Calca, Cusco, Perú
I went to Sapan Inka for a 5 day retreat including 2 Ayahuasca ceremonies, one San Pedro ceremony and the Machu Piccu tour at the end. I am a 35 year-old American woman. I am a hard-evidence, skeptical kind of person, not a spiritual person.
Eric acted as the primary “shaman” figure, at least partially because he speaks reasonable English where Nilda does not, although they both clearly have their roles in the retreat. They are both very conscientious and professional in every aspect of their approach to this experience. Eric informs you of every detail of your somewhat strict schedule, answers all questions and reviews your thoughts and experiences at numerous points throughout the week in one-on-one interviews and during the ceremonies. While they both are clearly dedicated spiritualists, Eric is refreshingly clinical in his approach to interpreting and integrating your experience. He makes himself available before, during and after the retreat to help you along. He is obviously experienced and equally obviously works to improve himself at every opportunity, from both a psychological perspective and a service-oriented business perspective.
They are a very dedicated couple and address every angle of this experience between the two of them. This is a whole body/mind wellness retreat, not a drug experience. You are encouraged to meditate, write and otherwise process your journey alone. You are not entertained, there is no wifi or even board games. Your food is simple and healthy and served to you as-is…i.e. no menu or alternative options. The accommodations are clean and comfortable, but not luxurious by American standards. Eric and Nilda are friendly but distant. I’m not sure how much of that was a language barrier, but I firmly believe it is a deliberate choice on their part. If you are looking for a magical experience that leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy, go somewhere else. If you are looking for an opportunity to affect real personal growth and are prepared to put in a lot of work before, during and after this experience, then I highly recommend this retreat.
A few notes:
While the food was simple, it was tasty. I made a pest of myself getting one of Nilda’s soup recipes.
The area where the retreat is located, which is their home, is beautiful. The San Pedro hike was one of the highlights of the experience for me because there was so much to see and learn. Incidentally, I felt the most engaged with Eric and Nilda during this hike. They seemed to love nature and sharing Peru’s bounty as much as I wanted to soak it in.
In my personal opinion, I feel that Ayahuasca is a tool, not a solution in and of itself. I wish I had prepared a more specific goal for myself instead of keeping my mind open to whatever came up with some nebulous ideas floating around. I also wish I could have stayed longer to do a few more ceremonies. As much as they aren’t really enjoyable, I feel like I barely scratched the surface of what I could’ve learned and would have happily done more.
I’m glad I followed the diet the month before going on the retreat. It seemed like the people who didn’t had a much harder time and didn’t get as much out of it.
I felt safe and secure at all times, despite being pretty nervous. They know what they’re doing.
The Macchu Picchu tour was very well planned by Eric and Nilda. Their guide was excellent. Honestly, as much as I want to be awed by history and whatnot, I’m much more likely to get bored and learn nothing. The guide was interesting and passionate about the site, I am very thankful for the experience.