 🙂
Peace and Love
Words do not fairly describe our life changing experience with Spirit Plant Journeys, located in the Sacred Valley, at the beautiful eco lodge named Lus Chullpas. An amazing earthy atmosphere run by humble locals, with mountains to hike, ruins to explore, hammocks to relax in, pets to play with and fresh organic fruit to eat! Our rooms were very spacious and decorated beautifully with traditional Peruvian designs, as well as a personal fireplace, which kept us warm in the cold nights. It is home to a few animals including three adventurous dogs, a cat named Cappacino and some friendly lamas. The staff working at the lodge are very kind, they are always carrying a positive loving energy, that made us feel very welcome. During the stay I had gotten very ill, the owner of the lodge, Nancy, approached me and asked if she could brew a traditional tea medicine to help my body fight disease, I was so thankful to know she cared about my health, it shows how sincere and caring the people at the lodge are. We visited many ancient Inca ruins on our days off, which was a great inclusion on the retreat. Niels would always have historical stories to share with us along the way, he was like our personal tour guide!
My partner and I had the privilege to meet Bernhard, a Huachumero, and his beautiful family. He carries vast knowledge and understanding of the medicinal cactus, sharing its healing capabilities for the mind, body and soul. A warm hearted, true spirited soul who gave us great comfort, guidance and support during our experience with San Pedro. He would ensure that our needs were taken care of, our questions answered and that we knew how to benefit the most from the ceremonies. Genuinely kind, very approachable and easy to talk to, we couldn’t of asked for anyone better. Thank you kindly for all you did for us during the San Pedro ceremonies!
Our Shaman, Gumecindo, another amazing soul! A true hero, travelling far from within the Amazon Jungle to share his life changing healing abilities with us all. He is a very traditional Shaman, performing powerful ceremonies, like those he has done in the jungle with his family, learning from his father and grandfather over a long period of years. We both felt very safe and comfortable knowing Gume was our Shaman, it truly is his calling to be a healer and a very good one at that! We feel very honoured to have met Gume and have him as our Shaman, we thank you for all you have done Amigo.
From our experience we can say that ayahuasca is a life changing miracle plant from the heavens, and we will support the workings of Spirit Plant Journeys and all involved. If you want to make changes in your life that will give you happiness, love, peace and joy, than SPJ is the place to start, we highly recommend attending their ayahuasca retreat for spiritual growth and self-reward.
Thank you Niels, Sarah, Bernhard, Gumecindo and the staff at Lus Chullpas!
It’s been 2 months since I was in Peru and I’m still receiving the benefits after my retreat with Spirit Plant Journeys. I’ve never felt lighter and more whole in my entire life. Ayahuasca and San Pedro are great tools to explore your unconscious, but most importantly, you need good people around you to make sure you’re safe while you go traveling in your mind. I’m so grateful that I made it to Spirit Plant Journeys. The facilitators, Neils and Sara are beautiful people. They will become your friends and will take good care of you from the get go. Benhard and Gumercindo are great healers with no egos. Combined, they will take you far and help you see what you need to see. I’m writing this review for the people who are like me where I was once looking and searching for the right place, the right retreat, the right people who would provide the right environment to give me the right therapy. I highly recommend Spirit Plant Journeys.
A friend and I where interested in taking Ayahuasca and decided to take the trip to Peru and experience it there. Based on the reviews we read and the fact that we wanted to incorporate Machu Picchu into our trip we decided on Spirit Plant Journeys. Both of us are glad we did.
Neils and Sara have worked very hard to set up a place for people looking to heal and grow. From when you meet up with them in Cusco till when they drop you off back in Cusco eleven days later they are there to help guide you through the sacred valley and beyond.
Las Chullpas is the eco lodge they have chosen for the retreat is located in Urabamba, which is in the sacred valley on the way to Machu Picchu. It is a beautiful little town nestled in the Andes. Located at the edge of town and at the base of the mountain it gives you the feeling of being removed from the world with out actually leaving.
The grounds are very beautiful with lots of little areas to sit, relax and reflect. The rooms that you stay in are basic yet comfortable. No TV’s, no real internet in the rooms (this proves to be a good thing) but the beds are soft and sheets are clean and the plumbing works (by South American standards anyway). All of the buildings are made out of clay and real wood. No sheetrock, no treated wood. My room reminded me of a room that the lost boys from Peter Pan would live in. The whole experience is kind of like adult sleep away camp in the Shire.
There is wifi by the reception area if you need to check in with the rest of the world, but I loved the fact that I did not have easy access to wifi in your rooms. The only time I used my phone was to take a picture or look at the pictures I took. I had no cell service, checked my email every few days… it was like being in the 90’s again.
On days when there is no ceremony you have the option to go and check out some of the many famous Incan ruins in the area. Sara and Neils do a very good job at taking the rains logistically and making sure all transportation, tickets etc. are taken care of. They also do a nice job as tour guides and tying the Incan history in with the experience you are having at the retreat.
The program itself is a very challenging. If you are looking for a fun light psychedelic experience this is not your retreat. If you are looking to really work on yourself and have a truly personal, interstellar experience this may well be the place you are looking for. There is a diet what consists of a lot of no’s. No pork, no red meat, no booze, no drugs, no sexual release at all, (among other) things before, during and after the retreat. Do not let this deter you, I was very skeptical about this when I started my journey but it is very much worth it. It’s all part of the healing process. The food served at Las Chullpas is all within the diet so you don’t need to worry about that when your there.
