- Vilcabamba, Ecuador
The name Chakapita comes from a beautiful healing song that is sung by the Shaman during ceremonies. These songs are known as Ikaros. Chakapita is also the name of a plant that is used for cleaning auras and removal of negative energies.
Our retreat, Chakapita is a beautiful spiritual place which has been created with the intention to help people and introduce them to the spirit of power plants such as ayahuasca, huachuma and wilka for healing. We offer the opportunity to participate in ceremonies or attend retreats at our home location or to practice true ancestral ceremonies at sacred sites and archaeological ruins of great importance and potential energy in the south of Ecuador. We pride ourselves on the service and healing that is provided to our clients. During the retreats the Shaman is at hand for questions and help throughout the entire stay.
The sacred plant ceremonies at Chakapita are really traditional of South America. Our Shamans have a lot of experience and have come a long way in the spiritual world. We offer the ability to participate in ceremonies with Ecuadorian Indians from the Andes Mountains called the Saraguros and the Indians of the jungle known as the Shuar.
We offer ceremonies of:
Ayahuasca is a teacher plant with a feminine spirit, known as ?Grandmother Ayahuasca?. Sometimes we can experience the vision of a young or old woman, depending on the age of the plant that has been prepared. The spirit is in direct relationship with the wisdom of the snake. Visions of the jaguar or anaconda are common, as these are the sacred spirits of the forest, known to the natives as the Arutam. Ayahuasca is like a big snake that carries the memories of life. It is known as the vine of souls and has been used for thousands of years by the people of the Amazon to cure physical, mental and emotional illnesses by taking the participants on a journey to altered states of consciousness for healing. Like all power plants, the healing depends on the willingness of the participant to make the changes shown by the medicine, commitment to healing and the severity of the disease. It is also very important that a clean diet is followed whilst using this traditional medicine, to detoxify the physical body for true healing of the soul.
Wilka is considered to be the most sacred of all power plants. During the times of the Incas, Wilka was used as their sacred medicine. It was used only by the privileged class of the Incas and was not accessible to all people.
This female spirit presents herself as a young mother and has the virtues of curing terminal diseases and very strong addictions. The journey with Wilka offers the chance of rebirth by showing changes that are necessary in the life to become a better people. During a journey with Wilka, it is very common to see geometric visions, typical of a mathematics lesson! Reason being, the spirit of the plant is very precise and strict! Mama Wilka proposes a commitment to improve all aspects of our lives and this we can experience when we know the essence of true love.
Huachuma is a masculine spirit plant, also known as ahuacoya and San Pedro. Some people say that this name is related to the Apostle Peter, because he holds the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. This plant has been used by the Indians of the Andes of South America for millennia. The active ingredient is mescaline. The spirit of the grandfather Huachuma is very generous. Like all power plants, the journey depends very much on the current lifestyle and state of mind of the people participating. It is also very important that a clean diet is followed whilst using this traditional medicine, to detoxify the physical body for true healing of the soul.
I would not recommend this place. I stayed at Miguel’s place for almost two weeks and even though the place itself is very beautiful, I didn’t feel safe there at all. Miguel was always absent and didn’t take care of the retreat participants in a way they deserve. He didn’t really explain anything about the plant or about the ceremonies and because of the bad guidance and general atmosphere half of the guests (!!) decided to quit the retreat. I believe that these numbers speak for themselves. Miguel was not interested in talking about the situation either, he didn’t understand why people didn’t feel save or supported by him and didn’t even give participants who paid for a whole week, but had to quit it after two days, any money back. Later I also learned that he took advantage of volunteers when they were on medicine after they refused him sober. On top of that, he betrayed his girlfriend when she was on vacation, what lead to a very weird atmosphere when she came back, since everybody knew about it. That is neither professional, nor fair for his girlfriend or the participants. Furthermore, Miguel owns around 6 big dogs, most of them are German Shepards. One of them is deeply traumatized, always chasing his tail, and just not Master if his senses. Even though I appreciate the fact that Miguel tries to heal this dog, I didn’t feel save at a place where a mental dog is running around. Later, after having some disagreements with volunteers, Miguel even threatened one of the volunteers to put the dogs on her. From my perspective she didn’t do anything wrong, but asked a lot of questions about medicine and how to become a shaman, which just shows her interest in the place and Miguel’s work and shouldn’t be a reason for kicking her out and threatening her. But maybe she hit a sore spot, since Miguel never finished his shaman training. I don’t want to be unfair in any way, so I need to mention that Miguel never told me that himself, but the volunteers that were around (some of them for over a month). Moreover, Miguel asks the volunteers to pay a weekly fee of 30 dollars. Everybody who went to Ecuador before knows that there is no way to spend 30 dollars per week on casual food like pasta, rice, lentils, vegetables and fruits. After asking him if the volunteers could do the groceries by themselves, he denied it. I suspect that he does not use the money only for the volunteers food, but also for the food for the guests. I believe that Chakapita could be a very beautiful place, since the surrounding is simply amazing. But I don’t think that Miguel will ever be able to give participants the comfort and the security they need. His reputation in vilcabamba is also very bad, especially when it comes to how he treats women. My advise to all future participants: don’t go to this place. There are so many nice retreat places around Ecuador and Peru, look for a saver, more renowned and professional place where you can enjoy the whole magic of plant medicine in a safe environment with positive vibes !
