We are an ayahuasca retreat healing center, operating as a lodge in the Amazon rainforest. We are located 90 minutes outside of Iquitos, Peru near the small village of Llanchama along the Nanay River.
We provide traditional Shipibo medicine services wich includes: healing and learning diets, master plant medicine, and traditional Shipibo ayahuasca ceremonies.
Once you are here, you will meet with our shaman master healer Ricardo Amaringo, and with the asistance of a profesional translator, you can explain him your intention for the healing procces.
Your treatment will then be tailored to your personal needs, often including further treatment with a master plant. Furthermore, in traditional style, you will then adhere to a strict healing diet developed to promote the healing work of the curanderos and our medicinal plants.
Once on the diet, you will be invited to participate in ayahuasca ceremonies four times a week, for further ceremonial healing under the guidance of Ricardo and his assistants shamans. In ceremony, you will be further treated by the curanderos through the traditional healing song, called icaros.
The day after every ayahuasca ceremony, with the exception of Fridays, there is a group discussion led by Ricardo to review experiences in the ceremony and the progress of all of our participants, apprentices and visitors.
In some cases, further treatment techniques are also indicated, including healing plant preparations for bathing and vapor treatment, or cataplasm.
Traditional treatment requires time, so visitors are encouraged to visit us for one week or more. Group programs are often designed for 10 days or 2 weeks and more advanced treatment can take one/two months or longer.
For particular individuals, we also offer traditional diets for learning under the guidance of Ricardo. This level of training is best discussed in person with Ricardo himself.
We charge an all-inclusive daily fee for our services, which covers transport from the Iquitos airport, private room, modern bathrooms and showers, diet meals, laundry service, electricity, wifi internet, traditional medicine and experienced international facilitator staff support.
If you are interested in visiting, please email us to establish contact and verify availability at our center. From that point, we can plan your visit!
Before coming to Nihue Rao, I had a lot of hopes for this place after reading Joe Tafur’s book called The Fellowship of the River, I thought I’m finally going to have a real shaman look at me and help me heal, so I opened up to them, telling them my most private issues that I was dealing with at the time thinking Ricardo and his shamans will be able to provide more effective healing if I tell them everything about myself. I also told them about my deep emotional traumas and how there is a high chance of me acting out dramatically during the ceremonies to let out repressed emotions held up over many years of living with social anxiety and depression.
When I first came to Nihue Rao, I could immediately intuit something was not right about the place, the people who did dietas there seemed downtrodden and the staff wasn’t meeting me with friendly open arms and hugs and they definitely didn’t radiate love, the whole vibe was just depressing and this isn’t what I expected from all the glowing reviews I’ve heard about this place and how Ricardo was the master shaman being able to heal people with his 40+ years experience. Despite having this intuition, I just kinda ignored it, thinking that I had too many great expectations for the place.
First ceremony: Ricardo comes in the maloka wearing sportsware and a baseball cap, it’s just another day at the office for him, he sits at his shamanic spot and shortly after starts yawning, falls asleep and starts snoring loudly. All the while people are casually being called to come up and have their drink of Ayahuasca. Okay fine I think to myself, I guess we don’t need any of the “ceremonial formalities” and the shaman doesn’t need to wear his shipibo clothes, casual comfortable clothing will do….
My experience during the ceremony can be described as chaotic because all 6 or so shamans sing their icaros at the same time which sounds like an orchestra missing a conductor, so it can be very difficult to tune yourself to any of the icaros as they tend to blend in. Also with so many people in the maloka (around 25) and all the shamans singing their icaros, the energy can quickly get very overwhelming and I don’t see how they can provide individual help when so much is going on. When I was struggling during one of the ceremonies, with my ego completely dissolving, none of the shamans offered their help, they didn’t come to me to sign icaros or offer their guidance.
When the third ceremony was officially over, I was still feeling the effects and I started having some break throughs, purging and roaring which I felt like were very healing for me because I was releasing a lot of repressed emotions, including anger. At this time, I personally asked Ricardo to continue singing icaros to me, which he did and I’m thankful for that. However, the next day, I was called to speak with Ricardo, and in short, I was told that I was disturbing the pasajeros (other people in the maloka), I told them the ceremony was already over at the time I started having my purges, but they still insisted that I was disturbing people who already went to sleep. I was left confused after this, am I not allowed to purge and express my repressed emotions? How am I to heal myself when I’m told to keep quiet, even after the ceremony is over? I thought this was the whole point of coming to the wild jungle, where I would be able to release some of the wild energies I have repressed for a long time (like many, if not all of us do). When speaking about this during one of the shared talks, I was basically scoffed at and even ridiculed by Martina, telling me something like “you should keep the wild beast to yourself”.
My “wild beast” didn’t want to have any of this though, and it would try to release itself on a few more occasions and they kept telling me I’m scaring and disturbing other people and I’m not allowed to behave in such ways. I kept telling them, this is the whole point of me coming here blah blah blah…..so this drama would continue, until one night, during one of the ceremonies, I openly started telling them how I felt, which only lasted like 1 minute. During this time, apparently many of the pasajeros got scared during my speech, I think it’s because I was speaking with my natural, confident and powerful voice. The next day, all the shamans had a meeting with me in the “creative/arts tambo” and shared what they thought about my absolutely inappropriate behavior, I felt like I was a school boy being ridiculed and scolded by teachers. I was told the same thing about scaring pasajeros and inappropriate loud behavior…..
From my experience, this center cares more about money than real healing, they have a lot of people coming in every week and they try not to go too deep in people’s issues, because that entails a lot more work. Despite many of the glowing reviews here (a lot of which are one paragraph and seem to be fake) I would advise anybody seeking real healing to avoid this place and look for people that genuinely care about healing you on the deepest level, I also recommend looking for a smaller place with 5-6 people in the group at a time and make sure you’ll be able to express yourself in whichever way you want. Being told to keep your mouth shut and not to be loud during your most emotional moments in your life, while you’re in the wild jungle is too ridiculous.
