On the porch

On the porch

I took a 12 day trip to Cuenca, Ecuador to take part in plant medicine ceremonies this past November. I decided to come here shortly after leaving my 9-5 job to find a new direction in life and to learn to connect with higher wisdom.

I picked Gaia Sagrada for the opportunity to work with both types of plant medicine and the many good reviews on ayaadvisors.org.

Here’s my review on Aya Advisor:

I was blessed with the opportunity to arrive here in this beautiful place for a 12-day retreat. It’s really magical place with serenity and glitter (yup, you’ll be getting some)! 🙂

If you’ve properly done some research and feel it’s right for you, I would HIGHLY recommend Gaia Sagrada. It was my first experience working with plant medicine and I really enjoyed Ayahuasca, San Pedro, and Sweat Lodge as they all work in synergy to help whatever intentions you put forth. I did not partake in the special Peyote teepee ceremony nor private Ayahuasca session but you might get a chance to on your retreat! I really enjoyed how the shamans held the maloka space during ceremonies and I’ll always remember the hauntingly beautiful icaros that Salvadore sang. All I can say is that plant medicines are something beautiful to be experienced and has been the most profound experience of my life thus far!

The dorm accommodations were comfortable, food was yummy after being on dieta for 2 weeks prior, yoga sessions were relaxing, and WiFi was great to keep in touch with loved ones! The surrounding area is a beautiful 55-acre space for you to roam free and there is an opportunity to go hiking to the waterfall too. Karma yoga wasn’t too bad either as I did dishes, weeding, and gardening the San Pedro Garden (it’s beautiful too).

Thank you so much for Salvadore, Santiago, Sofia, Christine, Jerry, and many of the volunteers and attendees. I’m grateful that such an enchanted space exists for those who need healing. I will remember all the friends I’ve made during the retreat and how much of a bond we came home with, enough to come visit them on my travels next year. I’ve taken much from my experiences and still integrating what I’ve learned weeks after as well as trying out new practices for spiritual growth. Much love and good vibrations to everyone. Hope you are able to find your way to this magical place.

There are other benefits I have listed in my review with Trip Advisor:

“Didn’t even know that such a beautiful sanctuary existed! On the high mountains of Ecuador (~8000 ft), I had one of the most profound experiences of my life! The retreat place was on a 55-acre something piece of land with plenty of quiet space if needed. The best thing was that there were no mosquitos and the temperature was comfortable. Somewhat cold in the mornings and warming up later in the day, definitely pack something warm.

This was my first experience but here are some reasons I chose this place over some others: working with multiple plant medicines accompanied by a sweat lodge ceremony, English-speaking shamans, beautiful space held by the shamans, feeling of safety during the whole retreat, yummy dieta foods, WiFi to stay in touched with loved ones, fresh mountain air, and small trips into Cuenca if you’re inclined!

Loved all the shamans, staff, volunteers, and attendees! I am so thankful for you. I am still integrating things I’ve learned weeks after the retreat and made some really good friends. The staff wasn’t kidding when they said that it’s one of the deeper bonds that you’ll form with people. Thank you from the core of my heart, a place like this has shown me that love exists in the world if you’re open to it.”

View into the village

View into the village

The 55-acre piece of land was the perfect space to heal, quiet the mind, and to reconnect with nature. The 5 total ceremonies were beautifully led to say the least. I will always remember the hauntingly beautiful icaros of all the shamans (especially Salvadore).

Ayahuasca is a journey deep into your consciousness to find wisdom from within. These ceremonies took place in the evenings and carried late into the night. It took only about 30 minutes for the plant medicine to kick in. It was a more difficult journey as you’ll encounter the deepest recesses of yourself mostly on a solo journey. There was much purging all around.

San Pedro was a heart opening experience which really helps to connect with others. The ceremonies started early in the morning and can carry into the evening. San Pedro is a tricky one as it takes upwards of a couple hours for it to come on. I feel that it was more gentle and more pleasant.

Maloka Space

Maloka Space where Ayahuasca and San Pedro ceremonies were held

There was also a sweat lodge ceremony which combined both of the medicines. The experience left me feeling like I was reborn and filled with love and joy. It lasted basically all day in a small brick hut with about 35-40 people inside a sweltering space filled with glowing volcanic rocks.

Sweat Lodge

Sweat Lodge

After doing research and taking in materials for months, I decided it was the right time to go. I will not try to convince you to take part in this traditional religious sacrament as you will know if it’s right for you.

Here’s a playlist of some of my favorite documentaries that I really enjoyed.

There are plenty of reviews on Trip Advisor and Aya Advisors if you’re curious about visiting this retreat. I believe using the combination of the two sites should aid your decision.

As I believe each individual experience is different as well as from ceremony to ceremony, I will not recount them here. What you should know about my experience was that it was what I needed and many profound gifts were given to me.

If you have questions are curious about my experiences, you can tweet me @timh1203 or drop me an email.

We also got to visit Incapirca Ruins, Piedra de Agua Fuente Termal & Spa, Cuenca city too!

Near Calle Larga

Near Calle Larga

Thank you so much to Christine for setting up a wonderful place and Jerry for running the retreat during our time there.

Thanks to all the shamans for taking massive responsibility in holding space for people to heal and having a gentle, loving heart to share.

Thanks for all the volunteer and staff who helped us through the early mornings and dark evenings and making the experience even more wonderful.

Thank you to all the tribemates I’ve found and built deep connections with. I miss you all and hope to see you again one day!

Christopher Chiu also had a post on his blog if you’re interested entitled Gaia Sagrada Review – 12-day Ayahuasca & San Pedro Retreat (Cuenca, Ecuador).