Review of Nimea Kaya Ayahuasca Retreat November 2019.
Glad you’re reading this review. Along with 19 other participants (so 20 in all) I attended the 9 day Ayahuasca retreat at Nimea Kaya retreat center, Pucallpa, Peru in November 2019.
As I see it, these are the components of an Ayahuasca retreat, more or less in order of importance:
• Initial contact and website
• Ceremonial space
I’ll take each in turn. For each, I’ll ask the simple question: could it have been better? In reading below you’ll discover that except in very minor ways the answer I give is no – in other words for anything of importance it was simply the best it could be. And that is high, and deserved, praise.
Nimea Kaya (nimeakaya.org) has been operating for many years, originally founded in 2008 under a different name, it has been on the present land just outside Pucallpa since 2013. You can read all about this at:
The founders are Jill and Casey. Unfortunately, as they are obviously beautiful human beings, we didn’t get to meet Jill or Casey this time.
To take each of the above in turn:
Initial Contact and Website
The website is beautiful, very informative and with a vast array of information available.
From the first contact after they receive your application you are kept informed of what you need to know. Most crucially this concerns the ‘Ayahuasca diet’ and you are given advice on this in this initial email.
After a short while, you won’t like the taste or want to drink it, but that’s the nature of the brew! Peppermint oil is offered during the ceremony as they have learnt this is the most effective way to help with the taste.
You’ll get to see a brew being made, and come to understand what a lengthy (more than 48 hours over hot flames) procedure it is – a true labour of love. The brew you see being prepared becomes part of the brew you drink during your 4th ceremony. And you get to meet the brewers. Once you see how loving, how knowledgeable and how reverential they are towards their plant teachers you understand you couldn’t be drinking a better brew.
Adan is the chief brewer, you can read about him and the procedure at:
Just have a read of https://www.nimeakaya.org/about-us/ to learn about the shamans who come. In spanish they are addressed as ‘maestro’ and this is appropriate. There are a male and female shaman present at each ceremony and each in turn makes his or her way around the room to each participant, singing their magical ‘Icaros’ and using Agua de Florida water and Mopacho smoke to cleanse you, protect you and guide your journey. Their presence is powerful and absolutely key. They have to hold space for 20 Westerners who are pretty much ‘losing it’ as they experience powerful revelations, deep healing and sometimes soul-tearing sorrow.
Nothing but praise and admiration. They are beautiful people with warm, loving smiles and the flower baths after ceremony from the female shamans are a treat as well as a blessing. Their Icaros, hour after hour, are the glue that binds us, holds us to this earth and brings us home.
The traditional ceremonial space is called the Maloka. Our Maloka became like the most precious, special, magical place on earth to us. As one participant said in wonder ‘there’s magic in this place’. The building is beautifully constructed of some kind of hard, dark wood, truly special.
There are comfortable mats to sit or lie on for each participant.
And – bonus – toilets are inside through a doorway. So you never have to leave this special space, unless you want (as some did) to experience nature in all her glory in the moonlight just outside.
And – extra bonus – there’s a back room, where if someone is extra-active and would disturb the others they can safely let it all out in that room. And in ceremony 4 that’s exactly what happened. The room was essential to the well-being and wellfare of all participants that night.
Rating: 10/10 (actually 20/10 but that’s impossible).
Once a fragile, perhaps shattered human being came to the jungles to drink Ayahuasca. And they left strengthened and knew they needed to drink again. After they have drunk several times they feel the call to be a facilitator so others can also experience this powerful healing medicine.
There are 6 facilitators in all. Each a joy, bringing their own unique gifts to the mix. The facilitators are the rocks upon which you stand to reach for the heights. Their support is essential. Any time during the ceremony you are in need you are able to knock and have a facilitator come to your assistance. For myself they were an integral, indivisible part of my 3rd ceremony. I cannot praise them enough. Their role is emotionally and physically draining and they cannot do it for many months without needing time away to recharge. They are true servants of humanity and of the highest good and they deserve in turn the very highest praise.
Rating: Nothing but praise and admiration, much more than 10/10.
The ceremony is conducted beautifully with appropriate pacing and creation of a safe, reverential space.
I feel I wouldn’t want more than 20 participants, but I sure wouldn’t want less than 20 participants either. You needed this number to create a powerful, loving space and experience. There really seemed to be a group energy that we all felt during ceremony.
Rating: I have nothing to compare the ceremony to, but having participated in 4 to date at Nimea Kaya I give a rating of 10/10 as these ceremonies offered some of the most extra-ordinary moments of my life.
Again, I have nothing to compare it to, however we were informed that the schedule has been continually improved over more than 10 years to offer the best possible retreat experience. Certainly it offered a mix of deep challenge (The first 2 ceremonies are without a break of a rest day in between) and relaxation – hours of hammock time if that’s your thing, plus a river cruise to the local Shipibo village.
The Integration Circle at 11am after each ceremony night was essential and an extra-ordinary experience of deep listening and active loving.
Apart from ceremony there are the wonderful and wondrous Integration circles, yoga sessions, other energy and body movement sessions, a visit by visionary artists, the mind-blowing and wallet-emptying market day where the local Shipibo people come to display their handicrafts – the best handicraft I have ever seen or could imagine. And the fun and relaxing river cruise to the local village of San Francisco where we danced with the kids and ate fruit with the locals.
Oh and there’s also a couple of very interesting doco’s screened.
