- Sacred Valley, Peru
We are lucky to live in a time where the opportunity to travel and experience the ancient wisdoms of the far corners of the world has never been so possible. Through this physical travel we are able to travel and explore our inner self.
To think that the knowledge and wisdom of the sacred plants medicines can be reached with such ease never ceases to astound.
At Spirit Plant Journeys we specialise in creating the the opportunity and containment for people to find the place, space and opportunity to expand their consciousness and understanding to whichever intention or condition they come with.
We endevour to do this with respect for the sacred plant medicines Ayahuasca the Vine of Death and San Pedro (wachuma), with respect towards the people of Peru, and with a deep respect for the individual path of healing and understanding of the people who join for the journey.
There is no such thing as rules in the way we work, instead respect and integrity for each one of us. Each one of our stories each one of our rituals, beliefs, intentions and personalities is respected.
There will be no hierarchy in relationships as we believe we are each on our own unique path of understanding and healing.
Healing and understanding are not things we seek or pay for. It is a happening. It is something that takes place. Our intention is to provide the necessary tools, mediums and environment to trigger that and allow real inner work to happen.
There is also the ancestral connection we want to leave space for.
This is as much as an introduction for people to start their relationship with the medicine, as an opportunity for others to continue their intention or work with the medicine. We believe that for those willing to take an inner vision quest the medicine provides, and it provides what is needed at the perfect time. We wish to share this and create the opportunity for you to gather your own experience with the medicine.
Healing and understanding is not something that can be measured, or planned. It is a path to walk, a prayer to hold, and a vision to walk into. It is about understanding and unraveling layers of reality in order for us to experience our own truth and healing each on our own unique path.
Our intentions are as follows:
– We aspire to provide an experience of creative and spiritual growth.
– We endevour to create a space of openess, tolerance and freedom in a context of support and sharing.
– We aim to provide a sutainable experience in which all involved can benefit.
– We rufuse to continue the global trend of profiteering at the expense of others and thus we are adamantly fair trade.
– We open our arms to people of all ages, cultural backgrounds and belief systems.
I attended a retreat in August 2017. It was slap bang in the middle of a 6 months travel sabbatical I had embarked on in South America and it was the perfect half way mark for me in so many ways.
What I love about these ceremonies and retreats is on day 1 you meet with the group for the first time, you make your assumptions and judgement as we humans do and you start out as a bunch of strangers. The trip to the Valley from Cusco via the weavers with a very enthusiastic and bubbly Dani was a good start to what would be a wonderful adventure.
From the moment we arrived at the most exquisite setting of Petra and after meeting Neils and Bernhard, I knew I was in the right place at the right time.
One of the things I noticed was the attention to detail. The small little things to aid us on our not always so easy and pleasant journeys. The beautiful grounds, relaxation areas and quiet areas we could retreat to were scattered around aplenty. There was always someone to talk to or a little nook you could hideaway in to gather yourself. The kitchen wizards and their healthy and hearty Aya style food were perfectly suited to keep us nourished for our 10 days. I will never forget the delicious morning banana pancakes!
The ceremonies were a wonderful balance of solemnity, reverence, lightness, and fun. There is a beautiful freedom to be yourself within the temple and the after ceremony fruit, nuts and yucca stick chats is one of the best things I can remember. Gume is an incredibly powerful magician, so humble, so wise beyond his years yet he retains his childlike youthfulness. He is very caring for each and every person in the room, nothing is too much trouble for him and before, during and after each of the 4 ceremonies, the one on one “counselling” is hugely beneficial and always incredibly accurate.
Cool Neils and the beautiful Sara were not what I was expecting at all and in saying so, they were so much more than I could have ever asked for. Both so grounded, so human, so talented in various ways, so fun and so caring and compassionate. These are the kind of folks you want to be spiritual with. I was lucky enough to share a home with a couple who were staying there on a more long term basis, Sharmaine and Jin and they were incredibly gracious hosts, adding to the fun and family feel to the retreat. I felt like I was among good friends and I could be free and myself at all times.
The group I was privileged enough to be a part of, was a perfect mix of all I needed to mirror that which I had to heal within myself. These gatherings never turn out to be by chance and I hold each and every one of them close to my heart. All initial judgement and assumptions fly out the window, leaving only a deep sense of love, understanding and compassion. The feelings you share after true and deep connection. Something I feel we have lost as a species, especially in the West. How wonderful to find a place where we can come together as a community and share these experiences. What we shared and saw and felt together was pure magic. Even the head bumping, crying, laughing, freaking out, purging and whatever else happened was just perfect for each of our healing.
The added extras Spirit Plant Journeys offers are just the sprinkled nuts on top of the ice-cream. The trips to the ruins, walks to the waterfall, the daily yoga classes, the massage and even for those who wanted, a trip to the famed Machu Picchu, was a wonderful way to really immerse oneself in the group dynamic, the culture and to deeply feel and connect with the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
The way it was setup for the 10 days with 1 San Pedro and 4 Aya ceremonies, with much needed breaks in between was the perfect container for full and complete healing.
I trusted Dani, Neils, Sara and Gume with my whole heart and soul and even though it was tough at times, it was worth every shudder at the thought of swallowing that potent brew, the food sacrifices, the money, the time and the difficulties faced within the journeys.
I arrived at the retreat on the 1 Aug with a bunch of strangers and whole lot to heal and I left on the 10th August feeling part of an extraordinary family with my head, heart, body, mind and soul all in alignment. It was the most free and at peace I have ever felt in all my waking adult life, and boy was it a wondrous feeling.
I am inspired, deeply touched and in awe of these individuals who would go out of their way, make enormous and selfless sacrifices, putting themselves physically, mentally and spiritual on the line for us, a bunch of strangers, so that we can heal and transform so that we may be the best versions of ourselves. The only ulterior motive I feel they could possibly have, is that we take the joy, light and peace we were shown we had forgotten we had within us, out into the world, for others to see and feel.
So I thank the team at SPJ for allowing me to find my peace, joy and true happiness and for bringing the GRANADILLA into our lives every night. The fruit of a 1000 eyes, which brought us so much joy. I shall forever be grateful and hope 1 day I can return to again experience the KALEIDOSCOPE PANIC ATTACK!
My husband and I attended a retreat with Spirit Plant Journeys, in late 2014. It exceeded our expectations and was the perfect container for us to explore Ayahuasca and San Pedro in a comfortable, calm, and respectful environment. Gumercindo led powerful and focused ceremonies, and Neils and Sarah helped us feel cared for and looked after in the most nurturing way. Bernhard’s San Pedro ceremonies were the highlight for both me and my husband. We came primarily to work with Ayahuasca but were taken by the profound beauty and rapture that San Pedro offered. We really appreciated Neils’ and Sarah’s extensive experience with Plant medicines. Their dedication was a reminder to us that this work is a journey, a process and not a panacea. Three years later, I still have dreams about our time there, and my husband and I are hoping to returning soon to the Sacred Valley. If you are looking for a balanced and genuine experience of working with Plant medicines, in a beautiful and sacred place, then we can’t recommend Spirit Plant Journeys enough.
Come alone or with a friend or loved one, and you’ll magically create a new family through the ayahuasca experience, nestled in the womb of Mother Earth, Sacred Valley, Peru.
Physical review– Safe, clean, well-managed, personal chef, cleaning provided daily, yoga + massage offered, hikes, group visits to Incan sites, Veg-friendly Cafe 5 minute walk away
Spiritual review– It was my first time to Peru as well with working with plant medicines in August 2017. The care and attention from Neils’ prior to the retreat was incredible. The year leading up to my trip, I was able to email with Neils’ regarding any questions, he was there guiding even before any of the medicine healing happened!
Spirit Plant Journeys is a genuine, kind and supportive retreat. Neils and Sarah built the retreat through love and trust. They are the most down to earth duo! Any topic of interest you’d like to discuss or if you wanna laugh and see humour around you or if you need to slow down and get serious, these two offer the most versatile support, company and conversations. (including the 10 other wonderful people on my retreat) 4 Ayahuasca ceremonies and 1 San Pedro.
Gume is a powerful shaman, within him is so much love surrounded by strength. He guides every person in ceremony to understand the resistance in our lives and to let the medicine clean/clear/heal. Sharing circles were provided through the journey to help us integrate and process, as well guide intention for our inner-work.
If you’re looking for an intimate, genuine and safe experience Spirit Plant Journeys is the one! Words honestly cannot fit in this review how grateful I am to have done this retreat!!
If you are reading this, you are reviewing where to go for an Ayahuasca ceremony. That is to be applauded because attending any Ayahuasca ceremony is a brave move. So where will you go? To me, it was important to be in Peru, not somewhere else. But a comfortable environment is also important to me. And a sense of confidence for the facilitators and most importantly finding the best sjaman was on top of the priority list.
Important because your experience with ayahuasca must be guided and protected by the best. Ayahuasca is a starting point to heal and find a better equilibrium. Healing of physical, mental or emotional issues can bring you in dark places and that is . . good! The most darkest moments will enable the most enlightened moments. The more dark you can heal, the more light will reveal itself to you and the middle point, the equilibrium is found. That is the path to wisdom. Stay in either the light or the dark and you have lost. You must face and know the dark and do the shadow work to become sovereign. But in those dark moments you want to be in the accompany of people that care for you, that love but foremost, that know their business. Well Gume is the sjaman and he knows his business coming from a long line of shamans and . . . his brew is strong. Bernard is a wonderfull sjaman with his San Pedro, checking on everyone, knowing exactly where you are so to assist you. Neil is great and I love him for bringing everything together, a sensitive guy but also practical and a fine musician. And Sarah . . . what can I say, such a funny and beautifull being. Love them all.
And apart from the trips to Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Machu Piccha you will lodge in Petra, in the sacred valley and that is an absolutely superb place to relax. Between giant mountains and waving eucalyptus trees I myself experienced a religious encounter with nature and the grid that holds it. But not only that, you have no mosquito’s here! Not too warm or too cold so no distractions except beauty in nature and in people and thus perfect to concentrate on your San Pedro and Ayahuasca.
The experience itself will be up to you and your intent. And that will be different for all of you seekers but if you ask me, I say: “Seek no more . . . sign up with Neils and go to Petra. You will love love love it”.
Harry, Haarlem, Netherlands
Two years ago I did my first retreat at Spirit Plant Journeys. The choice fell on this place after having done research for many months in order to find a center that was safe, gave value for money and had a serious approach towards the medicine.
No need to give you too many details, but I’ve just finished my third retreat at Spirit Plant Journeys. That should say a lot on its own.
For me it was important also that I got the opportunity to work with San Pedro along with the Ayahuasca medicine, not many retreat centers offers both.
I feel now what I’ve felt every time after a retreat, that I did a very good choice and there is no need to look for any other place.
Neils is a fantastic leader, with vast knowledge and experience. He is also very helpful if any problems occur, for instance with natural remedies if your stomach goes bad (which often happens in Peru).
The Shamans, Bernhard and Gume, are both pure hearted and powerful. And from what I’ve learned, Gume is one of the absolute best ayahuasceros there is.
The food is fantastic.
Yoga, massages is awesome.
The hikes to see old inca ruins gives a nice break from the work, and another dimension to the whole experience.
The whole team at the place deserves praise.
No need to look further, this place will stay in your heart forever.
I really recommend spiritual plant journey for aya, it was my first experience and i am really glad that i choose this place to do it. I really felt safe and good to enjoy all the experience in this nice environment.
Neils and Gume give us this amazing experience that i will always remember. I want to came back soon 🙂
The place we stay is in the sacred valley, in the nature and it was so nice. All the food they cooked there was nicely prepared. The rooms were very good with a fireplace in the living room.
Neils really took care of us and for me i couldn´t choose better place to experience plant medicine.
Good memories from there!
thank you spiritualplantjourneys.
I have checked out quite a lot of centers and different ways of working with ayahuasca. This my favorite place now, and I look forward to returning.
Gume’s ceremonies are lively and powerful, and he brews exceptionally good medicine. What I especially like about working with him is that he has a good understanding of “western” culture, so although he comes from deep in the jungle he has a lot of class and relatable personality. He is a great healer with complete reverence for the medicine, but he also knows how to make the work fun and engaging.
Although he gives advice, he is not too heavy on dogma but rather focuses his views on the methodology of shamanism. That is, he offers mainly tools for working through the experience while leaving the guest free to receive his own “answers”. I have found my consultations with him to be extremely helpful.
Neils is an experienced, patient, and compassionate facilitator. I resonate with his approach of offering retreats that include nice food and accommodations. Everything was very nicely done, including the cooking and cleaning staff who did a great job. Yoga and massage sessions were also available. Fantastic team.
It was all very well run, and a great experience.
This is my third consecutive year returning to Neils, Sarah, Gume, and Bernhard at Spirit Plant Journeys. If that does not speak powerfully for the work this beautiful unorthodox family of people do here I don’t know what will.
Ayahuasca is powerful all on her own. With the right attitude, with enough bravery, you can find what you’re in need of in other retreats. But, SPJ has a unique quality that has me coming back year after year. They are a family here, an unorthodox one, yes, but a family nonetheless. The most important thing I have learned in the last several years working with Aya is that love is at the root of everything, and here at SPJ there is love in abundance. Surrounding yourself if this element when on retreat gives you the safety and the space to dig deep within to find the healing and understanding you are looking for.
This is not some money making outfit as is common in the flowering Aya tourism industry. Sarah and Neils run SPJ as a labor of love because they genuinely want to bring Aya to as many people as possible in as ideal a setting as possible. In finding Gume and the venue Petra, they lucked into something magical. He is a powerful shaman of an ancient lineage, but unlike many medicine workers he along with the retreat organizers have a profound love for everyone they work with. You can feel it radiating from them all in the care they give everyone and in the absolutely beautiful music they all play. This is the core, the theme of SPJ; love, music, and healing.
Each group at SPJ arrives as strangers but leaves as family. The first retreat I intended three years ago I told Sarah and Neils that so long as funds and life allowed I would be returning every year. Three years later, I hold strong to this commitment. There is no other group I would rather drink with, and to this day there is no other way I can think of spending 10 days in a year that is more profoundly beneficial to my life and to my soul.