The Journey starts with San Padro, the ceremony starts in the outside in morning and lasts through the afternoon. Bernard is the San Padro Shaman and is there to help guide you through this experience that is a very introspective and personal as you are asked not to talk (except to Bernard) during the ceremony.
Guma is the Ayahuasca Shaman. This is a much different experience all together. This ceremony is done at night in a yoga studio type setting. Everyone sits in a circle and has a matt, husband, blanket and bucket. Once everyone drinks the candles are blown out and the rest of the ceremony is completely in the dark. Through energy and chants Guma creates an atmosphere for you to take this journey. He truly is a master at what he does. He does not speak a lick of English but it does not matter as the work he does is far beyond words. Neils and Sara do not drink and are there to translate, facilitate and help out in any way that you need during the ceremony. Since it is pitch black in the room they will help you get to and from the bathroom, to the blessing or will just be a soothing voice in a time of need. Guma is also there to help with any energy blockages or rough patches. You can be assured that there is a lot of love in the room and you are well taken care of while you are there.
The programs itinerary has you taking San Padro twice (the very first and very last ceremonies you have at the retreat) and Ayahuasca four times over the 10 days you are at the retreat. There are a few days off sprinkled in so you have time to process rest between ceremonies. The medicines are working inside you the whole time you are there so these days off are often filled with insight and personal breakthroughs.
I wont go into the details of the ceremony and its journey etc. There are plenty of places you can research that, including this site. I will say however, that Ayahuasca should not be feared but should absolutely be respected. The thing I took away from this experience that was most surprising to me was the healing properties of these plants both psychologically and physically. Physical aliments that plagued me before I got there, (bad hips, bad teeth, heart burn) all stopped bothering my while I was there. I am sure the diet and the release of stress has a lot to do with it as the Ayahuasca and San Padro work in concert with the clean living you are doing while you are there. Not to mention all the negative energy you purge and no longer have to carry around with you. I am not saying these things wont come back if you go back to living the lifestyle that you lived which gave you those burdens, but it can give you a clear glimpse of what life can feel like if you live it as a healthier person. The feeling of serenity after Ayahuasca is unlike any I have felt as an adult.
Then after a week and a half of ceremonies that take you across the universe and back you go to Machu Picchu. One of the most amazing places on earth and again, Neils and Sara take care of all the logistics, hotel etc. including a guided tour so you can just enjoy the experience with the new friends that you have make over the week and a half prior.
If you are looking for answers that are within yourself and are not afraid to work for it, I highly recommend Spirit Plant Journeys. They are upfront about your experience. They are not claiming to cure cancer or something grandioso like that. They are very clear from the get go that you will be doing most of the work on this journey and it will be one of the hardest things you will ever do (it certainly was for me), however they are there to create a place where you can do this work in a safe, relaxing environment so you can focus on healing and growing. I believe you will find that all of the work you do will be more then worth it. It was for me.
This was a such a beautiful retreat. Everything from the food to the lodgings and accommodations was great, and perhaps more importantly than that, both of the shamans were knowledgable, experienced, and very helpful. It was my first time working with both medicines and I can’t have imagined having done them with any other shaman.
Both of the facilitators Neils and Sarah were great as well. They always made you feel comfortable and were approachable with any concerns you might have. They’ll even play you music and sing songs to you every day.
The overall vibe of the retreat was very light-hearted and easy during the times there weren’t ceremonies and then respectful during the ceremonies, which seems to have been the perfect combo.
I’d highly recommend this retreat to anyone, especially after having heard some horror stories about other retreat sites, even ones that have great reviews on here.
Stop waiting and just register!
There is a reason you are attracted to utilizing these medicines, and most of us come with a strong intention of what we need to heal/discover/help ourselves with. However, it is important to note that while we have this intention in mind and often have an idea of what we need to release or shift our beliefs on to get there, we are usually no where near any conscious understanding of the web of things that relate to it and what mental and emotional blocks that are limiting us. These spiritual plant medicines bring all of these things to light and show us what it is we need to reflect more on to heal.
While this is absolutely amazing, it can also really catch you off guard at times. For this reason, I cannot stress enough the importance of having good spiritual facilitators and an appropriate environment while committing to this type of work.
I cannot recommend both Gume, the Shaman, and Bernhard, the San Pedro facilitator, enough. From my own experience as well as from observing others in my group, I can say that they both understand how to help you when you need it. They are both experienced, intuitive, and actually care about assisting you in the healing process. I will always have tremendous gratitude and respect for both of them for not only their help but also for the ways that they work with the medicine. Additionally, the ceremony areas are really in alignment with with the work you are doing and also assist you in your process.
Both Niels and Sarah who run the retreat are lovely people who are there to support you in your work and the accommodations at Las Chullpas are very nice (the food is excellent and it’s a bonus that there are very friendly animals that keep you company).
While this retreat is by no means “easy” it is absolutely worth it for those who are called to work with these medicines. Everyone involved genuinely cares about your well-being and is there to help you on your journey.
If you open your heart to these medicines and allow their wisdom to speak to your soul your life will never be the same.
