Listed in Ayahuasca
- Manacamiri, Iquitos Peru
The Kapitari Center was founded in 1980, by the shaman Luis Culquiton, widely known as Don Lucho.
Don Lucho comes from a long line of natural healers, but he discovered the healing qualities of plants himself, at a very early age; he drank ayahuasca for the first time at age 16. He soon discovered the power of the plants and felt a calling, which he describes as “the legacy of my ancestors.”
In 1980, at age 30, Don Lucho was an established, self-educated shaman. This is when the spirit of ayahuasca called on him to work with the plants, to help protect the incredible biodiversity of the Peruvian Amazon and indeed to save the world; “Up until that moment, I had not been very concerned about the forest. Then I said; ‘How can I save the world? I have no education, I don’t know anything.’ But I started to learn from the plants. I was told by the plant spirits what their qualities were, whether it was for food, as medicine, or even as fertilizer to add nutrients to the soil.”
Don Lucho developed a new way of agriculture, which is very similar to what has become known as ‘permaculture’ in the West. Traditionally, Amazon farmers would burn down a part of the forest and plant only one or two crops on their fields. But the soil quality is poor in the Amazon and they would soon have to abandon their fields, repeating the process of ‘slash and burn’, slowly destroying the rainforest.
By planting up to a hundred different plant species on the land, Don Lucho recreates the balance of the rainforest, which sustains its own existence. This way, the farmers’ fields remain fertile indefinitely, removing the need to ‘slash and burn’ and even returning wasteland to the rainforest, where it can be reintegrated.
One of the main sources of funding for the Kapitari projects is through our Ayahuasca retreats. Unlike many of the Ayahuasca retreat centers in Peru, Kapitari is not owned or controlled by westerners, but by Peruvians for the benefit of Peruvians.
Don Lucho’s main objective is to share his knowledge, expertise and experience with whomever can benefit from it. He promotes the exchange of seeds and saplings, which he grows at Kapitari and invites people from throughout the Amazon and the world to come learn and share through his ‘Field School’.
I’ll start with the good. Kapitari is absolutely gorgeous – the grounds are beautiful, with several ponds and pretty secluded tambos. It was great to be able to have so much time to sit and think about things, while being so deep in nature.
The food was very good too. I’ve been to other retreat centers, and the food at Kapitari is much much better than the others that I’ve been to. Don Lucho has a permaculture project going where he grows all sorts of fruits and vegetables, so there was a nice variety of food.
Now to the bad – the medicine there is very weak – like almost zero chacruna. I understand that they emphasize healing over visuals, and I get that – I wasn’t going just to trip out, but I did want to feel something. Most nights, I was just sitting on the mat, feeling absolutely nothing. Most of the people in our group felt the same way and were very disappointed to have saved all of the money and traveled so far to not really experience Ayahuasca. I had requested more when I went up to drink, but Don Lucho would not let us have more than a “grande” shot. I would take the second shot when it was offered which is really hard to do because of how sick the first drink made me, but even with the first “grande” and second shot – nothing. I’m fairly experienced with Aya (20 times) so I don’t think that I was expecting anything unrealistic – their brew there is just really weak.