Brazil is one of the main tourist destinations in South America. It has long white sandy beaches and the untouched wilderness of the Amazon and Atlantic rainforest for you to explore. But the cultural and historical importance of the nation also attracts large numbers of visitors every year.
One of those cultural attractions is undoubtedly the chance to experience ayahuasca, the brew which has found relatively recent fame around the world. Many people who visit Brazil to experience ayahuasca visit or stay in Itacaré, a small, paradisiacal town on the Bahian coast.
Here you’ll find the ultimate guide to visiting Brazil for ayahuasca.
Itacare is located north of IIheus and south of Salvador. It’s a popular destination for hikers and surfers, and has stunning picturesque beaches along the coast. It’s a hub of tradition and culture. And, with it being in the part designated as a UNESCO heritage site, you’ll be able to visit the breathtaking Atlantic rainforest with ease during your visit.
There are parties and dance festivals to take part in, restaurants with delicious vegan and vegetarian options, also traditional Brazilian food and music, and art exhibitions to enjoy on a regular basis.
IIheus airport is the nearest to Itacare. Hundreds of airlines offer cheap flights to suit all budgets. Search online to get the best deals as you may be able to find great flight and hotel packages.
Taxi and Shuttle Transfers
Private taxi and shuttle transfers are available at discounted prices – and if you choose transfers by taxi your group will travel in a vehicle which will only be for your exclusive use. You can arrange for a driver to wait for you at the airport with a name sign – and all the costs are fixed.
You don’t need a hotel or hostel when you’re on your Ayahuasca journey, because you will be accommodated at the retreat center. One of the top rated ayahuasca centers in the world is located just 15 minutes from Itacare, and it is set in the middle of the Atlantic rainforest with some of the best beaches of Itacare (and Brazil) just 5 minutes driving from the center.
The Use of Ayahuasca
Ayahuasca is an Amazonian plant that’s been used for centuries by ayahuasqueros throughout Brazil to help restore balance and health to individuals. A traditional ayahuasca brew will be prepared safely and taken by a group in a controlled environment.
The psychedelic effects include visual stimulation that can lead to great elation and illumination. People who have drunk ayahuasca report having mystical experiences and spiritual revelations with regards to their purpose, and feel that they accessed higher spiritual dimensions.
Taking ayahuasca is profoundly therapeutic when done in the right set and setting. Well trained and experienced retreat facilitators will be able to relate to many spiritual, mental, emotional and physical issues – sharing personal experiences to help guide others through the same process. According to various traditions, sharing is the key to maintaining a healthy, balanced life, and this journey of self-healing and discovery is significantly supported by the drinking of the combination of ayahuasca vine and chacruna plants.
Going on an Ayahuasca Retreat
In modern times, special ayahuasca retreat centers have been created to host ayahuasca experiences. One such retreat is the Spirit Vine Ayahuasca Retreat center near Itacare in Bahia. Every aspect of this retreat is designed to ensure you achieve a state of harmony before, during and after your journey.
The center has the following features to ensure a safe ayahuasca experience:
- Clean and well maintained throughout the year
- Harmonious with the natural surroundings
- Free from alcohol, tobacco and drugs
- Dedicated to those who want to connect with their essence at a deeper level
- Offers ceremonies (optional), spiritual workshops and (as an added bonus) yoga classes
- Comfortable accommodation in bungalows with panoramic views of the jungle
- Experienced guides to take you through preparation and after-care
- Trans-denominational and inter-faith
One of the main benefits of choosing a trusted center is that you’ll experience ayahuasca in a safe and responsible setting. Other things you might like to look out for which can give an indication that your chosen center is going to provide a safe experience might include:
- Focus on care for the surrounding land, such as involvement in reforestation or regenerative development
- Growing its own organic ayahuasca vine and chacruna plants (this is usually a good indicator that the brew will be made with loving care and attention)
- Modern safety and insurance policies
- Provision of after-care and post-retreat integration support
As well as being a deeply spiritual experience, many people have commented that their journey with ayahuasca has had a positive effect when it comes to coming to terms with various difficulties or issues they may have faced in their private life. These have included:
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Accepting sexual identity
- Traumatic past experiences
- Spiritual beliefs
- Improving relationships
- Cutting out toxic habits
If you are intending to try ayahuasca for this reason, it’s vitally important that you do so with the help of a trained facilitator able to accept and keep you safe through your ayahuasca ceremony.
You should always be given the help and advice you need to know how to eat healthy prior to your ayahuasca ceremony. This preparation is usually viewed as essential. Studies have shown that certain foods are contra-indicated to the experience. Your system must be free from all narcotics, barbiturates, antihistamines and cold remedies as well as alcohol, for example.
Following the latest research on nutrition dietary restrictions, it’s advisable to include no salt, sugar, strong spices, or fermented food in your diet either. These recommendations should be adhered to both before and following your retreat.
Ayahuasca-friendly diets can be found at several local cafés in Itacare – serving extensive vegan and vegetarian menus and selections of juices. Ayahuasca is widely accepted in this part of the world as a positive experience.
The traditional practice will usually take place during hours of darkness at most retreat centers. It is almost always a powerful spiritual experience which, done right, will open you up to a greater awareness during a ritual that’s deep, safe and supportive. Music is often a part of the experience. Always carefully chosen to trigger, encourage and guide you.
This isn’t just an ayahuasca trip. It’s a traditional ritual that can change your life.