I cannot say enough about this workshop. Sarah and Neils are amazing. They walk the fine line between professional, approachable, human and loving. I hope they become my lifetime friends. The venue was exceptional and the medicine sublime. I loved every minute–even the hard parts. Also, the people who came to the workshop were so great. We really lucked out–each participant was amazing. Regardless of our very good chemistry, know, as a potential future participant, that the shamans, Gume and Bernhard, are crazy capable in their handling of the group with the medicine. It isn’t easy. I have been to aya ceremonies before, and I promise these shamans and these facilitators are exceptional with their craft. If I could give this organization ten stars, I would. WONDERFUL!!!!!
Spirit Plant Journeys went beyond my expectations. My bf and I decided to go on a spiritual healing–did our research and agreed on Spirit Plant Journey. We chose Spirit Plant Journey b/c they answered all of our questions about the shaman and the program throughly and promptly.
We felt truly blessed that we chose this organization b/c they were such a loving group with positive intentions on healing us. It’s kind of scary to go to a group not knowing but we took a chance and had a positive outcome on this group. BUT now you don’t have to go blindly we did the risk taking for you! 🙂
Sarah and Neils are facilitators became our friends and was willing to listen to us and answer any questions we had. Which is important while you are on this retreat because sometimes you just need someone to talk that understands the process. They created a safe environment for us to open up and heal.
The 10 day program they created was thought out very well. I didn’t understand it until I finished the program. It’s important to finish the program! Even though it can be hard to finish the program for some, try to finish. You will be glad you did!
You start off with San Pedro which is a heart opener. Bernard lead us on San Pedro and a great guide, he was. He’s like a wizard when you’re on san pedro. He is there for you every step of the way and is readily available to you. He helps guide you to where you need to go. The night before we got to cut our own San Pedro and answers all your questions. He is really awesome!! Such a bright and great spirit. You also end with San Pedro which gives you a bright closure to your program.
Guime our Ayahuasca shaman. We are really grateful to have him lead our ceremonies. You hear about all the bad shamans out there and it is really hard to find a genuine shaman like Guime. Guime is very versed at his role. He is brought in from the Amzaon to lead these ceremonies. Guime has been working with Ayahausca since he was 16 and was taught an a great icarus to lead the ceremonies. He works incredibly hard to control the room and keep it safe for us to heal. He is there for you every step of the way and is very in tuned with what is going on in the room. He is also very down to earth and is willing to answer your questions and listen to what you have to say. Which is not common with most shamans.
I came to this retreat for healing. I knew deep down that there was a lot of anger and fear in me and didn’t know why I constantly felt these feelings. I was constantly fighting to be the better me on the daily and I was losing the starting to lose the battle. I needed help and found the help I needed.
I knew that I had a tough childhood. My father was very abusive emotionally and physically but really blocked it out most of my life thinking I was “fine.” But I was not fine, I was projecting myself negatively in other ways. The medicine helped me dig deep into my past and i saw what caused all these fears, insecurities anger and depression. After seeing this I was able to reevaluate and understand how to over come these issues. When you see where the problem stems from you know how to fix yourself. I never felt so confident and more in tuned with myself. I learned to just love myself. it is just that simple!
The other stuff. The fun stuff. While you are in this program you meet the most amazing people. We started out as strangers and within the 10 days we became life long friends—which I still keep in contact with. It was amazing to see the transformation in those around you within 10 days. Everyone became lighter and brighter.
The field trips. You get to see Peru! Neils and Sarah are great tour guides as well. They take us to all the ruins and at the end of the trip we got to go to Machu Pichu.
The place. Las Chullpas was such a great eco lodge. All the dogs and animals around become your best friends. The garden is beautiful. It was cozy and intimate. The food is delcious considering we had to fast and be on a special diet. It wasn’t crap! They actually took out the time to make our diet appetizing.
I can’t wait to go back again.
I just returned from my first ever Ayahuasca retreat, and I would like to give an account of my experience.
I first started researching Ayahuasca retreats about a year ago as a means to bring some balance and happiness to my life. I had developed an amazing life and career for myself, but there was something missing. I could no longer properly explain to my family and friends why I was sad. Nobody understood it….including me.
I signed up for a different retreat, but after looking further in to the organization and questioning their motives for running the retreat, I cancelled (and paid a hefty cancellation fee). I was discouraged, but I didn’t give up. This was just too important for me to go in to without 100% surety that I was with the right retreat.
I kept looking, and after further research, I decided to register for Spirit Plant Journeys due to their no bullshit website and their location in the Andes Mountains which seemed definitely preferable over the jungle. I’d heard that Ayahuasca was unpleasant enough without having to live in a mosquito net for 10 days. After I received the first response from Neils (very straight forward without candy coating the experience), I knew this was the place for me.
As the retreat began to approach, I got further correspondence from Neils to start preparing properly for the ayahuasca ceremonies. Vegetarian Diet, no alcohol, no pork, no prescription drugs, etc….
I was excited about the diet and had no problem with that, but…. Whoops. I had been on Valium (Diazepam) for 15 years due to anxiety. How was I supposed to just stop right away? I started cutting down as much as possible, and went through the deepest anxiety/depression that I had ever LET myself go through. During the terrible withdrawals and anxiety I went through, I realized that this medication could have been the root of my problem. I hadn’t let myself feel anything for 15 years. Shit.
When I arrived, I was pretty much a mess as my body could not familiarize itself to not being on medication. However, right when I met Neils and Sarah I felt better. They are amazing people and they made me feel comfortable even though everything inside of me craved the what I was used to. The numbed, mindless bliss that is the brain of a Standard Medicated American Male.