The sessions designed to help us integrate the work during ceremony, such as the yoga and yoga-related sessions, are all conducted by the highly skilled and deeply loving facilitators, so even more praise to them.
The plant walk with Adan shows you just how much knowledge and reverence he has for his plant teachers. Highly recommended.
And also available for extra cost are healing sessions with facilitators – such as Reiki and other healings. I heard only universal praise for the effectiveness of these sessions from those who did take up the offer.
Rating: There’s a wide range of activities scheduled and I participated in everything I could, to my lasting benefit. An easy 10/10.
The Ayahuasca diet requires the restriction or elimination of salt, sugar, spices and oil. Working with these ‘restrictions’ the ever smiling ladies in the kitchen prepared delicious and filling meals, sometimes involving plantains and the local tuber yukka. The drinks were all delicious and the ‘superfood smoothies’ regularly available a definite highlight.
Always available are coca and una de gato (cat’s claw) teas and bowls of fruit. The local ‘passionfruit’ -Grenadier – another highlight, a true sweet treat.
For vegans like myself, please note that eggs are served but these are from the chickens who live at the centre and they are never cooked into the food, they are always available as a side dish instead. So the food remains vegan friendly.
And as an extra bonus, the water for the whole centre is treated with MMS, so it’s got an extra boost to help with healing and reduce tension and inflammation.
Rating: an easy 10/10
The Maloka is so wonderful I can’t praise it highly enough. The kitchen and ‘Big house’ are traditionally constructed, very comfortable, more than functional for their purpose.
The accommodation is simple and comfortable. You will need the mosquito nets around each bed and more than likely the fan in each room too. Toilets and showers are simple, functional – drop toilets and cold showers. You’re in the jungle, it’s often very hot, so these facilities are more than adequate.
The grounds are beautiful – a mix of jungle with many medicinal plants, including Ayahuasca, growing as well as lawns with beautiful flower beds and trees with hammocks. There are also hammocks at each of the accommodations.
Rating: An easy 10/10
Now we come to the only point of criticism for the entire experience. Pucallpa, once a small village, is now a large centre of population, consequently it has grown to reach to the very edge of the retreat centre. It also has an airport. During ceremony at night you will never hear them, but in the morning and then throughout the day planes do fly over very low. Also local village life is right on the edge of the centre. The grounds are large, extensive and patrolled nightly by a security guard, so the only thing that disturbs your peace are the sounds of local music being played. You can hear this music during the ceremonies also, but once you’ve drunk the Ayahuasca, this will cease to matter!
The centre is moving soon, to a new location deeper into the jungle. This will be an incredible experience, but honestly, for a first time Ayahuasca experience the vast array of positives outweigh this small negative by a large margin. And in truth the grounds are a very beautiful sanctuary.
This place changes, even transforms, lives. That’s worth a noisy plane and a bit of poppy Spanish music.
Rating: Because it’s in natural jungle, which has medicinal plants and even has monkeys (small and large, though commonly only the small variety are seen) I give it 8/10 (-2, one for planes and one for poppy Spanish music).
And now at last, the final category:
What the participants have found essential is the Whatsapp group we formed amongst ourselves at the suggestion of the facilitators. Over a month later and even today someone is reaching out and receiving support as they work to integrate such a powerful experience of healing and of love into a world that may not seem so loving or healing.
Jill has said in interview that the real work with Ayahuasca isn’t in ceremony, it’s in the integration afterward. And this can be challenging. For some they’ve been in heaven, so regular life can seem a bit hellish. Jill and the staff try to help with integration by providing a follow-up email giving access to a vast collection of resources (many hours of Ayahuasca friendly music alone). Here is the text from that email, so you can feel the love and care they extend:
From all of us at Nimea Kaya, we wanted to send our deepest expression of gratitude to each one of you for coming to the retreat and doing such amazing healing work with Madre Ayahuasca! You all were an intricate piece in creating such a powerful group dynamic that made the healing work that much more powerful! We send our love & light with you as you go back into the world and continue on your path ahead! The processing and integration from the ceremonies will take it’s course gradually with you and the lessons and gifts will reveal themselves in divine timing. We are happy to support you in anyway as you move forward through this process. We are all in this together! Thank you again for having the courage to partake in such deep transformational healing work and taking your light out into the world. The ripple effect goes far beyond our knowing and will help bring so much more harmony and peace to our Mother Earth and humanity.
We recommend you read over the “Ayahuasca Integration Guide” linked above that includes tips for after care recommendations from your retreat with us. Please don’t hesitate to contact us anytime with questions, concerns or just needing someone to process with. We are here for you anytime! We are available via Skype for complimentary Integration sessions, just contact us to book.
Feel free to stay connected with us as well via our Facebook Page, Instagram and Youtube.
Thank you again & wishing all the best for each of you!
All of the Nimea Kaya Family 🙂
So there you go, out of 12 categories I have rated Nimea Kaya as 10/10 or better in 11 of those categories. So 118 out of 120. There are other retreat centres in Peru doing amazing work and I encourage you to feel into those also. This is what’s on offer at Nimea Kaya.
I suggest you use the categories above as a framework to assess any given retreat centre, and keep in mind that the most important of those categories are:
• Ceremonial space
So now you know what questions to ask to ensure you have the safest, most wonderful and most transformative experience possible.
Gracias Madre Ayahuasca, gracias Nimea Kaya, gracias Pachamama.