Much love to all of you at SPJ, and to any of you who upon reading this decide to join the family 🙂
No words can describe my experience with Spirit Plant Journeys. It was a life changing experience that taught me so much and most notably i was shown the importance of drinking the plant medicines (both San Pedro and Ayahuasca) – for personal reasons, to improve relationships and to make this world a better place. Neils and Adam and the whole staff are amazing human beings who were always available to assist with any requests and made us feel at home. Their approach was very friendly, humorous and genuine. You will instantly feel like you can talk to them about anything and everything! I didn´t get the chance to meet Sarah but most of the people who were on the same retreat as I have more than once – spoke highly of her. She was with us in spirit. Everything was very well organised and well thought of. The food was very delicious (Thank you MARC) and Petra is a beautiful place where you can feel completely safe to let go of everything and be vulnerable and open about your previous experiences as well as your journey with the plan medicines. The ceremonies were beautiful and guidance was provided every step of the way. Gume and Bernhard have extensive experience with the plant medicines and are very trust-worthy. Neils and Gume also play music that lightens the soul (listening to music can make a tremendous difference when you are having a rough experience) I really can’t think of a better place to start or deepen your journey with the plan medicines. I definitely will plan another trip here. Thank you thank you thank you for everything. All the love, Sara
I healed my fear and had a lovely time here.
Thank you very much,
Hi Neils and Sarah
Here is my testimonial of my experience at Petra!
I had a wonderful and profound experience in the retreat with Neils, Sandra and their team in June 2017. I had been curious about Ayawaska for several years but had never really felt drawn to experience it. In the last year or so, I became more intrigued after having heard testimonials from some of my students. Since I was coming to Peru and had received a recommendation from one of my students just prior to leaving, I decided that if I was going to experience it, Peru was the place to do so. I contacted Neils when I felt the pull and lo and behold, there was a retreat happening within a week and a half. So many things came together with Grace and Ease that I knew I was meant to participate.
From the onset, I could tell that Neils was sincere and interested in my well-being and very generous and forthcoming with information and answers to my questions. I looked forward to the retreat as I carefully followed the preparation protocol and diet. When I arrived In Huaran I was blown away by the space, the mountains and the accommodations at Petra. Neils and his team – Sarah, Seb, Ana, Chase, Jenny and Bernhard (and puppy Saltero) were all extremely welcoming with hospitality and warmth. I was greatly impressed by everyone’s genuine heart and emotional and spiritual intelligence and maturity.
The food prepared by Mark and his staff was ever so delicious and plentiful. Mark graciously and deliciously met the challenge of cooking without salt – we were all so very pleased and satiated with every meal.
Huaran is of course in the Sacred Valley of Peru. The mountains and the countryside are well suited for the very sacred journey we were about to undertake. I did not know what to expect from the ceremonies, but our San Pedro ceremony led by Bernhard was the perfect opening for the week retreat. Personally, the San Pedro experience was very profound for me, putting me in touch with things I had not known were still so entrenched in my body and psyche. With Bernhard’s help I was able to navigate the tumultuous day and gain more insight into my intentions for the remaining ceremonies.
The Ayawaska ceremonies led by Gume and assisted with loving presence by Neils, were also very powerful. They were more physical for me that anything else – not what I was expecting. Guess I got what I needed and not what I wanted! I had dived in to the whole experience whole-heartedly and it was what it was. Of course, it is still integrating as I speak so I do not know yet the full depth of the experience which will play itself out in the next few months. Part of my intention in the ceremonies was to come closer to and to open my heart, and as I was walking in Cusco the day after returning, I could feel my heart more open than I had felt it in the previous weeks…
I loved how we had so much free and relaxing time between ceremonies, some of which was spent visiting sacred sites, some in hiking around Huaran and a lot just hanging out playing music, journaling, reading and getting to know each other around the evening fires. We all so much enjoyed Saltaro, the happy puppy who was very therapeutic for all of us, the butting ram grazing in the grass near his ewe, and the elder goose that sometimes got a bit impatient and chased us. In this kind of experience, the group dynamic is very important and ebbs and flows as we let down our guards, risk some vulnerability and share our experiences. Thank you to everyone that dived in and did so.
I am so very grateful to life for putting this experience on my path and for following my intuition. I would recommend it to anyone thinking of exploring the sacred plant medicine. It is so important that this be experienced accompanied by the right people and SacredPlantJourneys is definitely the right group. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart.
Who knows, I may be back sooner that I think…
To be continued…
Roland Bérard, Montréal, Québec, Canada June 2017
Without hesitation, I recommend Spirit Plant Journeys if you are considering ayahuasca. Given how potentially intense the experience of ayahuasca can be, having a supportive environment that ensures your well being is essential. Spirit Plant Journeys does that and so much more with endless compassion and ceaseless humor. Their website represents a small portion of the service they provide– I was constantly amazed at their attention to the experience of the group. It was a seamless operation from start to finish. The retreat site is beautiful, the food was incredible, and a long list of other things that will stay in my memories of a great week and a half.
I cannot speak highly enough about Sarah, Neils, Sebastian, Gume, and Bernhard. It was evident early on that their bottom line is not financial profit. They believe in the work they are doing and are committed to improving the lives of the people they work with. I could write pages on what I observed them doing over the course of 10 days, but I’ll just say that their integrity and commitment are second to none.
If you are planning on ayahuasca, I hope you choose Spirit Plant Journeys.
My retreat at spiritplantjourneys exceeded all my expectations. It was a professional and well organised 10 days with great attention to safety, comfort and spiritual growth. I couldn’t imagine doing ayahuasca with anyone other than Spiritplantjourneys and I am already planning my return.
The incredible experience was made possible by the caring team of Neils, Sarah, Sebastian, Bernard and Gume, who did everything possible to ensure people were prepared to make the most of the ayahuasca ceremony. I was relieved by the lack of dreadlocks and tie-dye and the straight forward but deeply spiritual approach to plant medicine that Was promoted by Neils and Sarah.
The ceremonies themselves are deeply personal and difficult to explain. Gume, the shaman, was like a big brother who led the ceremonies by singing his powerful and mystical icaros. I felt a genuine connection to all the other participants and it felt like we had become a family by the end of the retreat.
Of course they were supported by a host of cooks, cleaners and drivers. The food we ate was delicious- you barely noticed the lack of salt or chilli! The accommodation was luxurious with some of the softest beds I’ve ever slept in and the showers flowed strong and warm! The other great aspect to spiritsplantjourneys was being able to do some sight-seeing and hiking in between ceremonies.
I would highly recommend spiritplantjourneys to anyone interested in plant medicine, shamanism or personal growth; You won’t be disappointed.
I lived the experience of A Spirit Plant Journey this February 2017. Going there was the better gift to myself. Neils and Sarah brings together the best of everything and it will make your journey an overwhelming experience. They are dedicated to your well-being.
The site in the Sacred Valley is marvelous and calm, surrounded by the mountains. The houses where we stayed are modern and clean. We ate incredibly well.
The retreat start with a ceremony of San Pedro guided by a generous shaman named Bernard. The Ayahuasca ceremonies were conducted by a powerful shaman, Gumercindo Galindo. His signings are divine. He worked personally on everyone’s challenge and intention.
We also had sessions of yoga which are really good to align the body and energies before the Ayahuasca ceremonies. Those yoga sessions were guided by the wonderful Paulette. She also worked with each of us with Thetahealing, which is an astonishing experience.
This retreat brought me in 10 days, thanks to these wonderful persons, what I was looking for without finding it for about 10 years in the western civilization.
If you are looking for a genuine, authentic, beautiful, healing experience then this is the place. Gumercindo, Mairuna Shaman and Ayahuascero is the REAL DEAL!!! He comes straight from the heart with a true and deep desire to help as many people as possible experience the phenomenal healing power of plant medicine. He is supported in this work by the beautiful Neils and the talented Sebastian who provide a space and atmosphere that makes this deep inner work as easy as they can. Bernhard Karshagan, Huachumero, also provides an outstanding and nurturing experience of San Pedro, gently initiating the entire process with his ceremony. The accomadation and meals are first rate and the setting in the Sacred Valley is serene with magnificent views and awe-inspiring skies.
Having participated in several of these retreats and feeling the incredible life-changing healing they helped provide I could not recommend them highly enough!
Love and light.
I attended the February retreat. It was a great and love it. The people are generous and helping, the shamans are powerful guides and the medicine is also very good. The food was amazing and healthy. The place and settings is awesome too.
It is not always easy to work with the medicine, but the results are amazing. They care a lot about the quality of the retreat. I cannot recommended this place enough .
My wife and I attended the Nov 2016 ceremonies and it was a great experience. I have nothing but praise for the whole event. Sara and Neils are gracious hosts and really care about the comfort of their guests. They make you feel at home and offer their genuine friendship and hospitality freely. There was also Seb, the new addition to Sara and Neils team. He is such a great man with a gentle soul offering support and helping to take care of the guests. Bernard, leading the San Pedro ceremony is wonderful. He is so gentle and compassionate, offering help and support during the ceremony. Gume, leading the Ayahuasca ceremonies is simply amazing. He is a powerful shaman and I was grateful for his help during the times of difficulty with the medicin. His Icaros were great help particularly towards the end with their soothing words. He is a great human being. The venue where we stayed was like a little heaven on earth. Being surrounded with mountains it really lifted the spirit. The accommodation was first class. The food was delicious and healthy. I would not dream of experiencing the medicine again anywhere but at Spirit Plant Journeys. It feels like home. Thank you Neils, Sara, Gume, Seb and Bernard. Thank you.
I’m writing this review about two months since I first arrived at Spirit Plant Journeys (SPJ). I can confidently say without a doubt that making the choice to work the plant medicines at SPJ was one of the best choices of my life. I feel renewed in a way that’s difficult to describe other than I’m really happy to be alive. I am much more comfortable being open, honest, and vulnerable with others. And it’s much easier for me to love myself and others than ever before.
The plant medicine experiences are unique to each individual that attends because we reach this point for different reasons. I’ll keep my review short and focus on the essentials. The up front payment can feel risky or cumbersome but rest easy and trust that Neils and Sarah, who operate the retreat, are honest people; your private information is in safe hands. The retreat center itself is absolutely stunning. The accommodations are cozy and comfy, and the property is gorgeous. I couldn’t imagine working with the plant medicines anywhere else. The food is delicious too. I never felt hungry and I always felt comfortable. The shamans themselves are top notch. Bernard helps set the stage of the retreat with San Pedro, a gentle glide so to speak, at least for me. And Gume’s four Ayahuasca ceremonies were intense, emotional, and have changed my view of myself and the world. He leads the ceremonies with an unmatched passion, and he’s a gentle soul that knows when you need help. Lastly, the facilitators, Neils and Sarah, are truly wonderful people. They are the right kind of people for these experiences. Warm, loving, open-minded, and a goofy bunch. They act selflessly to help each participant have a positive experience of personal growth and healing. I can’t thank them enough. The musical sessions they lead, along with Gume, after the Ayahuasca ceremonies are memories I’ll carry until my last days.
San Pedro and Ayahuasca are truly powerful and sacred medicines. It’s a priveledge to partake in the medicine and an honor to guide others through it. SPJ is more than worthy of the honor to guide participants through these ceremonies. The world needs loving people like Neils, Sarah, Bernard, and Gume. If you are searching for answers, feel like you have unfinished business, or have emotional trauma, be brave enough to visit SPJ. They’ll help you work with the medicines in an honest, safe, and loving environment.
September 2016 Retreat.
If you feel you have done everything in your life, have everything you have ever truly needed, no real wants and you are still searching for something, may I please recommend Spirit Plant Journeys.
I have not even been through the second Ayahuasca ceremony as of this writing and if I was to leave now the price would have been worth it for this retreat. The accommodations alone in the Sacred Valley are worth the price. The area of the accommodations is totally surrounded by huge and gorgeous mountains. Breathtaking! The afternoons are breezy and the air is fresh and clean. The hosts Neils and Sarah are awesome by themselves but the interactions between them are sometimes priceless. The kitchen staff and housekeeping staff Julian and Yony (pronounced Jenny) are perfect. The food preparation amazing, the Shamans are the best of the best. And for me, I believe Ayahuasca is going to save my life. I felt my body going downhill fast and now I am on the verge of a total health reset. BTW I am going on 63 and this is my first experience with anything like this. In between time includes massage from a true sweetheart of a person (Paulette), hikes through the Pisac and (Ollantay Tambo) ruins, visits to local markets and best of all, the making of lifelong friends.
The San Pedro ceremony was awesome as Bernhard has a way of seeing into your heart and providing comforting suggestions when he takes the time to see everyone individually several times during the ceremony. I am a huge fan of AVATAR and the San Pedro experience took me directly into the beauty of Pandora. Just Amazing beauty and a total sense of living a natural life with total respect for nature. San Pedro, to me, was the perfect lead in to the Ayahuasca ceremonies.
The Ayahuasca ceremony was to date the most spectacular experience I have had and as of this writing, I have three more to go. I strongly suggest anyone coming to this retreat to please take the preparatory recommendations by Neils to heart to get the most out of the process. The Shaman Gume is absolutely the real thing. His ceremonial singing and ritual (Icaro’s) is so impressive it is hard to believe one can have that much energy and virtually nonstop. The ceremony is followed up with music and singing by Gume, Neils, Sarah and guests. Indescribably beautiful.
September 6, 2016
As of this writing I have been through two ceremonies’. The second was a step up more powerful than the first. I feel healthier than I have in years. Ayahuasca has automatically taught me to chew my food completely before swallowing and slow down my eating pace significantly. I feel like I have lost 10-12 lbs and 4 inches off my waist. Ayahuasca has purged my system of a vast amount of my undigested food in my gut. It is amazing what has come out of me. On the spiritual side, I have fulfilled a major goal of this trip by actually meeting with my mom and dad and especially my niece that had passed the same week I had left for this trip. I got a lot more than I had bargained for here as many family members, friends and pets showed up too. It was all incredible. I know there is a lot more cleaning up to do of my body and spiritual experiences ahead of me and I am looking forward to that as I experience ceremony 3 tonight.
If you have read this far, I have been through all four ceremonies and it is by far the most incredible experience of my life outside of watching the birth of my two awesome sons, one of which I was lucky enough to have been able to bring with me. Number 2 son definitely must join me in the near future. I am so impressed that I am planning to do what I can in my life to make a new start in the Sacred Valley within the next two years…. God willing and I am sure God is willing and going to assist me all the way. I just have to be part of this.