We arrived to the accommodations in the Sacred Valley and I was pleasantly surprised with the absolute beauty of the facilities and the unique character of the rooms. The facilities Supervisor was super nice and we all settled in our rooms to get ready for dinner.
I was still feeling pretty bad…anxious…depressed…scared…pissed…annoyed…dreading talking to people. However, at dinner, I realized I was with a really good group. While everyone was there for different different reasons, it was very apparent we were all there for the right reasons. This wasn’t just an excuse to go fuck off in the woods for 10 days. This was opportunity to really work on ourselves to discover exactly how much we could enjoy life without the usual crutches of alcohol, drugs, or even television. This was a chance to get to know ourselves and to discover how to perpetually improve not only ourselves but the experiences of those around us.
At dinner, I quickly felt more at ease when Neils and Sarah gave all of us a rundown of what to expect for the next 10 days. They reiterated that it wouldn’t be easy for some people, and that we would all have to work very hard. They also gave us an itinerary of the places we would visit on our days off from ceremonies. Most importantly (for me), they made it very clear that they were not our “leaders” and that they were not there to tell us what to do or think. They were simply there to help guide us and give us advice when needed. I found myself more and more hopeful with each passing moment.
The next morning the hope I had had on the previous night was quickly dashed. The first San Pedro ceremony was at 8:30am that morning and I had a very rough time. My anxieties completely took a hold of me, and I basically spent 12 hours on San Pedro with a deep dreadful stroll through anxious turmoil. It was pointed out to me that I was actually feeling every emotion that I had never allowed myself to during the 15 years on Diazepam. It was tough. I had to face all these anxieties head on and it was excruciating. I wanted to go home. I couldn’t understand why I had allowed myself to even contemplate this horrible experience.
Bernard, the facilitator for the San Pedro ceremony was extremely supportive, and talked me down through what I thought was a certain tragedy that would forever scar my psyche throughout the rest of my miserable anxious life. If it wasn’t for Bernard, I don’t know what I would have done.
However, when the ceremony was over, something magical happened. My body was now experiencing ZERO withdrawal from the Diazepam. If you know anything about this “medication” and the people who had been on it as long as I had, you know that some people experience acute withdrawal for 6 months to a YEAR. I had only been off 2 days and the symptoms I had felt that very morning were completely gone. I was free.
I cautiously went to bed that night, dreading trying to contemplate sleep without Diazepam. But I slept. The San Pedro, no matter how miserable I was while finally facing my fears and emotions, had rewired the energies in my brain. It is day 14 as I type this and I am still off the medication with no desire to ever get back on it. However, I would not recommend taking any medication so close to the retreat. If you can, you should get off medication at least a month before the ceremony so you don’t have to go through what I went through. More on that later, maybe.
With the San Pedro fully flushing the medication out of my brain waves, I was ready for the Ayahuasca ceremonies, which occurred on the 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th nights of the retreats. I don’t want to get too much in to my ayahuasca experience because everyone is different and has their own journeys, but I can tell you that these were some of the most amazing moments of my life. They were also some of the hardest. Our Shaman, Gumercindo, was unbelievably amazing. I have never met an individual with such amazing energy. He is truly a good, talented, healer, and I will never forget his presence during those nights. I will leave this section short, because I will never be able to properly explain my experience to anyone using words. It is just simply amazing what a plant can help you feel.
We finished the ceremonies with a final day of San Pedro. I am happy to report is was nothing like my experience on day one. I was happy, exuberant, and full of life. A perfect ending to the ceremony portion of the trip. The plants had taught me in the span of 6 days what my mind couldn’t teach in 34 years.
The Field Trips
Neils and Sarah went through great lengths to organize amazing outings throughout different towns/attractions in the area. We went to Lares, Pisac, Ollataytambo, and ultimately, Machu Picchu. Having the peace of mind from the ceremonies while experiencing these amazing sites was an a journey all in itself. The comradery of the group was an added bonus to these amazing ventures. We had all arrived very vulnerable and in different stages of grief, but had quickly become a tight-knit group. We were all there for each other.
The food on the outings and especially at the lodge was incredible. I never knew that eating healthy could be so delicious and rewarding. I looked forward to what was in store at every meal.
At the end of the retreat, I realized many things I hadn’t thought about before.
I realized that I had been completely ignoring myself for a long time. Focusing on work and doing anything possible to not contemplate my own existence. I also realized that contemplating my existence, feelings, and fears was really fucking hard! But I know how to do it now. The ayahuasca ceremonies made me accurately aware of how my body reacts to stress and anxiety. I now know how to recognize it and deal with it before it sweeps me away in to an unbearable depression. I now know how to relax….to breath in to my problems.
Thanks to my new friends I met at Spirit Plant Journeys; my group, Bernard, Neils, Sarah, and Gume, I now know that anxiety and depression is just a way of thinking. Thoughts are just thoughts. It’s how you react to those thoughts that defines how you live your life. Love yourself, love others, be open and compassionate and willing to accept things you might not understand. Breathe.
I don’t know if I will ever fully comprehend exactly how much this experience with Spirit Plant Journeys has changed my life for the better. But I also learned that I don’t have to understand everything, so I will take this opportunity to thank you again and I look forward to what the future will hold.
I will not even attempt to describe the plant medicines themselves, to squish the amazing experience I had into fumbling words couldn’t ever do it justice. And the same is true for the beautiful environment and people outside of ceremony, but I will try.
