- Iquitos, Peru
We are the Otorongo Center, a locally-owned traditional plant medicine and Ayahuasca healing center in Iquitos, Peru. Disheartened by our neighbors selling their land to logging operations, our project emerged to facilitate transformative healing and prove a sustainable and responsible ownership model.
The Otorongo Center is owned by the Perez family and the land has been in our family for more than three generations. We work with a renowned Shipibo Shaman, Maestra Mary Juliana.
A 7 Day Experience at the Otorongo Center costs $475 and a 14 day Experience costs $950. This allows us to generously pay our Shipibo Shaman, our cook, our maintenance and security crew, as well as purchase food for our clients.
Our ethos focuses on Safety, Affordability, Efficiency and Sustainability:
Safe- We screen our clients before accepting them into our retreat. We look at medical records and make sure there are no potentially dangerous medicinal combinations with Ayahuasca or Kambo. Furthermore, we have emergency protocols in place at the Center (Gratefully we have never had to utilize them), which include having a vehicle on site as well as a facilitator who could transport a client in duress to the hospital in Iquitos.
Affordable- At $475 for a 7 day experience, we are less than half that of most foreign-owned centers, while still providing a higher quality experience. We feel that these greed-fueled exorbitant prices ironically cheapen the Ayahuasca experience.
Sustainable- We purchase our food from local farmers and take clients to visit their land in order to more deeply connect with our food source. And most importantly, at the end of every retreat we replant Ayahuasca on our land. We have the honor to act as stewards for this medicine and thus have the responsibility to protect it.
Efficient- We work with a Shipibo healer who has been studying the medicine for more than 2 decades. Many believe that Ayahuasca is a feminine energy, and we feel the same- which is why we have chosen to work with a respected Female Shipibo Shaman, Mary Juliana.
Simply the best Ayahuasca center I can imagine. I stayed here in late December, supposedly at peak rainy season and it was still sublimely beautiful. The other guests were mostly from Europe, but graciously accepted an American like myself who hasn’t done much traveling outside the states. Guido picked me up from the airport and dropped me off at no extra charge. That alone was an indication of the great week I had in store! Each ceremony was different, with varying degree of difficulty based on the dosage size. The first ceremony was the lowest dose, an introductory dose as they said. This initial dose induced strong visions and sense of oneness, but I felt I could go deeper. I spoke with the Shaman and agreed that next time I wanted a stronger dose. Boy did I get it LOL. My next ceremony led me to a different dimension, healing and delighting me along the way. The third ceremony was the largest dose and I used the opportunity to address a specific intention that I had discussed with Luke. The combination of the large, strong dose and specific intention led to a difficult and simultaneously transformative ceremony. The only parallel I can draw is that of the Phoenix. I have risen from my ashes (Thank you for that Metaphor, Luke!).
They went above and beyond any reasonable expectation to give me the best treatment possible. I was sick and in need of treatment so I reached out to the otorongo looking for help. Even though they were closed for the holidays they still gave me a room, food, and treatment attention. I was desperate and they saw that and came through for me. I am so appreciative. I went to the center for gastrointestinal issues. The team worked together to find a plant that would work for me and I dieted the plant. My time at the center ended with the most beautiful ayahuasca ceremony I can imagine. The songs of the shaman filled the space like flying birds and I gave my body a much needed cleansing. I still don’t know whether it was the Diet or the ayahuasca or some sort of placebo effect but my stomach issues have disappeared. Thank you Otorongo for everything.
I booked a week long stay at the Otorongo Center in mid November. Not knowing what to expect I showed up in Iquitos nervous and anxious. Maybe writing this can help some people prepare for their stay in Iquitos and have an idea of what to expect. If the post is too long for you the short version is: It was a very positive experience in a beautiful place that gave me what I was looking for but isn’t for people looking for a luxury time in the jungle.