A few years ago I was singing ayahuasca’s praises. It seemed like a miracle that something so powerful and life-changing could exist. I did my first ayahuasca ceremonies at Nihue Rao, got some powerful icaros and went back home feeling completely transformed, energized and like life was a clean slate. Then I came back to Nihue Rao a second time because I knew I needed more work on myself. This time it was very different, and one ceremony in particular went bad. Ricardo said they had trouble dealing with some of the heavier energies that night. He said I would feel better the next day. However, I felt sad the entire rest of the week there and couldn’t shake it off. One of the staff suggested I contact a coach who charged over $200 per session. I went home feeling disconnected from life and feeling extremely suicidal for the next three months due to whatever had infected my energy field. There was no support, nobody I could get help from for this.
Sure, ayahuasca is some powerful stuff. I get why people are so enchanted by it. The visions are powerful and the icaros can lead to some powerful healing. However, ayahuasca is a double edged sword. And it’s the spiritual equivalent of playing with knives. It’s also one of the most spiritually dirty healing modalities that exists. You are in a space with up to 20 or more people, all of whom are completely opened up energetically, so any negative juju is free to come in or out.
It’s not just me who’s been affected. I know others who have also had bad and even traumatizing results, or at the very least whose healing was just temporary.
There are much more effective and safer spiritual modalities out there if you are looking for healing or spiritual growth. Fortunately I found powerful healing that helped me more in 6 months than 18 ayahuasca ceremonies did in one year. It didn’t cost nearly as much and didn’t involved terrifying, confusing and senseless visions and purges. So, this isn’t just a review for Nihue Rao but for ayahuasca in general. Just know that if you do ayahuasca there are some real risks.
A few years ago I went on my first Aya journey with authentic, good-souled individuals in Ecuador. They were not infected with the disease of greed. Greed is insidious and every shaman needs to guard against the temptation to make it about themselves. Good shamans don’t ask for much money. Joe [last name removed by request] (former co-owner) and Ricardo are two of the many who have made the spiritual journey into a business. It is not that they don’t also have pure motivations. I think they do. However, when one is without absolute humility and integrity when approaching the spiritual world, the door is opened to problematic energy coming in. I believe that is what has happened at Nihue Rao. Joe and the shamans are helping themselves to money and adulation from those who have good journeys. Not everyone is so lucky all the time. Myself and at least two others I know walked away from Nihue Rao being harmed, not helped. Those two people called Joe to voice their concerns, but he was and is too self-absorbed to take any responsibility. Instead he tried to promote his book. I was attracted to Nihue Rao because of the fact that a Western medical doctor was affiliated and I am somewhat partial to a middle way between medicine and mysticism. I didn’t feel any strong draw towards it, just cerebrally I computed it was safe. About 2 weeks before I was to go I saw Ricardo’s face in dream with a message that woke me up. It was that he was a scheister. I dismissed it as being out of fear or self-sabotage. After a couple weeks at Nihue Rao, I mostly trusted Ricardo and his staff. However, that turned out to be my undoing, as I later had premonitions that I shouldn’t drink anymore. A staff member talked me into continuing, to be macho. He said the premonitions were because of my “sins” and that the dark energies were trying to stop me from cleansing everything. I continued and had darker and darker and darker visions and occurrences, culminating in a trip to hell and what appeared to be an invitation into dark shamanism. I told Ricardo, but he did not show an overwhelming amount of compassion or concern or any direction on what to do next. The night of the very bad trip, I wasn’t the only one who suffered. Ricardo admitted the next day that he had forgotten to cleanse the Maloka and that some dark energy had gotten in. I called a Ecuadorian shaman who I know to be very psychically connected the next day. He knew things about the Maloka that night, such as the fact there were no women. He said the shamans weren’t doing their jobs, and that I had been attacked by Black Magic. He urged me to leave. I did, and found I could barely function psychologically, and for a time I slept only 1.5 hours per night. I had PTSD and was terrified of life. I was only a shell of who I had been before, having literally lost pieces of myself. I lost compassion and the connection to my heart. I had no more faith in God and I felt like I wanted to die. Things fell apart in my life very rapidly. I have gotten a lot back, but it has been the most painful year of my life. Therefore, please… before you go here or anywhere else, know that this is very strong stuff and that you will be encountering the spriritual world for better or worse. It used to be that only Shamans took Aya, not the patient. The shaman had years of training. You don’t. Places like Nihue Rao are akin to some place that gives the keys to a jet airplane to an untrained teenager. With luck some learn to fly, and others are seriously harmed. If you must get a shamanic experience fine, but don’t go to any of the Aya factories in Iquitos. Follow your heart and best instincts and find a shaman who has less ego.
I came to Nihue Rao for one week.
I was experienced with Aya and other plant medicine.
I got a very dusty bunk, with holes in the bed sheet, and dozens of dead bugs. That didn’t feel very welcoming. It took over 24 hours to get the room cleaned up.
One of the shamans touched my buttocks during a ceremony.
I informed Ricardo (the head shaman) in the morning. He didn’t bother to respond.
I heard that shaman was sexually violating more women, and was fired at some point. Too bad it took them so long to acknowledge the harmful behavior.
To me, they kept on saying it didn’t happen, that it’s all in my imagination.
On the whole, the energy there felt terrible, very dark, full of ego.
I recommend to go elsewhere, to a place with strong ethics and integrity.
When you are in a ceremony, you are extremely vulnerable. Make sure you go to a safe place – physically, emotionally, sexually, spiritually.
Nihue Rao was none of those.