I feel very lucky to have been in the group I was and have so much love for the people both taking part in and working to make this retreat happen. They were nothing short of hospitable in terms of accommodations, but the care extended far beyond that. Sarah, Neils, Bernhard and Gume each offered a unique and dynamic awareness and care to each aspect of this retreat both inside and outside ceremony that I can’t imagine being matched anywhere, in care, authenticity or thoughtfulness.
It will be impossible not to come back again soon after such a changing experience. For those ready to come and do the work, you will get it back tenfold. Endless thank yous Spirit Plant Journeys!
I have to say this is one of the best experiences I ever had. From beginning to end the atmosphere was focused but not overly critical. The owners Niels and Sarah were fantastic to have as our facilitators. These individuals practice what they preach by not preaching at all. They lead by example by creating an atmosphere that allows for much opportunity to occur. I came with a intention and had my expectations more than met… They were blown out of the water in the most profound and beautiful ways. The healers Gumercindo and Bernard are masters of their craft. They are real people with real abilities to heal through the medicine.
It was nice to be able to see the sights of Peru but still remain on the objective of healing. I was more than pleased to receive good communication with the owners on how to mentally and physically prepare for the new journey I am now on. I am forever changed by the experience I had from April 7th-17th. I highly recommend this retreat for anyone else seeking real growth and self-empowerment. Don’t be fooled by other programs’ hype and false promises.
I will definitely be back for another journey with this company. Niels and Sarah are now friends for life. Upwards and onwards. Cheers to the invisible. Love.
I just finished a retreat with Spirit Plant Journeys, and the experience exceeded all expectations (and mine were already very high)! From start to finish, Neils and Sarah were very attentive, thoughtful, and welcoming. Before even arriving in Peru, Neils was very communicative and easy to reach. He made sure everyone was prepared for the trip, by sending all kinds of helpful pre-travel information and instructions for the retreat. When I arrived, I felt at home right away.
The facilities at SPJ were far more luxurious than I anticipated, and the lodge is even more incredible in person than it appears on the website. My room was very charming and tidy, and came with a fireplace, hot water, and daily housekeeping service. Even though we had to stick with the ayahuasca diet, the food was amazing! We had three well-balanced meals a day, except on fasting days of course, and I felt great eating such healthy food, fresh fruits and vegetables. Drinking water and coca tea are provided at all times, and there’s wifi on the premises.
The retreated included 6 ceremonies, two San Pedro and four ayahuasca. I really liked how they incorporated both masculine and feminine plants, so we had a very comprehensive experience with the medicines. Bernard was our healer for the San Pedro ceremonies, and he was fantastic! He was extremely adept, mindful, and had a profound understanding and appreciation of his plants. Gume was the shaman for the ayahuasca ceremonies, and when you meet him, you immediately know you are in excellent hands. We were so fortunate to be working with such a skilled, well-regarded master of ayahuasca!
Personally, I connected beautifully with the medicines and had a very transformative experience. Neils and Sarah stressed the importance of setting your intentions beforehand, and I felt like I met (or surpassed!) mine every time. Even though the ceremonies can be incredibly intense, mentally and physically, the rewards far outweighed the discomforts. Now that the retreat is over, I feel like a new person, with a much deeper understanding of myself and the world around me. That being said, I would strongly recommend doing your research on ayahuasca, how the ceremonies are performed, and the potential effects and side effects before you drink so you know what you’re getting yourself into.
Even when we weren’t exploring the magic of the medicines, there was always something for us to do, whether it was a hiking excursion, yoga classes, zip lining, or a trip to the hot springs. They even arranged for a masseuse to give us massages! Good luck finding all that at any other retreat!
Lastly, one of the most amazing things about my time with Spirit Plant Journeys, that I certainly did not expect, was such a strong feeling of camaraderie with my fellow retreat-goers. Everyone I met was so kind, genuine, and open-minded. Even though we were only together for 10 days, I feel like I’ve known everyone for ages! I definitely made some wonderful friends during the trip that I will be staying in touch with long after this is over.
Of course it goes without saying that I will absolutely be back next time I am in need of some spiritual healing and soul searching. And even if I didn’t want to drink any more ayahuasca (which would be crazy talk!), it’d be worth it to come down to Peru just to have Neils and Sarah serenade me with their beautiful guitar-playing and singing. Thanks so much Spirit Plant Journeys for the most memorable trip of my life!
Spirit plant journeys changed my life. On one of my four experiences I had a kundalini awakening. I experienced a complete detachment from mind and body and was embraced in spiritual ecstasy. It was the most pure experience in my life and the closest I have ever been to God.
I spent 10 days with Spirit Plant journeys in March of 2015, and I could not have chosen a better group to go with. I had so many questions before attending the retreat, and Neils was wonderful with answering all of my emails and walking me through the process of what I could expect. The result is that I arrived at the trip feeling incredibly well prepared. The photos on the website made the retreat center look nice, but I honestly had no idea how absolutely gorgeous it would be. It’s like a paradise there, tucked into the side of the mountain. Flowers fill every part of the grounds, and there are the most lovely dogs that greet you every day and even a baby llama. Neils and Sarah are extraordinary people who helped us with ever detail and really inspired us to be brave with the process of using plant medicine. The two shamans we worked with were so caring and supportive. Bernhard is a light energy worker who knew the exact ways to guide us through our use of San Pedro. And Gomae is an unbelievable shaman. The work was hard, but the payoffs incredible. When not in ceremony the retreat provided yoga and massage and wonderful field trips. I am deeply grateful for my experience with this group, and could not recommend them more.
