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Costa Rica is known for its exotic beauty, laid-back ambiance and ‘Pura Vida’ lifestyle, making it a fantastic wellness escape for people looking to unwind and reconnect with their true selves. It’s no wonder spiritual seekers flock here for healing and transformation and to experience the power and magic behind sacred rituals like the Ayahuasca ceremony.
If you too are up for a night of deep connection to your mind and divine understanding of your true self, this guide contains incredible Ayahuasca retreat Costa Rica reviews that you can use to plan profound spiritual experiences. But first, let’s learn a thing or two about Ayahuasca, shall we?
Ayahuasca is an ancient hallucinogenic plant brew that has been used by the indigenous people of South America for years for medicinal and spiritual purposes. The thick brown beverage is made using the stalks of Banisteriopsis caapi and the leaves of Psychotria viridis shrub, though other plants and ingredients containing psychoactive properties can be included as well.
N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a chemical compound found in the caapi vine is highly psychoactive. Combined with the beta-carbolines produced by the viridis shrub that also have psychedelic effects of their own, it forms a powerful hallucinogen that gives the resulting brew its mind-altering properties. The brew is currently not available in the United States.
What Does an Ayahuasca Ceremony Entail?
A typical Ayahuasca ritual involves drinking the dark brown syrup under the guidance of an experienced healer (shaman or curandero). The liquid takes about 20 minutes to an hour to kick in, and you embark on a new journey of healing and cleansing.
You may experience some mild nausea and a strange sensation in the stomach in the beginning, but these usually pass quickly. Within no time, the cleansing energy of Ayahuasca will start spreading throughout your body and the most phenomenal visions will begin. This, my friend will be the beginning of a new journey of healing and spiritual awakening. And the next 4 to 6 hours will give you the deepest and most sacred discovery of your true self.
Is Ayahuasca Legal in Costa Rica?
While most substances containing psychedelic properties are heavily controlled in most countries, there’s no law regulating the use of Ayahuasca in Costa Rica. Simply put, Ayahuasca is neither legal nor illegal in the country. This basically means that retreat centers administering Ayahuasca ceremonies can carry out their normal operations without facing legal consequences.
Other Sacred Medicines
You’ll often find other sacred medicines offered at an ayahuasca retreat center, including Rapé and Kambo. Here’s a quick overview of both sacred medicines.
Made from ground tobacco and dried herbs from the rainforest, rapé has been used as a sacred ingredient in healing and cleansing ceremonies for centuries. It is believed to connect individuals with the spirit of nature, providing them with a ‘third eye’ and enhancing their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
A rapé ritual involves blowing the powdered medicine through a narrow pipe called Tepi into the receiver’s nose and reciting a prayer while at it.
The vaccine of the forest, aka Kambo, is another popular sacred medicine among the indigenous Amazon rainforest tribes, known for its healing and detoxifying properties. Unlike the other two, this one is made from skin secretions of the Philomedusa bicolor frog.
During the Kambo sessions, small dots are made on the skin using a special vine that has been previously burned until it’s red-hot, then the secretion is applied onto these spots. As the medicine enters the skin and into your body, it triggers a series of chemical reactions, causing your body to purge toxins and massively boosting the immune system. This cleanses the body, renews your physical strength and improves your spiritual and mental clarity.
Picking the Ideal Retreat (Safety Tips)
When it comes to choosing a retreat center for your Ayahuasca experience, safety should be your number one priority. Below are a few things to look out for:
A center that cares about the safety of its guests will place an emphasis on providing proper training to its shamans, facilitators and general members of staff. Search online to see if previous attendees have had any negative experiences with the facilitators of your chosen retreat in regard to ensuring guests’ safety and general service delivery. Make sure you are working with experienced healers at your retreat.
Check to see that your preferred facility conducts rigorous medical screening before guests can join their program. Screening can be in the form of interviews or questionnaires and are a great way to weed out risky individuals who are likely to harm themselves or others during the ceremonies.
Safety Education (for Guests)
An Ayahuasca retreat will have a sufficient stock of safety equipment; but a responsible safety-first center will also make a special effort to educate its guests about the ceremony, what to expect, and how to properly prepare in advance to ensure a safe experience. Most centers will have this information on their website, but those worth their salt will go the extra mile to remind their guests what’s required of them prior to the trip.