The whole movement towards Ayahuasca retreats has really taken off and become extremely popular for quite a while now. I highly and strongly recommend Spirit Plant Journeys for their highest levels of integrity and value in every possible respect. And please, do not take Ayahuasca without a Shaman and proper guidance. One MUST take this highly spiritual experience 1000% seriously and with an open mind and heart. See you soon SPJ, I will return in March 2017.
Much Love and Thanks to you all!
I am so grateful for my experience with Spirit Plant Journeys. I had felt a strong, very strong calling to commune with Ayahuasca. I planned my trip in just a couple of months, and it felt a little like jumping off a cliff. I had no experience with Ayahuasca, didn’t know anyone in Peru, and had never met a Shaman before.
So, this process was a leap of faith for me, but I felt completely at ease and comfortable within an hour of meeting Niels, Sarah, and my retreat group. I can’t explain it other than things just felt right.
Neils and Sarah are compassionate and love their work. They were so friendly, I felt my heart open to them in love and trust immediately. I really appreciated their knowledge of the process, and the effort they put in allowing us all space for our work with Ayahuasca, balanced with getting us out and about and seeing breathtaking sites. I loved all of our side excursions, they added much to my experience.
The accommodations and food were all top-notch. Initially, this wasn’t a concern of mine — but during my Ayahuasca process, I came to really, really appreciate it! Aya was very taxing on my body and the love, care and comfort I received were SO important to me in the midst of that challenge.
The San Pedro experience was very gentle with me, and it was a lovely way to start the ceremony. I felt like I connected deeply with Bernhard, both during the San Pedro and later, when I was feeling flattened by the Ayahuasca. It was a very challenging time and Bernhard was there with me and gave me love, support and guidance.
I experienced Gume, the Ayahuasca shaman as a powerful father figure. He made it clear that we were there to do our own work, and he did so much to create the space to allow that to happen. I appreciated his care, intensity, and clear, no-nonsense manner. He was such a beautiful instrument and channel. His singing the Icaros has stayed with me since the retreat.
Myra, the massage therapist and Machu Picchu tour guide was so sweet and loving. I was in such a delicate state… and her healing touch and encouragement made such a difference for me.
I did the Machu Picchu tour, and it was great. I almost didn’t go because I was still feeling the effects from my Ayahuasca process, but Neils and Myra encouraged me. It wasn’t easy, but that fit given the process I was going through.
I let a lot go during those 11 days. I have been working so hard spiritually, seeking and looking and trying to find God and healing and I left with such a powerful sense of having it deep inside all the time. On Aya, I experienced myself as a mountain, as earth and rock… and Aya came to me as water, flowing into my cracks and letting me know that all was going to be ok.
Being back home, I’ve experienced such acceptance of myself and others, and a noticeable release of stress and existential tension. Aya has given me a beautiful exhale.
I basically never ever write reviews, but it just wouldn’t be fair to deny the possibility of more people having the amazing experience I had through lack of a review, after all , it was the testimonial page that helped me take the leap of faith and fly across to the other side of the world on my own to have my own experience. So unbelievably glad I did. Didn’t have any trouble with the locals , basically everyone is friendly in the neighboring areas. The location at the sacred valley is a beautiful spot. Was wonderful to wake up there every morning , and have a good cup of tea and a chin wag with my fellow adventurers. It didn’t take long at all for our bond to grow incredibly strong, and a huge part of that development process is the way that our hosts “held” us. Neils and Sarah are wonderful people and the best hosts in the world, its amazing that they can put on such an incredibly great retreat for people from all walks of life , and allow them to come together and have an amazing experience. Which is exactly what we had. Food is fantastic, walked away from the retreat a stone heavier than I entered (which for me is a good thing, and it really was a whole stone! don’t underestimate the power of diet) How to possibly summarise those weeks… Take a leap of faith , everyone had their own individual reasons for attending, I certainly had mine. If you know its something you want/need/feel the urge to do, and you want to experience it at an awesome place , with amazing hosts, then I can’t recommend Spirit Plant Journeys with Neils and Sarah enough.
Peace and Love
Thank you Spirit Plant Journeys, Gume, Neils, Carl, Bernhardt and the amazing community of souls who were my retreat mates in May of this year. This is an experience I wish every person on planet earth could have. I am grateful for the opportunity to heal, learn, soul-search and stretch self imposed limits and boundaries accumulated over many, many decades. I hope there will be an opportunity to return; I hope anyone reading this review will take a leap of faith and go.
The venue is beautiful and comfortable, the food excellent, and the shaman and facilitators knowledgeable, helpful and extremely kind. The many hikes and walks provided a physical counterpoint to the exercise my mind did during the ceremonies. It’s a synergistic mind-body experience.
Our group was small and we bonded quickly and tightly – the kind of non-judgemental, loving family that everyone should have. Thank you again my friends.
I would like to return, but if that is not possible, I highly recommend the experience and Spirit Plant Journeys to all – please go in my place – you won’t regret the decision.
The 10 days at SpiritPlant Journeys (SPJ) made for an indelible experience, not “only” the medicines, but the bond that was forged amongst people who had been total strangers before that. SPJ took very good care, both psychically and physically.
Gumercindo was an inspiration and a comfort. The setting, too, is utterly beautiful. The sightseeing and the hiking it entailed were great.
Five stars to everyone at SPJ who bring a tremendous experience.
My stay with Spirit Plant Journeys was hands down one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. I was a little nervous signing up and arriving but within a few hours of arriving I felt completely at home. Niels, Gume, Carlos and the team made us all feel so welcome and comfortable that all the initial worries soon fell away. The group of people were also very friendly, open and by the end we were like family, I have without a doubt made friends for life. The ceremonies were beautiful, well organised and everything was thought of and accounted for. The accomodation was also beautiful which made such a difference, going back to a lovely clean and warm room after the ceremonies, not to mention the amazing surroundings we were in. This retreat has changed my life for the better and I don’t think I will ever be the same again, and I am so happy and grateful for that. For anyone considering a retreat I would say, choose Spirit Plant Journeys – I can’t imagine a safer, more friendly and more beautiful setting and group of people to experience plant medicine with. It was perfect.
It’s hard, really, to put into words an experience that is so truly life changing. The depth and power of this experience made possible through the work of Spirit Plant Journeys led by Neils and Sarah, who are exceptional in so many ways, and Gumercindo Galindo, who is clearly a maestro of the highest order. Gume (as he is affectionately known), carries the ancestral lineage from the jungles of the Amazon of Ayahuasca curanderos. His intuitive, spiritual, psychic, kind, powerfully shamanic approach, protects the space and where appropriate, enables him to intervene to help participants to go through healing, cleansing, and the removal of negative energies.
Undergoing the journey through both San Pedro and Ayahuasca is exceptionally challenging, at least it is for me. And it is clear that what is vital is to have safety, support, and qualified guides. All of this was provided by SPJ’s.
At the beginning of the journey, it is suggested we make clear our intention, which for me came down to three areas of focus:
1. Personal healing for a medical issue and for trauma carried in my system, and for stress-related anxiety, which has been producing very difficult energetic processes and sensations in my body.
2. To be open to, and accept, whatever La Medicina (the plants), wished to show me.
3. To better understand how I, as someone who is a healer, teacher, and social activist, could better be of service.
At the culmination of the 10 days, it was clear that all three dimensions had been addressed, and of course, much more.
I should backtrack and say, actually, this was my second retreat with SPJ’s and both flowed together in a seamless whole, in that some of the knowledge and insights revealed in the first retreat, continued into the second.
Ayahuasca is a deep and ancient intelligence, and to be opened into ‘her’ realm, is to meet this intelligence that knows you so intimately, knows your body, (gave you your body), and the various realms of the living, dead, the cosmos, plants, the processes of karma, the ways of healing, absolutely directly, without any priestly intervention, theology, or spiritual interpretation. It is a direct meeting with consciousness that is deeply embodied in each of us at a cellular level.
To enter the flow of this knowledge, with its healing dynamic and revelatory processes, entails a death of sorts – at least that’s how I experienced it. I experence the process as getting in a Shamans boat, in order to travel through the realms of disintegration, (where fear arises), and into transformational process (where ultimately deep peace is possible and tasted.)
The journey also involves cleansing – called purging (puking, shiting, shaking) – all of which happened for me. But also a deep ‘surgery’ of sorts, where healing took place at a profound energetic level, shifting blocked energy creating dis-eases that emerge sometimes with life experiences, thought forms, beliefs and so on. I received advice from La Medicina about diet, and plants that were shown to me that can heal my condition.
Beside the physical level, much was revealed around healing the emotional and psychic planes, as well as an understanding that we live in a sacred hologram of energetic interface with other dimensions (including the ‘dead’ who were very alive to me, with messages), heirarchies of knowledge, light beings, earth spirits, plant intelligence. The evolutionary unfolding was glimpsed, with our task at this time to continue our (humanity) awakening process at speed at this few seconds before midnight. (We are headed toward mega storms – ecological, political, social upheval.)
I understood that there will be much collapse of the systems we have been under for centuries (patriarchy, capitalist, white supremacy), etc, and that the best way to prepare is through prayer, strengthening the heart through spiritual practice, and through nourishing community.
Basically, there was a lot to take in, and make relevant for new ways of being in my life. I was given guidance as to how best, with my skills and capactities, to contribute to this extreme time we are collectively living through.
All of this was carried by the Icaros, (shamanic songs) of Gume, and music of Neils, Sarah and Gume, which were so healing, like the wings of angels in the midst of stormy weather. Exquisite.
If you come on this journey, prepare yourself to be opened, made vulnerable, cleansed, to share your beauty, trials, your heart and soul with your fellow travellers. Prepare your body by eating cleanly before you come, and prepare your heart to let go of the walls you have created, prepare you mind to be opened.
Thank you Gume, Neils and Sarah for making such profound journeys possible. Also for the mini tours to various interesting local Inca sites, and for helping us negotiate all realms, from the ordinary and practical to the non-ordinary, and for your love, humor, stories, and support.
I’ll be back.
I went to this retreat a nervous wreck. I had anxiety daily. I was stressed out from work, alienated from family and friends, and felt completely lost. Its been a little over two months and these days I experience very minimal stress, no anxiety, and I am reconnecting with people again. I feel for the first time in a long time like I have a direction and meaning in life. I have Ayahuasca, San Pedro and Spirit Plant Journeys to thank for this.
The medicine was great. Some days, most days, were pretty rough for me. I was shown a lot about myself that was hard to accept but I was also shown a way through it. I am so thankful for the guidance of Bernhard who spent time with me talking me through the pain I was releasing. He always knew the right things to say and shared many helpful insights.
The Shaman Gumercindo held powerful ceremonies and I felt safe in his care. During one ceremony I felt the medicine really strongly and didn’t feel I could cope. I am not sure what he did, I could hear him singing over me, and I could feel him holding my head. I just followed the sound of his voice and found myself back in the room. Each ceremony with Aya was powerfully healing and insightful.
Neils and Sarah were wonderful guides and took us on day trips around Peru.
I went to the retreat for healing & inner exploration and also experienced the leisure of travel & exploration of ancient ruins. It was quite symbolic . The facility was a hidden and private gem with the cutest adobes, & plenty of pets to hang out with! The whole experience was life changing.
Simply amazing! I could write a long review, but really, I would just suggest you have the experience yourself. I cannot garuntee that the whole time will be enjoyable….mine was not. But I grew from it. No matter what you have read, you do not know what Ayahuasca is.
With spirit plant journeys, you are in good hands. Neils and Sarah are professional and experienced in helping those through tough spots. Gume and Bernard hold the space well and help to facilitate the plant medicines to their fullest effects.
Words can hardly begin to express the profound gratitude and love you will feel at Spirit Plant Journeys. Neils and Sarah have built something incredibly special because they are extraordinary people full of wisdom, talent, humor, and gentleness. If you are curious about the work but also a bit frightened, this is the place where you can leave those worries behind and trust that you are in very capable hands. Every detail is attended for you so you have a safe and blessed journey. (Our luggage was lost from the outset of our journey. Neils made sure that we got the essentials that we needed and also saw to it that the luggage was retrieved and delivered safely.)
The retreat is located at Las Chullpas Eco-lodge– a place of serene beauty in the Sacred Valley. The Earth there is maternal and healing. She becomes a great part of your journey with the plant medicines. As others have said, the outing to the ruins are fantastic and balance the work of the medicine. Peru is a place of great beauty, history, and mythic imagination. The plant medicines weave the wisdom they bring from the earth. It is profoundly healing to reconnect in such right relationship and to feel that connection so deeply rooted in your own body.
For me, the lessons of the San Pedro heart medicine were to love myself and to release the traumas I carried with me. One of the greatest teaching came when I expressed worry for my teenage children who have both struggled with anxiety and depression for many years–I was told that all I had to do to heal them was to heal myself. This permission for self care and deepened experience of self love has enriched my relationship with them and has had a healing effect for us all. San Pedro powerfully reaches into one’s pain, mulches it, and turns it into pure joy. it is truly the heart medicine. Bernhard is magic–intuitive, nurturing, and honest. He skillfully helps you work through your process and set the intention for the work with Mother Aya.
The four nights of Aya were the most powerful thing I have ever experienced. The wisdom to build massage and yoga into those days helped to sustain the body in practice for the evening. While it is hard to explain the power of the medicine, I can tell you that one thing I came to ceremony with was the plague of thoughts–the scorpions of the mind–which come with the troubles and stresses of divorce, single parenting and the freelancing life of a working artist. These thoughts have many times in my life riddled me with stress and fear. By the end of the retreat, the ability to quite the mind and connect with the universal force of love that is everywhere became effortless. Such freedom is palpable. While the evenings were not always blissful and some of them very difficult, Aya was in a constant process of attending and healing.
What was particularly powerful was the soulful connection we felt with the entire group, with each individual’s intention and in their blessings by Gume. To meditate so deeply with a group you love, to connect at the meta level and pray together, to share consciousness in that way was truly the most loving experience. Our group will always be our tribe. My healing was possible because I was in their company, in their hearts, and they in mine. Bless all of you for your courage to walk so softly but deeply in the world.