I just got back from a 10 day retreat with Spirit Plant Journeys. The experience was far better than I could have imagined it to be. Everything from the people, the setting, and the medicine were all beautiful. It was very challenging working with the medicine, but the rewards and gains far outweigh any hardships. Neils and Sarah are two exceptional guides who go out of their way to make sure you are informed and comfortable. I recommend following the diet and guidelines the best you can.
I had such an amazing and inspiring time here and I highly recommend it to anyone considering. Thank you to Neils and Sarah for their work.
I really can’t express my gratitude to these guys enough. It would be an understatement to say that I have been around the block a time or two. I did not show up as a naive tourist with wide eyes and foggy notions. I have experienced a lot of modalities and have a pretty discerning eye for the real deal. I came to Spirit Plant Journeys with an objective and focus.
I say all of this knowing full well it may sound arrogant and I say this to highlight the true pleasure it was to have found this place.
Not only were the accommodations charming and warm, the people who run and facilitate it were exceptional in their kindness, generosity and willingness to share whatever knowledge they had.
One key factor that stood out was the complete lack of superiority or “know it all-ness” by the shamans and facilitators. They made it clear from the the moment we met that they hold no special powers, are not here to fix or change us. They have, however invested their lives in making themselves effective facilitators so that the participants can be engaged in their own self discovery and transformation so that they leave the center with something powerful and applicable without the need to be dependent on some shaman or guru.
That being said, it was also clear that we were being supported by some highly evolved individuals. There was a particular clarity and authenticity they had that allowed our entire group to let our guard down and have a profound evolution together. We walked in as strangers and out as family.
The mix of rigor and relaxation was a great blend for me (even though I tend to ere in thinking that harder = better).
Mixing the day trips in with the ceremonies was a great balance and did not disrupt our progress.
I am sure there are many great centers who offer ceremonies and I can not speak for them. All I can say is that I am forever grateful for this experience and plan on returning next year ready to see what’s next.
I was the oldest of the group (56, female) and consider myself religious but have never used any sort of psychedelics, drugs, or even rarely drink alcohol. I would like to separate the facilitators (Neils and Sarah) from the facility and from the experience itself, and give you some assurances regarding the issues that I was concerned about, as well as a few other practical considerations to think about.
1). Yes, you can trust them with your money. At the time we did our retreat, they requested downpayment via wire transfer. When you get to the Western Union or Moneygram office, you are STRONGLY CAUTIONED NOT to wire transfer unless you personally know the people/business. One of the ladies (Boston area) was even refused and had to go to her bank (where the fee is higher).
2). Initial communications. They seemed a bit disconnected/disorganized or not answering the questions I was asking. Now that I have been there, I see it is because they are working VERY hard to meet the group needs as well as working closely to meet the myriad of needs of the individual participants. In addition, the internet connection does not work well for this city (Urubamba). One of the participants had purchased a cell data plan and seemed to be using it a lot. I went with AT&T passport that is mainly text, so was relying on WIFI for using the internet, which was very slow when the city wakes up and starts getting on-line. Also, when they are not hosting retreats, Neils and Sarah are often traveling to the Amazon (or other areas) so I suspect connectivity is often a challenge for them as well.
3) Seemed the best way to communicate with them was via email. Neils phone did not take texts (internationally)? However, once I got to Cusco and figured out how to make a ‘local’ phone call, I was able to talk to him. What I am trying to say is that communication difficulties are not due to them trying to avoid you. They WILL do everything they can to assist you.
-Also, I DID have incapacitating altitude sickness upon arrival in Cusco and he went above and beyond to help me: called the hotel staff for me (I speak no Spanish), and helped me get my delayed bag at the airport. Neils and Sarah are kind hearted and caring people who will do ‘what needs to be done’ to help you, not in a ‘concern for business’ sense, but because of the loving people they are.
NOTE: I have skied at altitude, do interval training, drank the tea, which is supposed to help, etc. and was still sick. I prefer a no medicine policy – but I would make a back-up plan with Neils regarding the altitude meds. Was glad I had 24 hours to recover before the retreat. Don’t cut it too close if you can possibly arrange your work schedule. And Cusco is a fascinating city worthy of more than your before and after trip overnights.
The program: I am extremely grateful to have had such a high caliber retreat experience and NOT have to go into the Amazon. I found the experience of Peru travel and the medicine quite challenging, and frankly would have been miserable adding the rigors of an Amazonian dimension to it. I feel they put together a well paced retreat experience where you also get their experience in taking you to the Sacred Valley sites. Definitely do the post-retreat Machu Picchu visit. They know the ‘drill’ and good hotel/restaurants. They even hire a guide to take the group through Mapi (that was a bonus I didn’t realize we were getting). Oh, they asked if we wanted to do any additional hikes. You can do Mapi proper or even huanya picchu, which you will read about on tripadvisor, etc as being the ultimate. I was SO GRATEFUL our group said no additional. With just the normal tour, my fitbit recorded 20,000+steps for the day and 281 flights of stairs. I consider myself to be in pretty good shape, but was generally tired a lot of the time from the retreat experience and the altitude. I would not push yourself to do extra exertion.