If you are a woman traveling alone or with a group of women, you will want to make sure there is a woman on staff to guide you through your journey. Both Nada Brahma Healing Center and Casa de la Luz specialize in creating a safe environment for women on site.
Top Ayahuasca Retreat Centers in Costa Rica
Given the sensitive nature of Ayahuasca rituals, where you choose to go and who you choose to work with are, without doubt, some of the most important decisions you need to make to ensure a safe and fulfilling experience – especially if it’s a guest’s first time. Here, I’ve put together some of the best Ayahuasca retreats in Costa Rica to make your decision easier.
For each resort named here, you can expect a very harmonic environment and an amazing experience. The times I have spent at ayahuasca retreats have given me a strong peace of mind and relaxation. (I’ve never tried ayahuasca but have spent time at Nada Brahma Healing Center). From each of these retreats, you can expect amazing healthy food to be included, (like an all-inclusive resort)- fresh fruit, vegan meals, shakes and more.
Note that most retreats will provide transportation to their sites, but you can also rent a car and drive.
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Situated in the gorgeous mountains of Costa Rica, just an hour’s drive from Juan Santamaria International Airport, Nada Brahma is the perfect getaway for anyone looking for a wholesome intimate and personalized Ayahuasca experience.
The small, peaceful and all-inclusive healing center offers both individual and intimate group retreats (usually of 4 to 8 people) not just for Mother Ayahuasca but also for other medicinal plants like Kambo, Rapé, and Temazcal.
With views of picturesque green mountains, access to private rivers and waterfalls, healthy organic meals as well as hammocks and shared rooms for relaxing, this is a unique mind and body healing facility, providing the ultimate safe haven to wind down and transform your life through sacred medicine and holistic healing therapies.
I have to say that I am completely biased about this retreat, but the shaman, Carlos, has been a family friend for over 20 years. His level of knowledge and professionalism is unparalleled, and his prices are the best on this list. If you are looking for a high-quality, authentic and intimate experience, stop reading now and just book with Carlos. Tell him Christa sent you!
Ayahuasca Costa Rica
Another powerful vortex for spiritual awakening is the Ayahuasca Costa Rica wellness center, offering both Ayahuasca and Kambo ceremonies. The facility is embedded in nature surrounded by the tranquil tropical rainforest, providing an incredible escape from the bustling city vibes. It’s 3 hours and 30 minutes away from San Jose and even closer if you’re flying to the local airport.
This center likes to host small groups, often less than 5, making it great for travelers looking for more intimate sessions. But as with Nada Brahma, there’s also an option to have the experience alone. The ceremony is conducted outside in an open space (but covered by a roof), so you can freely feel the pure breeze of nature and enjoy incredible views as you embark on your spiritual journey.
In addition to medicinal healing, there are a lot of other activities to enjoy here including jungle and waterfall hikes if you don’t want to stay indoors or at the pool. When not outdoors, go kick back inside; there are shared rooms for people traveling in groups and private rooms for those visiting solo, all very spacious and comfortable.
Rythmia Life Advancement Center
Looking for a retreat that can accommodate a larger group? Definitely head to Rythmia Life Advancement Center – a single program can even have up to 60 participants!
And even though groups hosted here are quite big, this exquisite resort has enough staff and amenities to ensure the ceremonies are well facilitated and every individual receives personalized care. You’ll have your own private bed and experienced attendants watching over you the entire night.
Did I mention it’s a licensed plant medicine retreat too? That’s right! This isn’t your average psychedelic center; it’s a real medical setting. There’ll be nurses to take your blood pressure and ask you questions about your health background before you can participate in your first ceremony to ensure a safe experience.
During the amazing weeklong Ayahuasca program, you’ll enjoy yoga classes, massages, breathwork, personal growth workshops, volcanic mud baths and organic foods and drinks, all choreographed to create a progressive effect in your healing journey.
The resort is about 1 hour and 30 minutes away from Liberia Airport, and there are shuttle rides to get you there. This center is owned by Deepak Chopra and movie star Michelle Rodriguez.