Gume is a force. The medicine works through your body by the way he sings the icaros. His voice is beautiful and resonate. He is a true servant to the medicine and has no ego. At the beginning of the trip, I arrived with a very bad pinched nerve–or pain in the neck (metaphor in practice) which had been so painful that even sleeping was difficult. This was present for a year. After the first two ceremonies, it disappeared. Gume also performed a special healing for me during one of the ceremonies which entailed sudden lower back pain. He completely drew this out of me. It was quite extraordinary.I wouldn’t dream of wanting to work with anyone else and look forward to returning soon. But perhaps one of the loveliest parts of the ceremony was they way Gume, Sarah, and Neils sang at the end. The songs were sighs of the heart that spoke so powerfully, loved so deeply, like lullabies did as a child. Those songs frequently play in my mind.
The outcomes after a month home have been subtle yet powerful: my yoga pratice has strengthened and I find it very easy to return to that deep and healing meditative space. Aya told me the first night that I was her daughter and I find it easy to connect to the wisdom of the earth whenever I need, am able to tap into the profound universal love with a heart full of gratitude. My ability to handle stress is far easier. My gentleness with my self is far greater. I was very blessed to attend this retreat with my love and partner, and I highly recommend this for couples. it is a beautiful reset for a relationship: one in which the sovereignty of the beloved is celebrated and granted. We look forward to returning and bringing our friends and family.
There is a quote that reminds me of this experience that I would like to share for it sums up the good work that all of the practitioners at Spirit Plant Journeys accomplish:
Integrity in love
Is the only true guide
to the wisdom that leads
Spirit Plant Journeys was not just a retreat, it was a homecoming. Go home.
My ayahuasca experience with Spirit Plant was the real deal. Apparently there’s a lot of fakers out there just trying to capitalize on the “ayahuasca tourism” trend without actually putting any real care into the process. Sarah and Neils were terrific, and I can’t recommend them highly enough. As a Marine Corps combat veteran, I have encouraged all my friends who served in Afghanistan with me to pursue the healing provided by this plant medicine. I will be returning to Peru as soon as possible to continue my work there as well.
It?s hard to find the words to describe my Spirit Plant Journeys experience this just past July mucho gracias to the unforgettable Sarah & Neils. In any case, I?ll breathe, go deep; here?s my best shot?
Sarah and Neils provided a sanctuary at the foothills of the mountains that became, not only my home for 12 amazing days, but the place in which I re-discovered the true nature of the world, my place within it, and ultimately experienced my first ancient medicine healing which has changed my life, forever.
I can honestly say that without the nurturing, support and incredibly considered programme that Sarah and Neils provide, my experience wouldn?t have been as rich nor profound.
Sarah is a beauty-plus-some with a knowledge of the medicines surpassing her years. She is accepting, kind, open-hearted, broad-minded and loaded with wisdom ? everything you?d ever want from a facilitator or mentor throughout the daunting plant medicine experience!
Neils, likewise, is the sweetest, gentlest and most intelligible man. He was always there to answer every one of our questions or requests no matter how small, big, outrageous ? and regardless of the time of night! [Matt? I?m thinking of you ;)]
The potency of the combined talents of these two really shone through in the ceremonies. Sarah & Neils have definitely found their vocation! Plus, as both talented musicians, we were entertained, lullabied and serenaded at the closing of each of our ceremonies ? a magical addition to the retreat and definite point of difference you?d find hard pressed to experience anywhere else.
Our medicine men, Gume and Bernard, are something else. Gume is a machine of a man ? I won?t wax on about his credentials as you can read these at Spirt Plant?s website. However, throughout the course of the ceremonies I began to understand the immense power of this man and his ability to hold the ceremonial space.
Bernard ? our San Pedro healer ? will forever hold a special place in my heart. He assisted me with digging up and resolving extremely ancient pain ? exactly why I came to the retreat in the first place. Bernard is extremely gifted at his craft and is kind, humble and generally a good time. (P.S. wait till you try his soup! Delicious!)
In short, I cannot bang on enough about Spirit Plant Journey?s. If you are thinking of going, just go. Don?t hesitate. Don’t wait. Don’t do it later. Do it now. This will change your life.
If you are reading this, I assume that you have read up on ayahuasca and San Pedro, and that you have already heard that plant medicine, though challenging, is tremendously healing both physically and emotionally, and ultimately life changing. And maybe, you are looking for a safe and comfortable place to experience this.
Spirit Plant Journeys is absolutely the place. It is hard to even put into words how exceptional the staff are. Neils and Sarah (facilitators), Gume and Bernard (medicine men) not only bring decades of experience with plant medicine, they are all super awesome people that I would love to have as my friends and neighbors. I was simply blown away at that quality of the staff and the experience. I have previous experience with ayahuasca and can attest that that Spirit Plant Journeys is top shelf in every way.
The facilities were also wonderful. Hot showers and private toilets in Peru! I did not expect such luxury, but Las Chulpas Eco Lodge has all that and more: great food, friendly animals, beautiful grounds, local ancient ruins, etc. etc..
I also appreciate how Spirit Plant Journeys also incorporates San Pedro into their retreat. I have found, as others have, that ayahuasca and San Pedro are very complimentary.
I trust these folks at Spirit Pant Journeys with my whole heart. No ego or touristy crap here. This is the real deal.
First review I’ve ever written for anything. Neil’s and Sarah sorry it’s taken me so long. Just been so busy with life since I got home. Aya gave me new life.
It’s amazing how many things have changed for the better.
What spirit plant journeys provides is almost indescribable
The love and the environment is perfect for such an experience.
The food is amazing. The pets at the retreat have amazing energy.
The retreat is beautiful. Gume and Bernard the shamans are amazing.
Neils and Sarah are two of the coolest people I ever met.
I’m just going to throw some stuff out there of what I got from the retreat
Ayahuasca freed me from so many things that was holding me back and torturing me at night I can sleep without drugs now easily first time in 7 years
San Pedro showed me things that changed the way I view a lot of things I am much more understanding
I connect better with my children especially my autistic son
I connect better with my family
I got engaged, I enrolled in college
Life doesn’t feel such a dead end anymore
Spirit plant journeys is the greatest gift you can give to yourself
Thank you sarah, Neils, gume, Bernard, ayahuasca, and San Pedro
I would highly recommend starting or continuing your journey with Ayahuasca or San Pedro at Spiritplant Journeys. Sarah, Neils, Bernard, and Gumere are amazing people with big hearts. One thing about embarking on a journey like this is that you will most likely encounter some very difficult moments, maybe even horrifying as your mind reveals itself to you. To be nurtured and cared for with the incredible amount of love and compassion that they have to offer is a blessing that will be grateful to have received when you are in a dark moment. I really could not have done the amazing work I did without their help. They are beautiful people, and they made all the difference in the world in my journey – so much so, that I will be returning again next year. This is the place for me. You couldn’t ask for better facilitators or shaman!
Although this is the only Ayhuasca retreat I have ever experienced, I cannot imagine another one being much better. The plant medicine ceremonies were amazing. The tours of ancient ruins filled the remaining downtime very well creating a very free, relaxing atmosphere, but never with a feeling of boredom. The retreat had 4 Ayhuasca ceremonies “sandwiched” in between 2 San Pedro ceremonies (with necessary breaks for recovery in between).
I was originally hesitant about taking the San Pedro medicine because I had never heard of it; after all, Ayhuasca was the reason I was seeking this type of experience in the first place. Now I am so glad I was able to receive the San Pedro experience as it is much gentler providing a perfect introduction and absolutely beautiful exit from the retreat experience. The San Pedro shaman speaks English, and provides one-on-one counseling throughout the ceremony; helping direct your focus towards your intentions and allowing you to achieve what you came for. San Pedro is Ayhuasca’s perfect companion.
Still, the Ayhuasca experience is still the “main event” of the retreat and it does not disappoint! The Shaman, Gumercindo, has a caring heart and keeps you safe throughout the ceremonies, allowing you to open up fully to the medicine to get the greatest benefit. I have read that Shamans sometimes sing well, and sometimes not, during their icaros. Well, this is not a worry because he has a beautiful voice. His songs still remain in my mind as I try to recapture moments I experienced while in-ceremony.
Neils and Sarah are beautiful people. They are the ideal example of those you hope to have at a retreat like this. Trust is very important with these experiences. They understand this and set the example for the entire retreat. It is about love of each other, respecting the experiences of others, and ultimately about the love of one’s self. They have created a retreat which allows the personal freedom to discover a new perspective on life without limitations, and they demonstrate this themselves by living it. They are young, energetic, and fun to be around, but they never lose their focus on the overall goal, which is to provide us the best situation possible to achieve what we intended.
I believe everyone can benefit from this medicine. All it takes is the willingness to plan the trip, and then open up to the medicine to allow it to do its work. Although, I have never been to another retreat, I believe this is the one that does it right. I achieved what I intended and I have absolutely no regrets. Everything was beautiful. It was perfect!
Guys! It took me 3 months to write this review, sorry for that 😀
But no really, it feels that my life has really begun after working with Spirit Plant Journeys. I see my life in a new light. I am flowing. I have learned to surrender, to let go. I have learned to love my self, to share it with others and feel blessed from the reflections.
I have become my true self.
Sarah and Neils are an amazing people, who are willing to give and make you feel at the most comfort. It won’t be longer than 3 months to go back and experience this profound cleansing again, to go deeper.
From all of my heart, thank you for this transformation.
I can’t begin to explain how amazing the experience was with Spirit Plant Journeys. Everything was better than imagined, and Sara and Neils were the most caring and attentive hosts. The retreat center was beautiful, food was delicious, Shamans were so powerful and I was really able to connect with them- it was all perfect and I plan to head back one day. I am forever grateful for the life changing experience and for the connections I made! Thank you 🙂
I have just returned from a Spirit plant journey in Peru with Neils and Sarah… The result has been a total upgrade to my life! Set in a beautiful retreat atmosphere,sacred ceremonies, mini trekking in ruins and mountains, wholesome food, yoga and massage…Deep trans-formative healing happened… I was able to discover and resolve what memories and thought patterns have held me back from experiencing a true love and joy.. questions were answered and so much inspiration came for me to practice now in my so called real life! My heart and soul are eternally grateful to Neils, Sara and the wonderful Sharmans for this medicine Journey. If you are truly ready to journey within, This is the Journey to take..********Thanks guys..*****
Having just completed a retreat with Spirit Plant Journeys I am in the absolute inner glow of how profound it was. Everything about this retreat was impeccable. The commitment to the medicine was absolute & the shamans facilitating both medicines were awe inspiring. Neil’s & Sarah organised & attended to our every need & provided a space for such comfort that allowed our personal journeys to be so safe, held, supported, encouraged & deeply respected. I enjoyed the accommodation very much, the food, the fires,the love & sharing offered. The added dimension of local tours throughout the Sacred Valley was also wonderful & supported the inner work so much. I will be highly recommending this retreat across the world & truly wish Neil’s & Sarah so much awesome success as they help bring these precious medicines to people for such deep healing & transformation. Thank you both so very much xxxx
Love Shanti Ramana
Spirit Plant Journeys is the real deal.
Gume is an impeccable shaman. I have now worked with him during two retreats, and I still cannot believe his power. He works with love, clarity, and centeredness. He has brought me healing and insight that I would never have thought possible. His medicine is pure love. Drinking Ayahuasca with Gume has changed my life.
Bernhard blew me away with his insight and presence. His guidance during the San Pedro ceremonies, held at the beginning and end of the retreat, helped me enormously in focusing my intentions with Ayahuasca and in learning how to bring the lessons of the retreat back with me into my life. His knowledge and experience inspire enormous trust; he has made me want to continue working with San Pedro, which I knew nothing about before.
Sarah and Neils, the facilitators, create an open, no-bullshit environment that is quite simply ideal. They don’t impose sanctimonious nonsense on you, but they also respect the power and sacredness of the medicine. They do their important work with a exemplary lightness of touch and sense of fun.
Las Chullpas, the retreat center, is beautiful, comfortable, delightful. You eat well and enjoy stunning surroundings. Soon there will be retreats at Gume’s family’s property in the jungle, which is (truly) a paradise on earth, though spartan in comparison to Las Chullpas.
You cannot go wrong with Spirit Plant Journeys. This is the place to go.
I had the most beautiful and profound experience during the 10 day course. Sarah and Neils are both beautiful people with big hearts and I will be forever grateful for their support during my time at Las Chullpas. If you have any anxieties about the whole ayahuasca experience your worries will quickly be removed as Sarah and Neils will make you feel at ease, as will the other people in the program. Everyone that I attended the course with were just beautiful human beings and I hope to remain in touch with them.
Everything about this course far exceeded my expectations. The setting at Las Chullpas is especially beautiful and it was so nice to have the gorgeous animals among us. The dogs are especially very friendly and loving creatures.
There are so many ayahuasca retreats out there now and I am so grateful to have found something that just completely exceeded any expectations that I came in with.
Bernhard and Gumercindo are both very experienced and powerful healers and I would just like to thank them both so much for their time, energy, and teachings. I have gained more than I had ever imagined!
Sarah and Neils, thank you so, so much for one of the most beautiful experiences of my life!
Lots of love.
I attended the retreat earlier this month (June) and words can not begin to express the gratitude and praise I have for everyone there.
The venue is beautiful and the accommodations are extremely comfortable. The meals are both healthy and delicious and you are never wanting for anything.
These are all great however it’s the intangibles that make this place great. Neils and Sarah are both amazing as facilitators. From the moment they pick you up you are immediately put at ease by their approachability and openness. They both worked tirelessly to make sure everyone was comfortable and getting everything they needed from the experience. You can see that they believe in and love what they are doing and it shows in everything they do and say.
Bernhard exudes a peaceful energy that is so refreshing to be around and he does extraordinary work with san pedro. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent talking with him. He is extremely insightful and truly a master of his craft. I will never forget our conversations or the work he did with me. It was truly eye opening and life changing.
The ayahuasca ceremonies were the most terrifying and most beautiful experiences of my life to date. There really aren’t words to describe the ayahuasca experience but what I can say is that Gume’s control over the space that we occupied was truly something to behold. I started the retreat with a certain amount of skepticism regarding the abilities of shamans and I am now one hundred percent a believer that the work he does is as real as anything I’ve ever known to be true. I’ve seen, felt, and experienced things in his presence that are life changing and way beyond my comprehension. His sincere attention and care are evident in every ceremony and interaction he has with the people he works with. While this is my only experience with plant medicines or a retreat like this, I can not imagine that it gets any better than what these people have created. They have all very obviously wholly and completely invested themselves in providing healing and comfort for everyone they welcome to their retreat.