About the retreat you select: What I learned while on this one is that your experience will be greatly impacted by the other participants. We ended up with about 12. When you are in the throws of aya (for me it was never ‘pleasant’ – although it WAS for some) you do not want to be surrounded by a huge number of uncomfortable people. There WILL be moaning and violent purging, and the sounds all seem magnified. Check the likely group size. Spiritplant seems it will never be too large due to the amount of space available at the hotel/retreat they use. Also, people, please be somewhat informed and prepared for what you are getting in to. Several people who weren’t ended up leaving after a few days.
The shaman (Gume) works incredibly hard to control what is happening in there (the ceremony room=maloka). I was shocked to learn that some places use recorded music or such (and have huge groups). Our shaman travels from the Amazon with his brew and started his training at the age of 14.
Also, you are relying on your facilitators for your health and safety, so to me it was important that they were not under the influence of the medicine when we were. The shaman (who has been drinking it since age 14) always drinks, as it helps him guide/help the participants. *One thing the shaman did was after the first night, he changed something about the intensity of the brew. For me, it made it difficult to calibrate how much to drink the next few times.
Tobacco (not cigarettes) is used as part of the ceremony. I am very sensitive to smoke of all kinds. I was surprised at the number of smokers in our group. In theory, tobacco in the enclosed space is only supposed to be used as part of the ceremony. As the days progress and people become more familiar, this policy started to disintegrate. So when I asked that it be upheld, it was. However, it was uncomfortable for me that it was being done ‘for me’ (I was not the only person bothered by it). From a group dynamic point of view, it seems better that these just be policy/procedural issues vs. ‘we can’t smoke in here because it bothers (insert name_______). Also, the casual use of profanity (FREQUENTLY) and words such as ‘pussy’ in casual conversation became intolerable to me and I finally spoke with Neils about it. He was kind and concerned and mentioned it to the group (as did I), but again, people were apologizing to me personally. Which I found awkward. This was a group of spiritually evolved (or trying to be) people who saw no connection between disrespectful and vulgar language as a toxin to themselves and everyone who is subjected to hearing it. I do not know the solution to this, other than perhaps there could be a statement in the Spiritplant prep list regarding.
The eco-retreat facility itself is beyond beautiful (photos do not capture it). That said, I do think they need to invest in a few oil-filled radiator heaters. They are safe and it just got to be too much being cold all the time. There are ‘fireplaces’ in the rooms, but I was too concerned about how much smoke would be generate to try to use it (and people seemed to have difficulty starting fires).
They food was far tastier than I could have expected, and you can walk down to the end of the street to the corner store to add in a few provisions if needed (i.e. nuts, chocolate:-), etc.
The medicine: The San Padro was a ‘bonus’ that I had not really focused on, having read/researched the most about aya. Neither were pleasant for me. I tried not to have ‘expectations’ going into the retreat, other than healing from a painful divorce, and all the personality traits/life issues that are involved with getting into and staying in a relationship that winds up in a painful divorce. I did not have any ‘breakthrough’ revelatory experiences, found the physical sensations uncomfortable, etc. but have waited to write my comments until I got home. I have been home about a week, and am pleased with the outcome so far. My anxiety is less and feels more manageable plus I have a stronger sense that everything will work out according to God’s plan. My eyes have not hurt. For the last year or two, when I would get stressed/anxious it all came out through my eyes.
I now better understand all the comments written about aya, it is a start, it gives each person what they need, relax, breathe, you are in control, the universe will guide you, etc.
I did for a fleeting moment in a ceremony see a divine light so bright that even in my minds eye I had to turn away. My mind/concentration was not strong enough to hold me in that moment, but I have that image/feeling to turn to when I feel distressed.
So like childbirth, I don’t think we fully realize what we are getting ourselves into or we wouldn’t do it. I really hope to not do aya again, but I am very grateful that I did this, and especially at that place and with these people.
I would not hesitate to recommend Spiritplant, and as they integrate lessons from each group they facilitate, am confident that they will only improve. We were group 9 and they have started #10 as of Jan 2015.
p.s. If you want an idea of what aya brew tastes like. Buy a bottle of swedish bitters. It will help acclimate you to the ‘bitter’ aspect of flavors which we don’t use much in our society any more. If you add some chewing tobacco juice, you will probably be close to the taste (dont really do that last part). Also, regarding the San Pedro. In many hispanic markets they sell fresh nopal cactus ‘paddles’ with the thorns removed. Blend that in a green smoothie drink (get a fresh aloe leaf and use some of the clear inner flesh). Make it as minimally sweet as possible. This will be a similar taste and texture as the San Pedro. It is ‘viscous and mucilaginous’ (good for your intestines) and prepares you for the ‘slimy’ texture that made SP difficult for some to drink.
There were some amazing stories at our retreat. It was practically the first airplane trip for one young man – so definitely go, don’t let fear or travel inexperience stop you and if you can learn some spanish in advice, your experience will be enriched. The Peruvian people are warm and I never felt unsafe there.
My experience with Spirit Plant Journeys is something that I’m not really sure I can put into words. Actually, I know there is a great portion that could never be put into words, but the rest I will attempt to articulate… Overall, it was nothing short of amazing. Through and through, a deeply profound, beautiful and life changing experience. The insights and lessons I’ve learned here are priceless and it’s one of, if not, THE most meaningful experience I’ve ever had in my life. Having such awesome facilitators and shamans to guide me through the experience was definitely key, big thanks to Neils, Sarah, Bernard and Gume. They are always there for you and whatever you may need, so you can relax knowing you’re in great hands, and of course the gorgeous, lush and cozy lodging area didn’t hurt either! I feel beyond lucky to have gotten so many great things from one place, and I would recommend anyone who is looking for a safe, comfortable, and powerfully transformative retreat to look no further! Thank you Spirit Plant Journeys!
