Aussie Enthusiast's Reviews
If you are a psychedelic adventurer, then this Retreat is definitely not for you. Save your US$600 for a different retreat where the Ayahuasca includes enough DMT to provide visions. I’ve previously done Ayahuasca many times and experienced amazing visions. However, after 3 sessions here I experienced nothing and most of the other participants experienced very little visioning as well.
If you are seeking healing of some sort, maybe this retreat will suit you better, but personally I doubt it. Basically, avoid it and pick a better retreat. We wish we did. We chose it because Sharman Percy was completely flexible, reasonably priced and suited our tight schedule. But ultimately, he did not deliver what I believe to be a proper visionary Ayahuasca experience. Ayahuasca is well known for its healing capabilities as well as its visual rewards as captured in the amazing artwork it inspires.
After discussions with a number of people and reading other reviews, I now believe this retreat has been set up by shaman Percy to be as convenient as possible to his lifestyle. Percy lives away from the retreat (I was told in Iquitos which is at least 25 mins walk + 40min drive away) and only visits the retreat 3 times a week on Ceremony nights and travels back into Iquitos after each ceremony which is a long way particularly after a ceremony. With a view to being at home in bed before midnight I believe Percy intentionally keeps the ceremonies short with a brew that is not very powerful with respect to visioning. Having now paid more attention, to the negative reviews it appears it may have once been the case that Percy had strong brew because his customers complained about Percy finishing the ceremony and departing the retreat and leaving him feeling abandoned. I think Percy learnt from this and came up with the wrong solution which was to under dose his participants such that they get the purging but not the visions and he can still leave early without worrying about participants struggling with visions. I think this is a really sad way to do business. And at the prices Percy is charging it is most definitely a lucrative business. Anywhere from 2-14 people paying US$500-600 a week in Iquitos is great money there and anywhere else in the world for that matter.
A more detailed account of our Experience:
To say that my friend Dan and I were disappointed in our experience at the DAS retreat is an understatement. We were both really excited to be in Peru with the aim of a wonderful and enlightening Ayahuasca experience in the heart of the Amazon jungle. I’d been told in Australia that there is no better way to experience Ayahuasca than in the Peruvian jungle with an authentic Shaman.
So, the DAS retreat is about 48km out of Iquitos and then a further half hour walk along a muddy path to get to the retreat itself. Dan and I were brimming with excitement for the adventure ahead.
After arriving and being shown to our sleeping huts (which are really basic but did meet with our expectations) we joined the group for a flower bath. During the flower bath we met shaman Percy Garcia. He advised that his brew contains an additional 12 secret plants to assist with the healing and Ayahuasca experience. We were asked if we’d done Ayahuasca before and asked our intention for the ceremony. I explained that I’d done it before at least 16 times and that I usually needed a strong dose and that our intention was to have Ayahuasca related visions. Strangely Percy sort of scoffed at this and explained that Ayahuasca doesn’t always give visions and gave the impression (and I could be wrong) that he thought we were a couple of ignorant gringos. He told us a story about how big muscular gringos think they can drink Ayahuasca and end up crying like babies and are unable to get themselves to the toilets. Then he declares that both Dan and I will be only allowed to have a single medium cup that ceremony and that was his determination. No further discussion was to be entered into. It was clear that his determination was final and given it is his retreat and his brew we agreed to defer to his ‘wisdom’.
We are then given our flower bath and sent to the Maloca for the ceremony. So the first of a number of bad impressions was then created. After waiting in our allocated positions for the ceremony to start, we are advised by Percy’s assistant Joel that Percy will not start the ceremony until we pay the remaining US$300 owing for the week. This seems like extraordinarily poor timing as he already had our 50% US$300 deposit prepaid. I question Joel if he is serious and can we just fix him up the next day. He advises that we must go back to our huts and pay immediately, or the ceremony will not happen. So we comply and I guess now I understand why.
Anyway, that night we drink what is certainly the most disgusting tasting Ayahuasca brew I’ve ever consumed (and none of them are ever nice). We lie down and he starts his icaros. His ceremony is ok and I’m in no way qualified to give an opinion about its quality. But the brew as expected made me nauseous. At times Percy’s helper Joel would come over and tell me to close my eyes and concentrate because the Ayahuasca is working it’s magic and that you need to concentrate to get the visions. This I found very odd. In my experience when the Ayahuasca starts working you don’t need to concentrate, the visions come through loud and clear, no particular concentration is needed. You can’t possibly miss them!! So I just lay there listening and waiting and waiting for something to come on. With nothing happening, please excuse my possible lack of imagination, the ceremony was unfortunately quite dull. Three hours of “naval gazing” with a churning stomach and being treated like a naughty child for looking around is more than enough. Finally the ceremony was over. After closing the ceremony Percy basically left the Maloca and fled the retreat to go home to Iquitos as that is where he lives. So a short ceremony finishing up before 10pm is obviously how things work at DAS and clearly it suits Percy’s work schedule perfectly.
When I check in with Dan, his experience was the same as mine except that he can add to the list the worst diarrhoea (or lower gate purging) he has ever experienced as well as no visions. It is not till later in the evening back in my hut that I also experience the worst diarrhoea of my life. We are both really disappointed that night. However, it is not till the next day that we find out that none of the participants have experienced visions. None!! Everyone purged but nobody had visions. I found this very very odd. I started to wonder if we are all being low dosed so he can get home early or his brew is mostly the vine (MAOI) and too low in the shakruna (DMT) to provide visions. Or alternatively his 12 other plants, make up too much volume in his brew and limit it.
I then found out from the two long term participants who are on plant diets at the retreat that they rarely have strong visions and that Percy’s brew focuses on the lower two chakras and that Percy’s medicine is more focused on healing than visionary experiences. I’d have thought the two could be combined but I really wish someone had told me that before I committed US$600 to seeking an Ayahuasca experience at Percy’s retreat. It is not the desire to clean their bowels that draws most people to seek an Ayahuasca experience. I believe it is the lure of Ayahuasca based artwork and the promise of visions that makes retreats such as DAS a destination for the majority of Ayahuasca seekers. I feel if this isn’t what is offered then it should be made clearer on the website.
Clearly at the prices Percy is charging and his attitude towards the money, he is running a commercial enterprise. Business is obviously good. He lives in Iquitos, drives a top of the range Ford Ranger XLT and as such he should be very clear about what he is offering.
During the next ceremony I was able to consume a bit more Ayahuasca but I was absolutely limited by Percy to two cups without any attempt to consult with me during the ceremonies to see if I was experiencing anything. Needless to say, I did not experience any visioning and instead, just got more purging.
I remember reading the reviews about Percy’s retreat on trip advisor and the overwhelming majority were positive. Unfortunately, this gave me a false sense of anticipation for a positive experience. All my ceremonies their were disappointing and I can only wish I’d attended another retreat.