I hope to return soon for more work with the medicine and to be in the company of such genuine people.
I wholeheartedly recommend spirit plant journeys to anyone interested in work with plant medicines. I promise you will not be disappointed.
I attended the Spirit Plant Journeys retreat in May, 2015. As a 46-year old woman who doesn’t speak Spanish, traveling alone and venturing into my first-ever experience with the plant medicines (and, for that matter, psychedelics), you can probably imagine I had some anxieties over whether I was making the right decision, choosing the best venue, and so on.
I am pleased to report that this was one of the best trips of my life and without a doubt, working with the plant medicines was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It really is a game changer, and I could not be happier that I chose Spirit Plant Journeys to do this with.
It’s going to be impossible to cover everything in this review, but I’ll attempt to highlight a few major points.
Originally, I had hoped to go into the Amazon, but the dates for that retreat were booked. I’m now relieved that I was directed to SPJ by Sara. Thank you Sara! It was ideal to not deal with the challenges of the jungle in addition to my first experience with the medicines. The Las Chullpas eco lodge in Urubamba is a quiet, beautiful, safe venue for the retreat (and no doubt less buggy) that includes comfortable rooms/beds, daily room service, running showers, electricity, a lovely dining room and staff that serves healthy meals, and plenty of space to wander around and reflect on the experience. I also loved the resident cat, dogs, and alpacas!
A quick word on logistics pre-trip: The system for collecting deposits may seem awkward to you as it did for me. I experienced much hassle with this, and advise that you go directly into a Western Union location to pay your deposit. Do not attempt to send money using the online systems, regardless of how “easy” they claim it is.
On arrival, it is okay to drink the Coca tea! I wasn’t sure and didn’t want to chance interfering with the medicines, so I turned down the kind offer from hotel staff only to find out later that the tea helps tremendously with altitude sickness. When offered to me on the day I arrived at my hotel in Cusco, I felt fine; however, shortly after getting to the room, it came over me like an avalanche. I’ve never actually been hit by an avalanche, so perhaps I’m exaggerating, but you get the point: it was pretty awful. I had planned to walk around and do some shopping after checking in, and instead spent the entire day in bed, miserable. Please don’t make the same mistake that I made. That tea is your friend.
On the first official day, everyone met at the Starbuck’s in Cusco, which faces the town square. Yes, it is located upstairs but is easily identifiable by the Starbucks Siren/logo that you are used to seeing.
In a nutshell, Neils and Sara put together a fantastic retreat. They are kind, generous individuals with beautiful spirits who went out of their way to make sure that everyone was comfortable and had everything they needed. I was continually impressed by how hard they worked to make it all happen. We had laundry service twice; our own yoga instructor; a generous, continuous supply of fresh fruit; and they even brought in a massage therapist!
I felt that our group of 12 was perfect–not too many–and ranged in age from mid-20s to mid-50s. I love them all. They seem like family to me now, and I look forward to seeing everyone again.
Some of the best shopping can be found in Pisac, so be sure to take advantage of that day if you’re interested in bringing back some good deals from the trip. Among other things, you can expect to find great prices on silver, crystals, scarves, and sweaters. The hike is also absolutely gorgeous!
One thing that initially attracted me to SPJ was the combination of the ayahuasca and san pedro ceremonies. My instincts were correct, as this turned out to be a perfect blend, with the san pedro ceremonies at the beginning and end of the retreat, and the ayahuasca ceremonies in the middle. I really enjoyed working with Bernhard and Gume, who are wise, genuine, wonderful teachers and shamans. I am deeply grateful to them both.
The Machu Picchu trip is a great way to end the retreat, and I highly recommend going if you can swing it. Aguas Calientes is a strange little village, but the Machu Picchu tour is very good and who knows when you’ll have another opportunity; it’s also a nice way, albeit bittersweet, to spend time a bit more time with your group.
It’s now been a month since the retreat, and the medicines have stayed with me and continue to teach and guide and heal. There have been ups and downs since returning to everyday life, and it can be tricky navigating old routines while integrating new insights from the medicines. But even the downs are good. They are a pre-sent moment to remind me there’s an opportunity to change my mind about something I previously decided was a down moment. That simple.
One of my favorite lines from the movie Avatar: “Everything is backwards now. Out there is the real world and in here is the dream.” That will only make sense if you’ve worked with Ayahuasca, I think.
Overall, I’m still in awe, and just overwhelmed with gratitude and love for this moment, and looking forward to every moment that is to come. The medicines show you very clearly just how magical life really is, and how we create it all.
From my spirit to yours, thank you Neils, Sara, Bernhard, Gume, and our amazing group for each perfect moment you shared with me.
This retreat exceeded all expectations profoundly. The food, the accommodation, and the services provided were fitting, and the facilitators were genuine and candid. The 8 other visitors I met there will never be forgotten, and I hope too see them again in time.
As for the Ayahuasca medicine, if magic truly exists in this world, then Ayahuasca comes the closest to it that I have ever encountered. I wish I had words that could convey the sense of wonder and awe I felt during the 4 ceremonies, especially the last one. I openly and sincerely looked through to the infinite possibilities I was shown, and gained real insight and inspiration to honestly try and better myself, to help to make me be the best person I can possibly be.
The Ayahuasca experience is very personal to each individual, in that it allows you to access your subconscious mind, from which you can learn many things. I know I have just merely scratched the surface of what I can learn in this realm, so I wish to continue to pursue this new direction in life I have discovered.
I want to thank Bernhardt for his wisdom and sharpness of thought and vision, Gumercindo for his captivating Icaros and powerful presence, Neils for his affable nature and good humor, and finally Sarah, for her charm and especially her lovely singing voice.
I have found innovation for the first time in my life. THANK YOU.
“Only to be filled again with morning”.
James Zalitis 24/06/2015
Going on this retreat was one of the best decisions I?ve made in my life. I did a lot of research before even committing to an Ayahuasca experience, and I?m glad that I was finally able to live it out with this group. Neils and Sarah are beautiful souls who create a very relaxed atmosphere at the Las Chullpas Eco Lodge, located in the Sacred Valley in Urubamba. It?s a beautiful place with the friendliest dogs and alpacas you?ll ever meet. Nancy, the owner, provides delicious meals which are within the Ayahuasca diet, has a laundry service twice during the 11 day retreat, and even has Wi-Fi available near the office area in case you want to hop back onto the grid and check in with family or business. I got lucky with my fellow retreat goup. There was 10 of us total which I think is actually perfect. Each and every person was so genuine, down to earth and just plain cool. I have to give a nod to Neils and Sarah?s screening process in creating such a positive vibe throughout our group. By the end of the retreat we all felt like family, having learned so much about ourselves, each other, and the power and beauty of plant medicine. The retreat itself is structured quite nicely. it?s bookended with a couple of San Pedro cactus ceremonies led by Bernhard who has an uncanny way of saying the perfect thing that will guide you through your experience. Without him, the medicine can be very confusing and even overwhelming. Wachuma served as a good intro into plant medicine for me because it further focused my intention for the retreat and primed me for the more intense Ayahuasca ceremonies to follow. It?s pretty cool how the two medicines compliment each other in that way.
The Ayahuasca ceremonies were life changing for me. It?s such a beautiful experience. I?m very grateful to have done it with a quality shaman like Gum
This was a such a beautiful retreat. The accommodations made the experience very comfortable. The food was appropriate and delicious! Chirimoya!!!
Both the San Pedro Shaman and the Aya Shaman were extremely knowledgeable and guided me through the ceremonies. It was my first time working with both medicines, and I could not be more grateful for this experience. I came to the retreat hoping to receive guidance for my career and know my place in the universe. Upon leaving the retreat, my intentions were fulfilled and my life changed.
Both of the facilitators Neils and Sarah are beautiful people. They make sure you are comfortable. They are extremely personable and genuine people. Their music just pierces the soul. (Especially Sarah’s singing post-ceremony :))
I’d highly recommend this retreat to anyone. I’ve even convinced my parents to try out a ceremony in the next year!
Register now and you won’t regret it!
I had the great privilege of attending Spirit Plant Journeys’ 10 day San Pedro and Ayahuasca retreat at the Sacred Valley near the town of Urubamba on May 2015 and the experience had profoundly changed my life. As a complete novice with sacred plant medicines, I did extensive research in choosing the right retreat that would work for me. I am very glad that I chose Spirit Plant Journeys for the following reasons:
– The facilitators, Sarah and Neils did an outstanding job in organizing and running the retreat. Sarah and Neils worked incredibly hard to ensure that every participants’ needs were met. I felt safe and comfortable throughout the whole experience knowing that the group is under the care of such capable and responsible hands.
– Gumercindo, the shaman who conducted the four ayahuasca ceremonies is a powerful healer who has extensive experience and vast knowledge of plant medicines and their healing powers. He is a gentle soul who is quite friendly and approachable. While he speaks limited English, talking to him is never a problem as Sarah and Neils are excellent interpreters.
– Bernhard, the Huachumero was our guide for the two San Pedro ceremonies. His calm presence and deep knowledge of the healing powers of San Pedro helped me understand and challenge some of my long standing beliefs and behavior patterns that undermine and block my personal growth. Bernhard is one of those rare souls, wise beyond his years, who is genuinely passionate about helping others.
– Las Chullpas Eco Lodge is the incredible setting of the retreat. It is a secluded property at the foot of Pumahuanca mountain near the town of Urubamba. The lodge is home to 3 wonderful and very friendly dogs, 3 alpacas and a very cuddly cat. Nancy, the manager of the Lodge and her staff did an amazing job taking care of of all of us. The food was plentiful, healthy and nourishing. The rooms are comfortable, immaculately clean and come with a wood-burning fireplace.
– Finally, I chose Spirit Plant Journeys because it offered the unique experience of combining Ayahuasca and San Pedro as part of the healing experience. More than two weeks after I came back home from the retreat, I continue to experience the powerful and positive effects of the medicinal plants which I have grown to respect.
Thank you Neils, Sarah, Gume, Bernhard, Nancy and the wonderful staff at Las Chullpas Eco Lodge. My gratitude also goes to the
dear friends I met- my fellow retreat participants who shared this great experience with me. Till we meet again!
I had a truly wonderful expereince with Spirit Plant Journeys. The Venue is absolutely beautiful, the food is lovely, the medicine is life changing and the facilitators and healers were truly wonderful beyond words. I have never felt more love and authenticity from a group of poeple. The time I spent at this retreat was very tranformational, the medicine itself truly gives you what you need. It really helped me address issues that were deep in my subconscious and gave me direction on how to work through them. Although the work isn’t over after the ceremony. With the wisdom and insight you gain during the retreat you must be willing and able to apply these principles once you leave. I feel as though my heart has been opened and the journey has just begun. I feel so much love for everyone involved in this retreat, It felt like family and I will forever be grateful for what they have given me. Niels and Sarah are so down to earth and so sweet and I would really like to thank them for what they have done for my friends and myself. I am looking forward to reconnecting with everyone soon 🙂
Peace and Love
Words do not fairly describe our life changing experience with Spirit Plant Journeys, located in the Sacred Valley, at the beautiful eco lodge named Lus Chullpas. An amazing earthy atmosphere run by humble locals, with mountains to hike, ruins to explore, hammocks to relax in, pets to play with and fresh organic fruit to eat! Our rooms were very spacious and decorated beautifully with traditional Peruvian designs, as well as a personal fireplace, which kept us warm in the cold nights. It is home to a few animals including three adventurous dogs, a cat named Cappacino and some friendly lamas. The staff working at the lodge are very kind, they are always carrying a positive loving energy, that made us feel very welcome. During the stay I had gotten very ill, the owner of the lodge, Nancy, approached me and asked if she could brew a traditional tea medicine to help my body fight disease, I was so thankful to know she cared about my health, it shows how sincere and caring the people at the lodge are. We visited many ancient Inca ruins on our days off, which was a great inclusion on the retreat. Niels would always have historical stories to share with us along the way, he was like our personal tour guide!
My partner and I had the privilege to meet Bernhard, a Huachumero, and his beautiful family. He carries vast knowledge and understanding of the medicinal cactus, sharing its healing capabilities for the mind, body and soul. A warm hearted, true spirited soul who gave us great comfort, guidance and support during our experience with San Pedro. He would ensure that our needs were taken care of, our questions answered and that we knew how to benefit the most from the ceremonies. Genuinely kind, very approachable and easy to talk to, we couldn’t of asked for anyone better. Thank you kindly for all you did for us during the San Pedro ceremonies!
Our Shaman, Gumecindo, another amazing soul! A true hero, travelling far from within the Amazon Jungle to share his life changing healing abilities with us all. He is a very traditional Shaman, performing powerful ceremonies, like those he has done in the jungle with his family, learning from his father and grandfather over a long period of years. We both felt very safe and comfortable knowing Gume was our Shaman, it truly is his calling to be a healer and a very good one at that! We feel very honoured to have met Gume and have him as our Shaman, we thank you for all you have done Amigo.
From our experience we can say that ayahuasca is a life changing miracle plant from the heavens, and we will support the workings of Spirit Plant Journeys and all involved. If you want to make changes in your life that will give you happiness, love, peace and joy, than SPJ is the place to start, we highly recommend attending their ayahuasca retreat for spiritual growth and self-reward.
Thank you Niels, Sarah, Bernhard, Gumecindo and the staff at Lus Chullpas!
It’s been 2 months since I was in Peru and I’m still receiving the benefits after my retreat with Spirit Plant Journeys. I’ve never felt lighter and more whole in my entire life. Ayahuasca and San Pedro are great tools to explore your unconscious, but most importantly, you need good people around you to make sure you’re safe while you go traveling in your mind. I’m so grateful that I made it to Spirit Plant Journeys. The facilitators, Neils and Sara are beautiful people. They will become your friends and will take good care of you from the get go. Benhard and Gumercindo are great healers with no egos. Combined, they will take you far and help you see what you need to see. I’m writing this review for the people who are like me where I was once looking and searching for the right place, the right retreat, the right people who would provide the right environment to give me the right therapy. I highly recommend Spirit Plant Journeys.