Wow where do I begin? I just went on the most intense inner spiritual journey of my lifetime. I’m feeling extreme gratitude for my experience and for Neils, Sara, Bernard and Gume the shaman. What sets this retreat apart is the epicly beautiful location in the sacred valley. The jungle setting isn’t for everyone so this was a really pleasant place to do something like aya and San Pedro. The combo of the two medicines was extremely transformational for me. I plan on going into more detail as I document my experiences in a blog on mysticbabe.com in the near future.
As for the facilitators, Neils and Sara couldn’t have been more perfect for this. They’re experienced with the medicine, and are continually working to make sure we were comfortable and happy. I asked a trillion and one questions and they were always answered with compassion and patience. The food is great (exept when it’s not supposed to be on ceremony days) and the rooms are quaint. It’s basically like high end camping. The weather and rooms get a bit cold in that area so be sure to bring warm clothes and a good attitude. The day trips and exursions are great and all the work is done for you so all you have to do is show up with a smile.
Bernard, the San Pedro medicine man was an integral part in my journey. He has such a profound understand of the plant and of life itself. He’s one of the wisest and kindest spirits I’ve ever met and I feel so blessed to have worked with him.
This is a unique and comfortable way to experience your aya journey. I highly recommend it to anyone ready for this transformation. Aya is not for the faint of heart. Buckle your seat belts and prepare for a wild ride. I love you spirit plant journeys !!
Sarah and Neils put together an amazing retreat. It far exceeded my expectations and I can really say that this was a truly life changing experience. The ceremonies led by the shamans were always an amazing experience. They create a space where you can truly connect with the medicine and the people who will eventually become your closest friends. The excursions were an awesome addition to the San Pedro and Ayahuasca ceremonies they picked amazing ruins to visit and I highly suggest going on the Machu Picchu excursion at the end. If you want a retreat that includes amazing facilitators, loving, friendly shamans and a BEAUTIFUL venue. Spirit Plant Journeys is the place to go. Real people, real experiences, amazing friendships. You will not be disappointed.
We really thank the Universe to show us our shamanic jourey to retreat of Spirit Plant Journeys in Sacred Valley. We found here amazing fascilitators, whose work is not about the profit. We also appreciate a very clean and comfortable accomodation, lovely food, good room service and whole pleasant enviroment of Las Chullpas. Sarah, Neils and Nancy are very kind and helpful people. They allow us to stay there one more day before and after retreat. The Shamanic rituals was life changed experience. It opened us to higher self and new dimensions. Big gratitude to the shamans and their patience and sensitive access. If you really want to hear a beatiful voices of angels in the moment, when you are heavy and sick, then come to Sacred Valley, because they will sing you during ceremonies throughout Sarah’s throat. Discovering of higher sense of human being heals your soul in every level of consciousness.
Set in a beautiful eco lodge nestled in the Sacred Valley there is a calming and tranquil vibe and a good setting for the sometimes intense healing ceremonies. The food was healthy and abundant and well catered. The lodgings couldn’t have been better with hot water, comfortable beds and rooms cleaned every day. Trips to ancient sites and markets were a bargain and not to be missed.
But the real thing I came for was the ceremonies especially the Ayahuasca medicine which I had returned to Peru after 8 years to do again. The Amazonian Ayahuascero Guermacindo kept us all safe and guided through the journeys and his powerful singing voice just blew me away. I have such a deep respect for this shaman if I ever do the medicine again I would want Guermacindo to be there.
My compliments to the facilitators and staff at Spirit Plant Journeys for this great Ayahuasca experience, I learnt and saw a lot on my ceremonies and it’s still working positive changes in my life. The added extra to sacred Macchu Picchu is not to be missed.
I was very lucky to find out about this retreat and am very happy to have experienced what Ayahuasca and San Pedro had to show and teach me. Neils and Sarah are both very helpful and accommodating, when staying at the retreat and taking part in the ceremonies. I felt very comfortable and safe in the retreat environment and confident with the facilitators and shamans. There is definitely something to be gained and discovered when taking ayahuasca and San Pedro, you will go home with a new sense of yourself and perhaps a new perspective or ability to face your fears or whatever is hindering you from living life. I would recommend this retreat to anybody who is looking to have a safe, comfortable and fun experience with ayahuasca and san pedro. Thank you so much Neils and Sarah!
Here is my review. I decided to go to this retreat with Neils and Sarah because of the type of people they seem to be to me. Once i was there it couldn’t be better than that, they are attentionate, sympathetic, extremely helpful with the preparation of the journey. We could ask any question and we were able to feel at ease with them. They are now my friends and they have a big part in my heart.
The venue was amazing, all the staff and the cooking of nancy was amazing! Inka trails are 30 sec walk from there to! The trip seriously changed my life. I was sick when i got there and i seriously seen a big change in my problem! The Shamans are really helpful during the ceremony! Magic happens during those ceremony! I am still speechless from the experience i had there.If anybody want to have a spiritual journey, this is the place to go!