Following a significant amount of online research and discussions with others about their experiences, I decided Fundacion Camino Al Sol seemed fitted to what I was looking for in an Ayahuasca retreat. Unlike a vast number of other organisations / businesses, what you get is not a highly commercialised experience, you receive a traditional, caring and holistic weekend which is utterly transformative in all dimensions.
In summary, I can’t recommend this retreat enough to anyone who is considering an ayahuasca retreat. You will be welcomed into a non-judgmental, loving community with elders and shamans who are extremely experienced, in an environment which provides everything you need to have a deeply spiritual experience.
The retreat is based on Samuel’s beautiful, large property in Santa Elena (just outside of Medellin), it is set up with a well-equipped house for attendees which overlooks the hut and outside area where the rituals take place. A great breakfast and lunch in-keeping with the prescribed diet are provided each day (they also cater for vegos/vegans!).
The weekend was the most incredible, spiritual experience I have ever had. It was enlightening, transformative, difficult and decisively humbling. You drink two cups (if appropriate) each of the three nights and for me each medicine provided a completely different pathway and thus distinctive emotional, psychological and physical insights.
Going into the retreat, I was mostly curious and had a very general question for my focus. Throughout the weekend, I was astounded at how the medicine firmly and seamlessly weaved a vision (whether it be emotional, visual, auditory, hallucinatory etc) into a meaning that explored pertinent issues in my life (in my case issues which I previously wasn’t consciously aware of). I had warm, glowing appreciative moments and I had times where I felt my entire identity had been deconstructed. This might sound daunting but the shamans, with their kind and gentle natures, were there to provide support and guidance any time it was needed. There were female shamans attending every night which was great, it really added a special, unique energy as a woman attendee. This is something I considered prior to the weekend but honestly the male shamans were so trustworthy and lovely anyway that I didn’t really think about it at all during the weekend other than to appreciate the amazing qualities of Alexandra and other female community shamans. There is a night where many community members attend and drink the medicine alongside you which is an absolute asset to the experience that I don’t think any other organisations I looked at provided. It is so special to be able to be surrounded by others who drink ayahuasca / yage as part of their tradition. In some ways, you are able to contribute to their experiences as much as they contribute to yours. If you have questions, the shamans are always happy to sit down during the day and discuss essentially anything with you.
You have the choice of several different areas, all of which are (unobtrusively) monitored by the shamans, including the hut where people can sit or lie down, the campfire outside and also a number of tents which are set up if you’re feeling like some quiet time.
The music that is played on a handful of instruments ranging from harmonica to guitar is so beautiful. I am not particularly musical but it was another experience in itself to feel how music can alter and support you in it’s own way. Of course a large part of that is the knowledge and skill of the shamans who play the instruments.
All in all, this is an experience with an organisation that I highly recommended and will continue to recommend. Hoping to return next year.