A friend and I where interested in taking Ayahuasca and decided to take the trip to Peru and experience it there. Based on the reviews we read and the fact that we wanted to incorporate Machu Picchu into our trip we decided on Spirit Plant Journeys. Both of us are glad we did.
Neils and Sara have worked very hard to set up a place for people looking to heal and grow. From when you meet up with them in Cusco till when they drop you off back in Cusco eleven days later they are there to help guide you through the sacred valley and beyond.
Las Chullpas is the eco lodge they have chosen for the retreat is located in Urabamba, which is in the sacred valley on the way to Machu Picchu. It is a beautiful little town nestled in the Andes. Located at the edge of town and at the base of the mountain it gives you the feeling of being removed from the world with out actually leaving.
The grounds are very beautiful with lots of little areas to sit, relax and reflect. The rooms that you stay in are basic yet comfortable. No TV?s, no real internet in the rooms (this proves to be a good thing) but the beds are soft and sheets are clean and the plumbing works (by South American standards anyway). All of the buildings are made out of clay and real wood. No sheetrock, no treated wood. My room reminded me of a room that the lost boys from Peter Pan would live in. The whole experience is kind of like adult sleep away camp in the Shire.
There is wifi by the reception area if you need to check in with the rest of the world, but I loved the fact that I did not have easy access to wifi in your rooms. The only time I used my phone was to take a picture or look at the pictures I took. I had no cell service, checked my email every few days? it was like being in the 90?s again.
On days when there is no ceremony you have the option to go and check out some of the many famous Incan ruins in the area. Sara and Neils do a very good job at taking the rains logistically and making sure all transportation, tickets etc. are taken care of. They also do a nice job as tour guides and tying the Incan history in with the experience you are having at the retreat.
The program itself is a very challenging. If you are looking for a fun light psychedelic experience this is not your retreat. If you are looking to really work on yourself and have a truly personal, interstellar experience this may well be the place you are looking for. There is a diet what consists of a lot of no?s. No pork, no red meat, no booze, no drugs, no sexual release at all, (among other) things before, during and after the retreat. Do not let this deter you, I was very skeptical about this when I started my journey but it is very much worth it. It?s all part of the healing process. The food served at Las Chullpas is all within the diet so you don?t need to worry about that when your there.
The Journey starts with San Padro, the ceremony starts in the outside in morning and lasts through the afternoon. Bernard is the San Padro Shaman and is there to help guide you through this experience that is a very introspective and personal as you are asked not to talk (except to Bernard) during the ceremony.
Guma is the Ayahuasca Shaman. This is a much different experience all together. This ceremony is done at night in a yoga studio type setting. Everyone sits in a circle and has a matt, husband, blanket and bucket. Once everyone drinks the candles are blown out and the rest of the ceremony is completely in the dark. Through energy and chants Guma creates an atmosphere for you to take this journey. He truly is a master at what he does. He does not speak a lick of English but it does not matter as the work he does is far beyond words. Neils and Sara do not drink and are there to translate, facilitate and help out in any way that you need during the ceremony. Since it is pitch black in the room they will help you get to and from the bathroom, to the blessing or will just be a soothing voice in a time of need. Guma is also there to help with any energy blockages or rough patches. You can be assured that there is a lot of love in the room and you are well taken care of while you are there.
The programs itinerary has you taking San Padro twice (the very first and very last ceremonies you have at the retreat) and Ayahuasca four times over the 10 days you are at the retreat. There are a few days off sprinkled in so you have time to process rest between ceremonies. The medicines are working inside you the whole time you are there so these days off are often filled with insight and personal breakthroughs.
I wont go into the details of the ceremony and its journey etc. There are plenty of places you can research that, including this site. I will say however, that Ayahuasca should not be feared but should absolutely be respected. The thing I took away from this experience that was most surprising to me was the healing properties of these plants both psychologically and physically. Physical aliments that plagued me before I got there, (bad hips, bad teeth, heart burn) all stopped bothering my while I was there. I am sure the diet and the release of stress has a lot to do with it as the Ayahuasca and San Padro work in concert with the clean living you are doing while you are there. Not to mention all the negative energy you purge and no longer have to carry around with you. I am not saying these things wont come back if you go back to living the lifestyle that you lived which gave you those burdens, but it can give you a clear glimpse of what life can feel like if you live it as a healthier person. The feeling of serenity after Ayahuasca is unlike any I have felt as an adult.
Then after a week and a half of ceremonies that take you across the universe and back you go to Machu Picchu. One of the most amazing places on earth and again, Neils and Sara take care of all the logistics, hotel etc. including a guided tour so you can just enjoy the experience with the new friends that you have make over the week and a half prior.
If you are looking for answers that are within yourself and are not afraid to work for it, I highly recommend Spirit Plant Journeys. They are upfront about your experience. They are not claiming to cure cancer or something grandioso like that. They are very clear from the get go that you will be doing most of the work on this journey and it will be one of the hardest things you will ever do (it certainly was for me), however they are there to create a place where you can do this work in a safe, relaxing environment so you can focus on healing and growing. I believe you will find that all of the work you do will be more then worth it. It was for me.
This was a such a beautiful retreat. Everything from the food to the lodgings and accommodations was great, and perhaps more importantly than that, both of the shamans were knowledgable, experienced, and very helpful. It was my first time working with both medicines and I can’t have imagined having done them with any other shaman.
Both of the facilitators Neils and Sarah were great as well. They always made you feel comfortable and were approachable with any concerns you might have. They’ll even play you music and sing songs to you every day.
The overall vibe of the retreat was very light-hearted and easy during the times there weren’t ceremonies and then respectful during the ceremonies, which seems to have been the perfect combo.
I’d highly recommend this retreat to anyone, especially after having heard some horror stories about other retreat sites, even ones that have great reviews on here.
Stop waiting and just register!
I cannot say enough about this workshop. Sarah and Neils are amazing. They walk the fine line between professional, approachable, human and loving. I hope they become my lifetime friends. The venue was exceptional and the medicine sublime. I loved every minute–even the hard parts. Also, the people who came to the workshop were so great. We really lucked out–each participant was amazing. Regardless of our very good chemistry, know, as a potential future participant, that the shamans, Gume and Bernhard, are crazy capable in their handling of the group with the medicine. It isn’t easy. I have been to aya ceremonies before, and I promise these shamans and these facilitators are exceptional with their craft. If I could give this organization ten stars, I would. WONDERFUL!!!!!
There is a reason you are attracted to utilizing these medicines, and most of us come with a strong intention of what we need to heal/discover/help ourselves with. However, it is important to note that while we have this intention in mind and often have an idea of what we need to release or shift our beliefs on to get there, we are usually no where near any conscious understanding of the web of things that relate to it and what mental and emotional blocks that are limiting us. These spiritual plant medicines bring all of these things to light and show us what it is we need to reflect more on to heal.
While this is absolutely amazing, it can also really catch you off guard at times. For this reason, I cannot stress enough the importance of having good spiritual facilitators and an appropriate environment while committing to this type of work.
I cannot recommend both Gume, the Shaman, and Bernhard, the San Pedro facilitator, enough. From my own experience as well as from observing others in my group, I can say that they both understand how to help you when you need it. They are both experienced, intuitive, and actually care about assisting you in the healing process. I will always have tremendous gratitude and respect for both of them for not only their help but also for the ways that they work with the medicine. Additionally, the ceremony areas are really in alignment with with the work you are doing and also assist you in your process.
Both Niels and Sarah who run the retreat are lovely people who are there to support you in your work and the accommodations at Las Chullpas are very nice (the food is excellent and it’s a bonus that there are very friendly animals that keep you company).
While this retreat is by no means “easy” it is absolutely worth it for those who are called to work with these medicines. Everyone involved genuinely cares about your well-being and is there to help you on your journey.
If you open your heart to these medicines and allow their wisdom to speak to your soul your life will never be the same.
Spirit Plant Journeys went beyond my expectations. My bf and I decided to go on a spiritual healing–did our research and agreed on Spirit Plant Journey. We chose Spirit Plant Journey b/c they answered all of our questions about the shaman and the program throughly and promptly.
We felt truly blessed that we chose this organization b/c they were such a loving group with positive intentions on healing us. It’s kind of scary to go to a group not knowing but we took a chance and had a positive outcome on this group. BUT now you don’t have to go blindly we did the risk taking for you! 🙂
Sarah and Neils are facilitators became our friends and was willing to listen to us and answer any questions we had. Which is important while you are on this retreat because sometimes you just need someone to talk that understands the process. They created a safe environment for us to open up and heal.
The 10 day program they created was thought out very well. I didn’t understand it until I finished the program. It’s important to finish the program! Even though it can be hard to finish the program for some, try to finish. You will be glad you did!
You start off with San Pedro which is a heart opener. Bernard lead us on San Pedro and a great guide, he was. He’s like a wizard when you’re on san pedro. He is there for you every step of the way and is readily available to you. He helps guide you to where you need to go. The night before we got to cut our own San Pedro and answers all your questions. He is really awesome!! Such a bright and great spirit. You also end with San Pedro which gives you a bright closure to your program.
Guime our Ayahuasca shaman. We are really grateful to have him lead our ceremonies. You hear about all the bad shamans out there and it is really hard to find a genuine shaman like Guime. Guime is very versed at his role. He is brought in from the Amzaon to lead these ceremonies. Guime has been working with Ayahausca since he was 16 and was taught an a great icarus to lead the ceremonies. He works incredibly hard to control the room and keep it safe for us to heal. He is there for you every step of the way and is very in tuned with what is going on in the room. He is also very down to earth and is willing to answer your questions and listen to what you have to say. Which is not common with most shamans.
I came to this retreat for healing. I knew deep down that there was a lot of anger and fear in me and didn’t know why I constantly felt these feelings. I was constantly fighting to be the better me on the daily and I was losing the starting to lose the battle. I needed help and found the help I needed.
I knew that I had a tough childhood. My father was very abusive emotionally and physically but really blocked it out most of my life thinking I was “fine.” But I was not fine, I was projecting myself negatively in other ways. The medicine helped me dig deep into my past and i saw what caused all these fears, insecurities anger and depression. After seeing this I was able to reevaluate and understand how to over come these issues. When you see where the problem stems from you know how to fix yourself. I never felt so confident and more in tuned with myself. I learned to just love myself. it is just that simple!
The other stuff. The fun stuff. While you are in this program you meet the most amazing people. We started out as strangers and within the 10 days we became life long friends—which I still keep in contact with. It was amazing to see the transformation in those around you within 10 days. Everyone became lighter and brighter.
The field trips. You get to see Peru! Neils and Sarah are great tour guides as well. They take us to all the ruins and at the end of the trip we got to go to Machu Pichu.
The place. Las Chullpas was such a great eco lodge. All the dogs and animals around become your best friends. The garden is beautiful. It was cozy and intimate. The food is delcious considering we had to fast and be on a special diet. It wasn’t crap! They actually took out the time to make our diet appetizing.
I can’t wait to go back again.
I just returned from my first ever Ayahuasca retreat, and I would like to give an account of my experience.
I first started researching Ayahuasca retreats about a year ago as a means to bring some balance and happiness to my life. I had developed an amazing life and career for myself, but there was something missing. I could no longer properly explain to my family and friends why I was sad. Nobody understood it….including me.
I signed up for a different retreat, but after looking further in to the organization and questioning their motives for running the retreat, I cancelled (and paid a hefty cancellation fee). I was discouraged, but I didn’t give up. This was just too important for me to go in to without 100% surety that I was with the right retreat.
I kept looking, and after further research, I decided to register for Spirit Plant Journeys due to their no bullshit website and their location in the Andes Mountains which seemed definitely preferable over the jungle. I’d heard that Ayahuasca was unpleasant enough without having to live in a mosquito net for 10 days. After I received the first response from Neils (very straight forward without candy coating the experience), I knew this was the place for me.
As the retreat began to approach, I got further correspondence from Neils to start preparing properly for the ayahuasca ceremonies. Vegetarian Diet, no alcohol, no pork, no prescription drugs, etc….
I was excited about the diet and had no problem with that, but…. Whoops. I had been on Valium (Diazepam) for 15 years due to anxiety. How was I supposed to just stop right away? I started cutting down as much as possible, and went through the deepest anxiety/depression that I had ever LET myself go through. During the terrible withdrawals and anxiety I went through, I realized that this medication could have been the root of my problem. I hadn’t let myself feel anything for 15 years. Shit.
When I arrived, I was pretty much a mess as my body could not familiarize itself to not being on medication. However, right when I met Neils and Sarah I felt better. They are amazing people and they made me feel comfortable even though everything inside of me craved the what I was used to. The numbed, mindless bliss that is the brain of a Standard Medicated American Male.
We arrived to the accommodations in the Sacred Valley and I was pleasantly surprised with the absolute beauty of the facilities and the unique character of the rooms. The facilities Supervisor was super nice and we all settled in our rooms to get ready for dinner.
I was still feeling pretty bad…anxious…depressed…scared…pissed…annoyed…dreading talking to people. However, at dinner, I realized I was with a really good group. While everyone was there for different different reasons, it was very apparent we were all there for the right reasons. This wasn’t just an excuse to go fuck off in the woods for 10 days. This was opportunity to really work on ourselves to discover exactly how much we could enjoy life without the usual crutches of alcohol, drugs, or even television. This was a chance to get to know ourselves and to discover how to perpetually improve not only ourselves but the experiences of those around us.
At dinner, I quickly felt more at ease when Neils and Sarah gave all of us a rundown of what to expect for the next 10 days. They reiterated that it wouldn’t be easy for some people, and that we would all have to work very hard. They also gave us an itinerary of the places we would visit on our days off from ceremonies. Most importantly (for me), they made it very clear that they were not our “leaders” and that they were not there to tell us what to do or think. They were simply there to help guide us and give us advice when needed. I found myself more and more hopeful with each passing moment.
The next morning the hope I had had on the previous night was quickly dashed. The first San Pedro ceremony was at 8:30am that morning and I had a very rough time. My anxieties completely took a hold of me, and I basically spent 12 hours on San Pedro with a deep dreadful stroll through anxious turmoil. It was pointed out to me that I was actually feeling every emotion that I had never allowed myself to during the 15 years on Diazepam. It was tough. I had to face all these anxieties head on and it was excruciating. I wanted to go home. I couldn’t understand why I had allowed myself to even contemplate this horrible experience.