When I first met Miguel at the Chakapita retreat center, I felt surprised not very comfortable. I had already booked a week long retreat and thought it would be hard to recoup my investment. I had some questions about the schedule and things we would be doing. He was displeased to receive these questions, annoyed and didn’t answer all of them. I was hesitant to continue on with the retreat. After a couple days and one ayahuasca evening session or ceremony, I left early. It did not feel like a safe space for me to be doing this work.
Gratefully, I have worked with plant medicine before and I know what it feels like to be in a respectful and safe environment where the space is well held. I wish that for everybody.
The grounds are very pretty. There are 5-7 dogs there. The dogs are loud and they bit someone. Unstable guard dogs don’t seem like a great fit for a healing retreat center. One runs in circles almost nonstop and seems traumatized. I don’t know what happened to them.
The volunteers who were to help throughout the week that I met there were very kind. I only felt disappointed that they were extremely new and did not know anything about the overall schedule or the plants or the surrounding area.
As I was leaving, I noticed Miguel smelled strongly of alcohol and his eyes were red. This made me feel like I made the right decision to exit the situation. He seems to be struggling with life in some ways and I wish him the best in his own healing journey. I don’t feel he is stable enough to be running a retreat center for other people necessarily.
The surrounding area of Vilcabamba is amazing! Chakapita is about a 30 minute drive away from there and it is not always easy to get transportation but it is possible at certain times.
There are many places to explore plant medicine around the world. I am so grateful that I have found other places that have helped on this path. I don’t recommend Chakapita or Miguel as a place or guide to my friends or family, but I wish them all peace in their journey towards wholeness.
I would not recommend this retreat center to others. I don’t consider it ideal or safe for women.
The shaman and manager of the site was disrespectful towards female volunteers and predatory towards me.
The dieta surrounding sex is not followed by Miguel. He had sex with me during a ceremony heavily under the influence after I refused him sober, and it was a terrible experience. He asked me to lie about this so that his girlfriend was not surprised or angered.
When I told Miguel I didn’t want that with him at first, I really thought he understood and would respect it. I also felt some sense of safety in numbers since there was a small, caring group participating in the ceremonies together. Ultimately, he got me away from the group during ceremony to grope and have sex with me.
I was really surprised by the experience because of positive reviews I read about this place.
Besides these gross boundary violations, there is other evidence of financial exploitation. He asks volunteers at the center to pay money for “their food” each week which actually covers food for an entire household or retreat for the whole week. He told me he lost a lot of his money and is trying to make it back. He does this by selling retreats to foreigners and by taking foreign volunteers who pay. Whereas, it would be more appropriate to have reliable people in the local economy cook and clean.
The only positive is the physical site itself–picturesque, beautiful and everything you could hope for regarding a natural environment.
After going through all this, I learned that Miguel has a *very* poor reputation in the surrounding community for the way that he interacts with women and other reasons. I wish I would have known this before turning up there.
I feel obligated to write this review to protect other unsuspecting people who would go here for any reason, especially women who might have unwanted advances and experiences as I did.