Here’s my play by play: My pickup was at a restaurant in Iquitos. I was expecting an airport pickup and was kind of disappointed I had to travel into the city for my pickup. In fairness, I misread the pickup email and booked my arrival flight outside the times that the center does direct airport pickup. So, my bad. The team did drop me off at the airport for my departure flight and even waited around with me while my flight was delayed, which I surely appreciated. Pickup was by Guido and his translator, a lovely Argentinian woman who spoke great English. I handed them my money within five minutes of meeting them. I guess they wanted to get that out of the way. I arrived at the meeting point, a restaurant in the city, 30 minutes early and had an okay lunch at the restaurant. It was nice to sit and have WiFi for a little bit near the main town square after my long flight. I was expecting a car ride as transport, but apparently there aren’t many cars in Iquitos and most of the transport is done by Tuc Tuc. A little bit of a bumpy ride but I tried to be positive and think of it as all part of the adventure! It was a 20 minute tuc tuc ride before we got to the boat owned by the center. After we got off the boat, I elected to walk through the jungle to the center, about a 15 minute walk. My first impression was, wow we are really off grid here, nothing around but animals and trees- a little nerve wracking but just what I wanted. I was blown away by the beautiful and thoughtful design of the campground. The other reviews weren’t kidding when they said the only thing you hear are the birds and the frogs. Definitely an A+ for facilities. I knew going in that the center was off grid, and I wanted a place without WiFi or electricity. When my phone died during the week, (as I was using it to take pictures and because I forgot my flashlight) Guido offered to take it to his house and charge it for me. Very accommodating. When we got to the center we had a welcome meeting of sorts, introducing the group to the center and that kind of thing. The first night we each had a one on one meeting with the Shaman. Well, the translator was there too to help those of us who don’t speak Spanish, so it wasn’t really one on one I guess. This meeting made me feel much more comfortable. The Shaman’s sense of humor and gentle nature immediately made me feel at ease. I don’t want to go to in depth with the ceremonies. The ceremonies start at evening and end around midnight, I got help walking to the bathroom and I had a personalized attention from the Shaman with tobacco. It was beautiful. The songs from the Shaman were unexpected, but played an important part in my trip. I didn’t have any visions the first night which apparently isn’t uncommon for newcomers to Ayahuasca. But the second two ceremonies involved visions and purging. Good thing the bathroom is close by (lol). All my Ayahuasca ceremonies were tough, but beautiful and gave me what I needed. I woke up the morning after my second ceremony and cried for an hour. Not tears of sadness but cathartic tears. Good tears, if that makes sense. The Shaman saw me crying and we had a nice conversation during breakfast. The food was DELICIOUS. Fresh fruit, delicious cooked veggies and rice. And all natural and healthy. It made me want to cook at home (I never cook haha). I have to say though, that by the end of the week, I was ready to have crunchy, salty, very salty French fries. I went to the center to do inside work, I didn’t go to make friends. But I have to say, the other guests made the experience. The late nights sitting up late talking, drinking Chamomile tea out of the white mugs. You’ll know what I mean if you go. I made great friendships and deep, deep connections. The group made the experience 100% My time at the center was great. I’ve been home for a little while, and looking back at my pictures from the center still makes me smile and has given me a peace that will never leave me. I got what I needed. It’s a small family operation in a rustic environment. It’s very clearly a locally owned operation. The one thing to look out for- there is no electricity at the center. I wanted that kind of rustic thing but I get why people would want more luxury comforts. If you go to the center, I would definitely recommend that you bring a good flashlight, high boots if you want to do jungle walks, and make sure you voice your needs. If you want more food, ask. If you want another pillow, just ask. Don’t be shy.
Io e la mia amica Grazia abbiamo passato due settimane meravigliose nel centro. Gli aspetti positivi sono stati la natura pura e libera, il cibo semplice e gustoso, la preparazione e l’accoglienza delle guide e dello sciamano, la purezza e forza della medicina, locali puliti comodi e attrezzati. Abbiamo veramente lasciato il cuore in questo pezzo di paradiso. Grazie grazie grazie
Me and my friend Grazia spent two wonderful weeks in the center. The positive aspects were pure and free nature, simple and tasty food, the preparation and reception of guides and the shaman, the purity and strength of medicine, clean and comfortable clean rooms. We truly left the heart in this piece of paradise. Thank you thank you thank
I was supposed to spend one week at the Otorongo centre in October. Unfortunately me and other participants left after the first ceremony.
I expressed my interest in taking part in the retreat about a month before it was supposed to start. I completed the medical form and was invited to participate. I was still hesitating and looking for other options, but about three weeks before the retreat suddenly got an email from Luke that if I don’t send 50% of the total by Western Union now, my place would be given to someone else. Well, form what other participants told me apparently at that time only one more person expressed their interest in taking part in the same retreat.
The two of us who arrived together we were asked the rest of he money just before the ceremony. Guido appeared in our rooms just when we were heading to the maloca. That’s not the best moment I would say, but the two other participants were asked for it just after crossing the river, without even reaching the Otorongo Centre apparently.
The ayahuasca brew they served caused nothing but whole body shaking and a very painful purge, which lasted for hours, in all four participants, . There were some dark visions like behind a dark veil attached to it and no feelings at all. The strange thing was that all of us had the same experiences, which is something unusual for ayahuasca. When I accused them of adding toé to the brew, they denied it.
There was no communication at all with the owners or the “shaman” unless you spoke Spanish. I do speak some. Here is my conversation with the “shaman” on the next day: “Why did all of us have the same experiences?”, answer: “I don’t know.” “Can you tell a bit about your experience?” Shaman: “I have seen a big colourful bird above all of us.” “But can you maybe tell a bit about ourselves? How do you see us?” (Well, this is why we all go all the way down to Peru, isn’t it?), answer: “You are good people.”
In terms of facilities, I did not really expect internet connection of any type there, but I thought I would be able to charge my phone in order to take some photos, use the torch or read the books I had downloaded before. Unfortunately, no such an option was provided.
After we left, I received an email from Otorongo Centre happily announcing the they had fired the old “shaman” and now they have a new one. Well, what does it have to do with me? I lost lots of money for the retreat and the flight ticket from London and back. I asked the for a partial refund of $200, but received no reply from them.
Overall, it was a bad experience. I would not recommend retreats at Otorongo Centre to anyone, especially if you come from far away. Don’t be deceived by the price. One can say :”You get what you pay for.” Well, you don’t get even that.
I can prove the review is honest and accurate by showing email exchange with Luke and WhatsApp conversation with other participants.