Bernard, the facilitator for the San Pedro ceremony was extremely supportive, and talked me down through what I thought was a certain tragedy that would forever scar my psyche throughout the rest of my miserable anxious life. If it wasn’t for Bernard, I don’t know what I would have done.
However, when the ceremony was over, something magical happened. My body was now experiencing ZERO withdrawal from the Diazepam. If you know anything about this “medication” and the people who had been on it as long as I had, you know that some people experience acute withdrawal for 6 months to a YEAR. I had only been off 2 days and the symptoms I had felt that very morning were completely gone. I was free.
I cautiously went to bed that night, dreading trying to contemplate sleep without Diazepam. But I slept. The San Pedro, no matter how miserable I was while finally facing my fears and emotions, had rewired the energies in my brain. It is day 14 as I type this and I am still off the medication with no desire to ever get back on it. However, I would not recommend taking any medication so close to the retreat. If you can, you should get off medication at least a month before the ceremony so you don’t have to go through what I went through. More on that later, maybe.
With the San Pedro fully flushing the medication out of my brain waves, I was ready for the Ayahuasca ceremonies, which occurred on the 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th nights of the retreats. I don’t want to get too much in to my ayahuasca experience because everyone is different and has their own journeys, but I can tell you that these were some of the most amazing moments of my life. They were also some of the hardest. Our Shaman, Gumercindo, was unbelievably amazing. I have never met an individual with such amazing energy. He is truly a good, talented, healer, and I will never forget his presence during those nights. I will leave this section short, because I will never be able to properly explain my experience to anyone using words. It is just simply amazing what a plant can help you feel.
We finished the ceremonies with a final day of San Pedro. I am happy to report is was nothing like my experience on day one. I was happy, exuberant, and full of life. A perfect ending to the ceremony portion of the trip. The plants had taught me in the span of 6 days what my mind couldn’t teach in 34 years.
The Field Trips
Neils and Sarah went through great lengths to organize amazing outings throughout different towns/attractions in the area. We went to Lares, Pisac, Ollataytambo, and ultimately, Machu Picchu. Having the peace of mind from the ceremonies while experiencing these amazing sites was an a journey all in itself. The comradery of the group was an added bonus to these amazing ventures. We had all arrived very vulnerable and in different stages of grief, but had quickly become a tight-knit group. We were all there for each other.
The food on the outings and especially at the lodge was incredible. I never knew that eating healthy could be so delicious and rewarding. I looked forward to what was in store at every meal.
At the end of the retreat, I realized many things I hadn’t thought about before.
I realized that I had been completely ignoring myself for a long time. Focusing on work and doing anything possible to not contemplate my own existence. I also realized that contemplating my existence, feelings, and fears was really fucking hard! But I know how to do it now. The ayahuasca ceremonies made me accurately aware of how my body reacts to stress and anxiety. I now know how to recognize it and deal with it before it sweeps me away in to an unbearable depression. I now know how to relax….to breath in to my problems.
Thanks to my new friends I met at Spirit Plant Journeys; my group, Bernard, Neils, Sarah, and Gume, I now know that anxiety and depression is just a way of thinking. Thoughts are just thoughts. It’s how you react to those thoughts that defines how you live your life. Love yourself, love others, be open and compassionate and willing to accept things you might not understand. Breathe.
I don’t know if I will ever fully comprehend exactly how much this experience with Spirit Plant Journeys has changed my life for the better. But I also learned that I don’t have to understand everything, so I will take this opportunity to thank you again and I look forward to what the future will hold.
I will not even attempt to describe the plant medicines themselves, to squish the amazing experience I had into fumbling words couldn’t ever do it justice. And the same is true for the beautiful environment and people outside of ceremony, but I will try.
I feel very lucky to have been in the group I was and have so much love for the people both taking part in and working to make this retreat happen. They were nothing short of hospitable in terms of accommodations, but the care extended far beyond that. Sarah, Neils, Bernhard and Gume each offered a unique and dynamic awareness and care to each aspect of this retreat both inside and outside ceremony that I can’t imagine being matched anywhere, in care, authenticity or thoughtfulness.
It will be impossible not to come back again soon after such a changing experience. For those ready to come and do the work, you will get it back tenfold. Endless thank yous Spirit Plant Journeys!
I have to say this is one of the best experiences I ever had. From beginning to end the atmosphere was focused but not overly critical. The owners Niels and Sarah were fantastic to have as our facilitators. These individuals practice what they preach by not preaching at all. They lead by example by creating an atmosphere that allows for much opportunity to occur. I came with a intention and had my expectations more than met… They were blown out of the water in the most profound and beautiful ways. The healers Gumercindo and Bernard are masters of their craft. They are real people with real abilities to heal through the medicine.
It was nice to be able to see the sights of Peru but still remain on the objective of healing. I was more than pleased to receive good communication with the owners on how to mentally and physically prepare for the new journey I am now on. I am forever changed by the experience I had from April 7th-17th. I highly recommend this retreat for anyone else seeking real growth and self-empowerment. Don’t be fooled by other programs’ hype and false promises.
I will definitely be back for another journey with this company. Niels and Sarah are now friends for life. Upwards and onwards. Cheers to the invisible. Love.
I just finished a retreat with Spirit Plant Journeys, and the experience exceeded all expectations (and mine were already very high)! From start to finish, Neils and Sarah were very attentive, thoughtful, and welcoming. Before even arriving in Peru, Neils was very communicative and easy to reach. He made sure everyone was prepared for the trip, by sending all kinds of helpful pre-travel information and instructions for the retreat. When I arrived, I felt at home right away.
The facilities at SPJ were far more luxurious than I anticipated, and the lodge is even more incredible in person than it appears on the website. My room was very charming and tidy, and came with a fireplace, hot water, and daily housekeeping service. Even though we had to stick with the ayahuasca diet, the food was amazing! We had three well-balanced meals a day, except on fasting days of course, and I felt great eating such healthy food, fresh fruits and vegetables. Drinking water and coca tea are provided at all times, and there?s wifi on the premises.
The retreated included 6 ceremonies, two San Pedro and four ayahuasca. I really liked how they incorporated both masculine and feminine plants, so we had a very comprehensive experience with the medicines. Bernard was our healer for the San Pedro ceremonies, and he was fantastic! He was extremely adept, mindful, and had a profound understanding and appreciation of his plants. Gume was the shaman for the ayahuasca ceremonies, and when you meet him, you immediately know you are in excellent hands. We were so fortunate to be working with such a skilled, well-regarded master of ayahuasca!
Personally, I connected beautifully with the medicines and had a very transformative experience. Neils and Sarah stressed the importance of setting your intentions beforehand, and I felt like I met (or surpassed!) mine every time. Even though the ceremonies can be incredibly intense, mentally and physically, the rewards far outweighed the discomforts. Now that the retreat is over, I feel like a new person, with a much deeper understanding of myself and the world around me. That being said, I would strongly recommend doing your research on ayahuasca, how the ceremonies are performed, and the potential effects and side effects before you drink so you know what you?re getting yourself into.
Even when we weren’t exploring the magic of the medicines, there was always something for us to do, whether it was a hiking excursion, yoga classes, zip lining, or a trip to the hot springs. They even arranged for a masseuse to give us massages! Good luck finding all that at any other retreat!
Lastly, one of the most amazing things about my time with Spirit Plant Journeys, that I certainly did not expect, was such a strong feeling of camaraderie with my fellow retreat-goers. Everyone I met was so kind, genuine, and open-minded. Even though we were only together for 10 days, I feel like I?ve known everyone for ages! I definitely made some wonderful friends during the trip that I will be staying in touch with long after this is over.
Of course it goes without saying that I will absolutely be back next time I am in need of some spiritual healing and soul searching. And even if I didn?t want to drink any more ayahuasca (which would be crazy talk!), it?d be worth it to come down to Peru just to have Neils and Sarah serenade me with their beautiful guitar-playing and singing. Thanks so much Spirit Plant Journeys for the most memorable trip of my life!
Spirit plant journeys changed my life. On one of my four experiences I had a kundalini awakening. I experienced a complete detachment from mind and body and was embraced in spiritual ecstasy. It was the most pure experience in my life and the closest I have ever been to God.
I spent 10 days with Spirit Plant journeys in March of 2015, and I could not have chosen a better group to go with. I had so many questions before attending the retreat, and Neils was wonderful with answering all of my emails and walking me through the process of what I could expect. The result is that I arrived at the trip feeling incredibly well prepared. The photos on the website made the retreat center look nice, but I honestly had no idea how absolutely gorgeous it would be. It’s like a paradise there, tucked into the side of the mountain. Flowers fill every part of the grounds, and there are the most lovely dogs that greet you every day and even a baby llama. Neils and Sarah are extraordinary people who helped us with ever detail and really inspired us to be brave with the process of using plant medicine. The two shamans we worked with were so caring and supportive. Bernhard is a light energy worker who knew the exact ways to guide us through our use of San Pedro. And Gomae is an unbelievable shaman. The work was hard, but the payoffs incredible. When not in ceremony the retreat provided yoga and massage and wonderful field trips. I am deeply grateful for my experience with this group, and could not recommend them more.
I just got back from a 10 day retreat with Spirit Plant Journeys. The experience was far better than I could have imagined it to be. Everything from the people, the setting, and the medicine were all beautiful. It was very challenging working with the medicine, but the rewards and gains far outweigh any hardships. Neils and Sarah are two exceptional guides who go out of their way to make sure you are informed and comfortable. I recommend following the diet and guidelines the best you can.
I had such an amazing and inspiring time here and I highly recommend it to anyone considering. Thank you to Neils and Sarah for their work.
I really can’t express my gratitude to these guys enough. It would be an understatement to say that I have been around the block a time or two. I did not show up as a naive tourist with wide eyes and foggy notions. I have experienced a lot of modalities and have a pretty discerning eye for the real deal. I came to Spirit Plant Journeys with an objective and focus.
I say all of this knowing full well it may sound arrogant and I say this to highlight the true pleasure it was to have found this place.
Not only were the accommodations charming and warm, the people who run and facilitate it were exceptional in their kindness, generosity and willingness to share whatever knowledge they had.
One key factor that stood out was the complete lack of superiority or “know it all-ness” by the shamans and facilitators. They made it clear from the the moment we met that they hold no special powers, are not here to fix or change us. They have, however invested their lives in making themselves effective facilitators so that the participants can be engaged in their own self discovery and transformation so that they leave the center with something powerful and applicable without the need to be dependent on some shaman or guru.
That being said, it was also clear that we were being supported by some highly evolved individuals. There was a particular clarity and authenticity they had that allowed our entire group to let our guard down and have a profound evolution together. We walked in as strangers and out as family.
The mix of rigor and relaxation was a great blend for me (even though I tend to ere in thinking that harder = better).
Mixing the day trips in with the ceremonies was a great balance and did not disrupt our progress.
I am sure there are many great centers who offer ceremonies and I can not speak for them. All I can say is that I am forever grateful for this experience and plan on returning next year ready to see what’s next.
I was the oldest of the group (56, female) and consider myself religious but have never used any sort of psychedelics, drugs, or even rarely drink alcohol. I would like to separate the facilitators (Neils and Sarah) from the facility and from the experience itself, and give you some assurances regarding the issues that I was concerned about, as well as a few other practical considerations to think about.
1). Yes, you can trust them with your money. At the time we did our retreat, they requested downpayment via wire transfer. When you get to the Western Union or Moneygram office, you are STRONGLY CAUTIONED NOT to wire transfer unless you personally know the people/business. One of the ladies (Boston area) was even refused and had to go to her bank (where the fee is higher).
2). Initial communications. They seemed a bit disconnected/disorganized or not answering the questions I was asking. Now that I have been there, I see it is because they are working VERY hard to meet the group needs as well as working closely to meet the myriad of needs of the individual participants. In addition, the internet connection does not work well for this city (Urubamba). One of the participants had purchased a cell data plan and seemed to be using it a lot. I went with AT&T passport that is mainly text, so was relying on WIFI for using the internet, which was very slow when the city wakes up and starts getting on-line. Also, when they are not hosting retreats, Neils and Sarah are often traveling to the Amazon (or other areas) so I suspect connectivity is often a challenge for them as well.
3) Seemed the best way to communicate with them was via email. Neils phone did not take texts (internationally)? However, once I got to Cusco and figured out how to make a ‘local’ phone call, I was able to talk to him. What I am trying to say is that communication difficulties are not due to them trying to avoid you. They WILL do everything they can to assist you.
-Also, I DID have incapacitating altitude sickness upon arrival in Cusco and he went above and beyond to help me: called the hotel staff for me (I speak no Spanish), and helped me get my delayed bag at the airport. Neils and Sarah are kind hearted and caring people who will do ‘what needs to be done’ to help you, not in a ‘concern for business’ sense, but because of the loving people they are.
NOTE: I have skied at altitude, do interval training, drank the tea, which is supposed to help, etc. and was still sick. I prefer a no medicine policy – but I would make a back-up plan with Neils regarding the altitude meds. Was glad I had 24 hours to recover before the retreat. Don’t cut it too close if you can possibly arrange your work schedule. And Cusco is a fascinating city worthy of more than your before and after trip overnights.
The program: I am extremely grateful to have had such a high caliber retreat experience and NOT have to go into the Amazon. I found the experience of Peru travel and the medicine quite challenging, and frankly would have been miserable adding the rigors of an Amazonian dimension to it. I feel they put together a well paced retreat experience where you also get their experience in taking you to the Sacred Valley sites. Definitely do the post-retreat Machu Picchu visit. They know the ‘drill’ and good hotel/restaurants. They even hire a guide to take the group through Mapi (that was a bonus I didn’t realize we were getting). Oh, they asked if we wanted to do any additional hikes. You can do Mapi proper or even huanya picchu, which you will read about on tripadvisor, etc as being the ultimate. I was SO GRATEFUL our group said no additional. With just the normal tour, my fitbit recorded 20,000+steps for the day and 281 flights of stairs. I consider myself to be in pretty good shape, but was generally tired a lot of the time from the retreat experience and the altitude. I would not push yourself to do extra exertion.