New Life Ayahuasca Retreat
Not a fan of the large-group setting? No problem! I’ve got another one of my favorite centers on the list – the New Life Ayahuasca. Here, there’ll be no more than 14 people in a ceremony, allowing you to enjoy a more intimate and individualized Ayahuasca journey.
Situated in the serene atmosphere and tropical beauty of the Costa Rica Blue Zone, just 1 hour and 30 minutes from Liberia Airport, this beautiful sanctuary offers profound plant medicine ceremonies for people seeking personal and spiritual healing.
Let your body relax and replenish in this therapeutic haven through the guidance of skilled healers. They combine Ayahuasca rituals with yoga and other sessions of mindfulness to help you achieve a heightened state of spiritual realization.
Accommodation features both shared rooms and private rooms and common areas boast a stunning pool, fire pit and lounge spots. Vegan meals are offered throughout the retreat.
Soltara Healing Center
In the beautiful Gulf of Nicoya rests this lush, sacred space that offers powerful Ayahuasca retreats led by indigenous healers and clinical psychologists. Soltar, the Spanish verb from which the name Soltara is coined means ‘to let go’ or ‘to release’, and this place lets you do exactly that.
With an intimate setting that allows no more than 20 guests per program, Soltara Healing Center provides a safe space to start a personal journey of transformational healing. There are two locations to choose from – Playa Blanca, tucked in remote, secluded seaside cliffs and the Sugar Beach, sited just a few steps from the sparkly Pacific ocean.
In both sanctuaries, guests enjoy nature immersion, spa treatments, floral baths, art therapies, breathwork, meditation, yoga and locally sourced organic foods in addition to the Shipibo-guided Ayahuasca rituals.
Accommodation is first class – clean, spacious and comfortable. Depending on your budget and preference, you can pick the high-end suites that feature ice-cold air conditioning and stunning balcony views or the more pocket-friendly rustic cabins near the maloca.
Group shuttles are available at Wyndham San Jose Herradura Hotel to pick up guests traveling to Playa Blanca from Juan Santamaria Airport. Those headed to Sugar Beach can enjoy similar services from the Hilton Garden Inn Guanacaste Airport pick-up point.
Tree of Lights Retreats
Impactful renewal begins at Tree of Hope Retreats, a safe and supportive space for deep Ayahuasca transformation, located in the majestic coastal mountains of Costa Rica. The natural beauty, tranquil environment, and innate connection with Mother Nature set the stage for a life-changing Ayahuasca journey, facilitated by well-trained Shipibo healers.
Tree of Lights strives to keep its offerings incredibly personal and intimate, with ceremonies allowing only a group of 9 participants at a time. A typical Ayahuasca program includes 4 Ayahuasca ceremonies, plant Dieta, group sharing circles, beach and waterfall trips, jungle walks, floral baths and integration talks.
A private shuttle service will pick you up at Hotel Brilla Sol, the center’s designated pick-up/drop-off point. There are taxis to take you to the hotel from San Jose Airport.
Casa De La Luz
Casa De La Luz is a popular choice for spiritual seekers looking to have their first Ayahuasca ceremony. Hiding in the humble suburb of San Jose and surrounded by the beautiful sounds of nature, the cool little healing haven introduces beginner Ayahuasca journeyers to the healing power of sacred medicine in a safe and welcoming environment.
What makes this spot so unique is that apart from the multi-day programs, there are also one-night retreats, hosting only one guest at a time. You’ll have a private ceremony, completely disconnected from the outside world and guided by a skilled facilitator. And because you’ll be the only guest visiting, the experience will be even more intimate!
Multi-day retreats are designed for up to 4 people. The most common package, the 3-day retreat includes 2 Ayahuasca ceremonies, meditation classes, accommodation, dietary snacks and healthy farm-to-table foods. Pick-up and drop-off services from Juan Santamaria Airport or San Jose City are provided upon request. Casa de la Luz is one of the only retreat centers that offers one-day ayahuasca retreats.
Want a personalized chat about ayahuasca in Costa Rica, or about your next Costa Rica vacation? Book a time with me (no sales!) and we will get all your questions answered.
Welcome! I’m Christa, a former high school teacher married to a handsome Costa Rican and mother of two bilingual daughters. I love all things Spanish and bi-cultural, (especially travel and food!) and you’ll find my observations on life here. Thanks for stopping by