About the retreat you select: What I learned while on this one is that your experience will be greatly impacted by the other participants. We ended up with about 12. When you are in the throws of aya (for me it was never ‘pleasant’ – although it WAS for some) you do not want to be surrounded by a huge number of uncomfortable people. There WILL be moaning and violent purging, and the sounds all seem magnified. Check the likely group size. Spiritplant seems it will never be too large due to the amount of space available at the hotel/retreat they use. Also, people, please be somewhat informed and prepared for what you are getting in to. Several people who weren’t ended up leaving after a few days.
The shaman (Gume) works incredibly hard to control what is happening in there (the ceremony room=maloka). I was shocked to learn that some places use recorded music or such (and have huge groups). Our shaman travels from the Amazon with his brew and started his training at the age of 14.
Also, you are relying on your facilitators for your health and safety, so to me it was important that they were not under the influence of the medicine when we were. The shaman (who has been drinking it since age 14) always drinks, as it helps him guide/help the participants. *One thing the shaman did was after the first night, he changed something about the intensity of the brew. For me, it made it difficult to calibrate how much to drink the next few times.
Tobacco (not cigarettes) is used as part of the ceremony. I am very sensitive to smoke of all kinds. I was surprised at the number of smokers in our group. In theory, tobacco in the enclosed space is only supposed to be used as part of the ceremony. As the days progress and people become more familiar, this policy started to disintegrate. So when I asked that it be upheld, it was. However, it was uncomfortable for me that it was being done ‘for me’ (I was not the only person bothered by it). From a group dynamic point of view, it seems better that these just be policy/procedural issues vs. ‘we can’t smoke in here because it bothers (insert name_______). Also, the casual use of profanity (FREQUENTLY) and words such as ‘pussy’ in casual conversation became intolerable to me and I finally spoke with Neils about it. He was kind and concerned and mentioned it to the group (as did I), but again, people were apologizing to me personally. Which I found awkward. This was a group of spiritually evolved (or trying to be) people who saw no connection between disrespectful and vulgar language as a toxin to themselves and everyone who is subjected to hearing it. I do not know the solution to this, other than perhaps there could be a statement in the Spiritplant prep list regarding.
The eco-retreat facility itself is beyond beautiful (photos do not capture it). That said, I do think they need to invest in a few oil-filled radiator heaters. They are safe and it just got to be too much being cold all the time. There are ‘fireplaces’ in the rooms, but I was too concerned about how much smoke would be generate to try to use it (and people seemed to have difficulty starting fires).
They food was far tastier than I could have expected, and you can walk down to the end of the street to the corner store to add in a few provisions if needed (i.e. nuts, chocolate:-), etc.
The medicine: The San Padro was a ‘bonus’ that I had not really focused on, having read/researched the most about aya. Neither were pleasant for me. I tried not to have ‘expectations’ going into the retreat, other than healing from a painful divorce, and all the personality traits/life issues that are involved with getting into and staying in a relationship that winds up in a painful divorce. I did not have any ‘breakthrough’ revelatory experiences, found the physical sensations uncomfortable, etc. but have waited to write my comments until I got home. I have been home about a week, and am pleased with the outcome so far. My anxiety is less and feels more manageable plus I have a stronger sense that everything will work out according to God’s plan. My eyes have not hurt. For the last year or two, when I would get stressed/anxious it all came out through my eyes.
I now better understand all the comments written about aya, it is a start, it gives each person what they need, relax, breathe, you are in control, the universe will guide you, etc.
I did for a fleeting moment in a ceremony see a divine light so bright that even in my minds eye I had to turn away. My mind/concentration was not strong enough to hold me in that moment, but I have that image/feeling to turn to when I feel distressed.
So like childbirth, I don’t think we fully realize what we are getting ourselves into or we wouldn’t do it. I really hope to not do aya again, but I am very grateful that I did this, and especially at that place and with these people.
I would not hesitate to recommend Spiritplant, and as they integrate lessons from each group they facilitate, am confident that they will only improve. We were group 9 and they have started #10 as of Jan 2015.
p.s. If you want an idea of what aya brew tastes like. Buy a bottle of swedish bitters. It will help acclimate you to the ‘bitter’ aspect of flavors which we don’t use much in our society any more. If you add some chewing tobacco juice, you will probably be close to the taste (dont really do that last part). Also, regarding the San Pedro. In many hispanic markets they sell fresh nopal cactus ‘paddles’ with the thorns removed. Blend that in a green smoothie drink (get a fresh aloe leaf and use some of the clear inner flesh). Make it as minimally sweet as possible. This will be a similar taste and texture as the San Pedro. It is ‘viscous and mucilaginous’ (good for your intestines) and prepares you for the ‘slimy’ texture that made SP difficult for some to drink.
There were some amazing stories at our retreat. It was practically the first airplane trip for one young man – so definitely go, don’t let fear or travel inexperience stop you and if you can learn some spanish in advice, your experience will be enriched. The Peruvian people are warm and I never felt unsafe there.
My experience with Spirit Plant Journeys is something that I’m not really sure I can put into words. Actually, I know there is a great portion that could never be put into words, but the rest I will attempt to articulate… Overall, it was nothing short of amazing. Through and through, a deeply profound, beautiful and life changing experience. The insights and lessons I’ve learned here are priceless and it’s one of, if not, THE most meaningful experience I’ve ever had in my life. Having such awesome facilitators and shamans to guide me through the experience was definitely key, big thanks to Neils, Sarah, Bernard and Gume. They are always there for you and whatever you may need, so you can relax knowing you’re in great hands, and of course the gorgeous, lush and cozy lodging area didn’t hurt either! I feel beyond lucky to have gotten so many great things from one place, and I would recommend anyone who is looking for a safe, comfortable, and powerfully transformative retreat to look no further! Thank you Spirit Plant Journeys!
Wow where do I begin? I just went on the most intense inner spiritual journey of my lifetime. I’m feeling extreme gratitude for my experience and for Neils, Sara, Bernard and Gume the shaman. What sets this retreat apart is the epicly beautiful location in the sacred valley. The jungle setting isn’t for everyone so this was a really pleasant place to do something like aya and San Pedro. The combo of the two medicines was extremely transformational for me. I plan on going into more detail as I document my experiences in a blog on mysticbabe.com in the near future.
As for the facilitators, Neils and Sara couldn’t have been more perfect for this. They’re experienced with the medicine, and are continually working to make sure we were comfortable and happy. I asked a trillion and one questions and they were always answered with compassion and patience. The food is great (exept when it’s not supposed to be on ceremony days) and the rooms are quaint. It’s basically like high end camping. The weather and rooms get a bit cold in that area so be sure to bring warm clothes and a good attitude. The day trips and exursions are great and all the work is done for you so all you have to do is show up with a smile.
Bernard, the San Pedro medicine man was an integral part in my journey. He has such a profound understand of the plant and of life itself. He’s one of the wisest and kindest spirits I’ve ever met and I feel so blessed to have worked with him.
This is a unique and comfortable way to experience your aya journey. I highly recommend it to anyone ready for this transformation. Aya is not for the faint of heart. Buckle your seat belts and prepare for a wild ride. I love you spirit plant journeys !!
Sarah and Neils put together an amazing retreat. It far exceeded my expectations and I can really say that this was a truly life changing experience. The ceremonies led by the shamans were always an amazing experience. They create a space where you can truly connect with the medicine and the people who will eventually become your closest friends. The excursions were an awesome addition to the San Pedro and Ayahuasca ceremonies they picked amazing ruins to visit and I highly suggest going on the Machu Picchu excursion at the end. If you want a retreat that includes amazing facilitators, loving, friendly shamans and a BEAUTIFUL venue. Spirit Plant Journeys is the place to go. Real people, real experiences, amazing friendships. You will not be disappointed.
We really thank the Universe to show us our shamanic jourey to retreat of Spirit Plant Journeys in Sacred Valley. We found here amazing fascilitators, whose work is not about the profit. We also appreciate a very clean and comfortable accomodation, lovely food, good room service and whole pleasant enviroment of Las Chullpas. Sarah, Neils and Nancy are very kind and helpful people. They allow us to stay there one more day before and after retreat. The Shamanic rituals was life changed experience. It opened us to higher self and
Set in a beautiful eco lodge nestled in the Sacred Valley there is a calming and tranquil vibe and a good setting for the sometimes intense healing ceremonies. The food was healthy and abundant and well catered. The lodgings couldn’t have been better with hot water, comfortable beds and rooms cleaned every day. Trips to ancient sites and markets were a bargain and not to be missed.
But the real thing I came for was the ceremonies especially the Ayahuasca medicine which I had returned to Peru after 8 years to do again. The Amazonian Ayahuascero Guermacindo kept us all safe and guided through the journeys and his powerful singing voice just blew me away. I have such a deep respect for this shaman if I ever do the medicine again I would want Guermacindo to be there.
My compliments to the facilitators and staff at Spirit Plant Journeys for this great Ayahuasca experience, I learnt and saw a lot on my ceremonies and it’s still working positive changes in my life. The added extra to sacred Macchu Picchu is not to be missed.
Mitch Hargreaves (Australia)
I was very lucky to find out about this retreat and am very happy to have experienced what Ayahuasca and San Pedro had to show and teach me. Neils and Sarah are both very helpful and accommodating, when staying at the retreat and taking part in the ceremonies. I felt very comfortable and safe in the retreat environment and confident with the facilitators and shamans. There is definitely something to be gained and discovered when taking ayahuasca and San Pedro, you will go home with a new sense of yourself and perhaps a new perspective or ability to face your fears or whatever is hindering you from living life. I would recommend this retreat to anybody who is looking to have a safe, comfortable and fun experience with ayahuasca and san pedro. Thank you so much Neils and Sarah!
Here is my review. I decided to go to this retreat with Neils and Sarah because of the type of people they seem to be to me. Once i was there it couldn’t be better than that, they are attentionate, sympathetic, extremely helpful with the preparation of the journey. We could ask any question and we were able to feel at ease with them. They are now my friends and they have a big part in my heart.
The venue was amazing, all the staff and the cooking of nancy was amazing! Inka trails are 30 sec walk from there to! The trip seriously changed my life. I was sick when i got there and i seriously seen a big change in my problem! The Shamans are really helpful during the ceremony! Magic happens during those ceremony! I am still speechless from the experience i had there.If anybody want to have a spiritual journey, this is the place to go!
I found the group, the facilitators Sarah and Neils and the whole experience incredibly beneficial.
The work of Gumercindo and Bernhard and the spiritual journey that they guide you through was amazing. The help of Neils and Sarah through my journey here in Peru has helped me greatly. Without I would be a lost soul in Peru!
I want to highly recommend this retreat to all of my friends or to anybody who knows of me in Australia, Slovakia or within the glass art world.
I loved the experience so much that I have decided to participate in a second retreat! Two in a row!
Sara & Neils – my friends
It was the first time leaving my country & embarking on an exciting journey. Arriving in Cusco & meeting you two was the most excellent. You two made me feel very comfortable in your presence. I’m so glad I was able to hang out with you two & the members of the retreat. A spiritual journey I will remember forever. Thank you so much for creating such a wonderful experience. & to all who are debating if you should attend, you’ll be in great hands!!! Las Chullpas is beautiful environment, cared for by people who have the passion for it. Thanks again, hope to visit you all in the future.
I have just returned from quite the epic adventure with Neils and Sara from Spiritplant Journeys. Landing in Peru I was unsure what to expect; but was blown away from the start.
Spiritplant Journeys facilitates an itinerary packed with exploration of the self and the environment around you. We were treated to treks through the wonders of Peru, amazing food and accommodations, and oh yes, the magic of the medicine.
Ayahuasca is in itself an observation of the unseen. The real treat, however, is its coupling with the San Pedro cactus, whose legend began in the same Sacred Valley in which you will be staying. The combination of feminine and masculine plants enables you to have a complex and complete exploration of your relationship with existence. This coupling is incredibly important and is what really separates Spiritplant Journeys from the rest!
We love Neils and Sara for the absolute care they took of us, and their unwavering love.
Just go-you will never regret it!
The Spiritplant Journeys organization facilitated the most personally expansive, eye opening and liberating experiences of my life. From hospitality and accommodation to understanding and gentle guidance through what memorable adventure followed, the facility and its loving caretakers weaved a beautiful tapestry for me to witness upon my own becoming. I was personally certain, once laying eyes on pictures of the two guides’ warming smiles and confident, knowledgeable energies, Neils and Sarah, that I wanted to behold such an awakening in their company. Literally one of the best decisions of my life. The Shaman they invited to spear-head our ceremonies are the most powerful and comforting beings I have yet to encounter a parallel to. The food provided (according to the supplemental diet) is gourmet and quite incongruent to anything my imagination “cooked up” for an experience as such, complimented by always stocking fresh native fruit in a nearby bowl just at arm’s reach. The cottage environment I stayed in is star quality and slightly exotic over its rustic foundation. The grounds are gorgeous to walk through and lounge about in, be it a nearby hammock, stone bench or plush turf grass which beds the entire area. Everything was adeptly organized, from train rides and bus passes to exciting hikes around the Incan plain’s ancient ruins and ever-pleasant bartering in adjacent town’s markets. I am forever thankful of my experience held and of those wonderful faces who walked with me along the way. Much love. Bryon Stolle II
What a beautiful experience this trip was. I attended this trip in September 2014 and it was simply incredible. Beautiful location, great accommodations and an amazing group of people hosting this event.
The way the two San Pedro ceremonies and the four Ayahuasca ceremonies worked in conjunction with each other to provide a very well balanced experience with connections to the heart and soul was simply amazing. The opportunity to experience both medicines while also working in some time to explore the Sacred Valley was simply too good of an opportunity to pass up.
My soul called to me to attend this retreat and it definitely did not miss. If I knew I would get 1/10th of what I experienced on this trip I would have been ecstatic. As it stands now I have left this place reborn. Life is now so much different through my eyes and I have to thank the entire SpiritPlantJourneys team for making this experience possible and sharing your knowledge and hearts with a group of inquisitive and open minded souls from around the world.
I am enormously grateful for the profound, life-changing experience that you provided on our Spirit Plant Journey in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The venue was a unique slice of Peruvian artistic paradise. The meals were delicious. The organic gardens glorious. The retreat pets became our guardian animal spirits. But most of all it was the beautiful care that Neils and Sarah took of my fragile heart and the astounding spiritual and medicinal powers of our Amazonian Sharman Guermacindo that made my retreat so divine.
Thank you my friends