Arkana's Frequently Asked Questions



Is ayahuasca safe?

Ayahuasca is extremely safe when used responsibly.  In other words: following a disciplined approach in observing safety protocols at all times, not serving medicine to guests whose medical conditions are contraindicated, and having expert healers with years of experience leading the ceremonies. 

What conditions can be treated with ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca is not a magic cure-all overnight pill. It is a powerful tool that has been sought out by spiritual seekers for its visionary properties as well as for its ability to treat medical conditions of the mind, body and spirit.

Traditionally, it was the village shamans who would drink the ayahuasca brew and then diagnose the “sober” patient, with the plant spirit directing the shaman to the correct plants to use as medicine and the course of treatment for healing.

Nowadays, researchers are investigating claims, some of which remain anecdotal.  There’s compelling evidence that shamanic healing works and is especially effective for emotional, psychological and physical issues such as: chronic depression, anxiety, addiction and alcoholism, trauma related afflictions, and sexual abuse among others.

What are the ingredients in your ayahuasca brew? 

Our shamans cook our ayahuasca brew in our Amazon center.  We are purists when it comes to our medicine, that is, we only use the Ayahuasca Vine (Banisteriopsis Caapi) and the Chacruna leaf, no admixtures whatsoever.

What is the background of your ayahuasca shamans?

At Arkana we only employ the most talented Shipibo healers from the Peruvian Amazon.   We believe the Shipibos have perfected the art of shamanism; their approach to the medicine is very effective and unparalleled. They are focused entirely on healing each and every patient.  Every night they work individually with each participant, healing their physical and energetic body as a part of their treatment.

All of our medicine is served by expert shamans that have spent years of their lives dedicated to learning from the plants.   They belong to unbroken lineages of master healers that pass their knowledge from one generation to the next.


How many centers do you operate and where are they located?

In Peru, we operate retreats throughout the year out of two locations: Amazon and Sacred Valley.  In Mexico we have a new center in the Yucatan Peninsula, close to Cancun.  We will operate retreats out of this location during the months of October – May.

Which location is right for me?

This is a tough question because you can’t really go wrong with any of the three locations. Having said that there are slight differences between all three.
(a) Setting is an obvious one: Jungle vs. Mountain location with everything that entails. The jungle brings an added layer to the ayahuasca ceremonies impossible to replicate elsewhere, the downside is the weather and mosquitoes we get at times. The mountain aside from being close to Machu Picchu involves a bit of cold weather at night, so you need to adjust accordingly.

(b) Geography. 
Country location plays a big factor when it comes to travel time. Mexico is conveniently located within easy reach of North America and Europe and this is reflected in airfare cost.  Peru is a bit more distant and requires a longer trek.

(c) Level of Comfort
. Our centers offer three very distinct experiences for potential guests. The Hacienda in Yucatan is a 5 star luxurious paradise: multiple pools, cinema, beautiful gardens and old charm facilities. The Sacred Valley is a comfortable option in the andes , something equivalent to a 3 star hotel.  It has hot water, private bathrooms in every room, down comforters, etcLastly the Amazon center is a rustic lodge nestled in nature.

(d) Program Schedule. Although we serve the same medicine with the same shamans, the program varies slightly.  In the Amazon, we do 4 aya ceremonies/wk, while in the valley we do 3 aya ceremonies + 1 San Pedro ceremony honoring local Andean culture. In Mexico we usually do 2-3 aya ceremonies + other local medicines (peyote or mushrooms).

(e) Pricing. Each center has a different pricing structure for its retreats. These prices reflect the difference in facilities, level of comfort and the local cost of operations.

How long should I come for?

Length of time really depends on the issues you need to work through. For a lot of people, 1 wk is enough, but some require additional time sitting with the medicine. The last thing you want to do is book 1 week and have to leave with some unfinished business. If you can do it, come for 2 wks to cover your bases. For those looking to heal severe trauma, deep-rooted addictions or simply want to do in-depth work book the 3wk program.

May I come for an individual ceremony?

Unfortunately not, all our programs are weekly based. We believe that in order to do deep work people need to participate in at least 3-4 ceremonies.

What is your refund/cancellation policy?

We have a no refund policy. If you need to cancel your retreat, you can reschedule any time into the future applying your credit to the existing retreat prices. Alternatively, if you cannot personally attend, you can transfer your credit to a third party.

What’s included in the retreat prices?

Displayed prices are per person based on double/triple occupancy.  They include local transportation to/from center, shared accommodations, all meals at the center, activities, excursions and ceremonies.  In Mexico because of the distance to the center, the shuttle has an extra cost of US$80 round trip. Optional extras are the Bufo Alvarius Ceremony, private room supplement, therapies, and the Machu Picchu Excursion.

Is airfare included in your retreat prices?

No, you are responsible for purchasing your flights to/from the retreat.

What is your average group size at the retreat?

In Yucatan and the Amazon the maximum group size is 21 people, in the Sacred Valley 18 people. Actual numbers vary by the week and may be significantly less.

How many shamans and facilitators guide each ayahuasca ceremony?

In the Amazon and Yucatan, ceremonies are led by 2-3 shamans aided by 2-3 facilitators.  In the Sacred valley we have 2 shamans and 2 facilitators per ceremony.

Do the facilitators participate in the ceremonies?

Yes, as a part of their responsibilities, the facilitators drink a micro dose of ayahuasca to connect with the spirit of the plant and be in tune with the energy of the room.  This dose allows them to function adequately in assisting all guests in their process.

My friend/family member wants to come along, but does not want to drink Ayahuasca. Can they still come? If yes, is there any discount you can provide for them?

We welcome any companions to our paying guests.  We offer a 10% discount off of our regular retreat rates; this rate includes lodging, meals, local transport to/from the center, activities and excursions (i.e. everything except the ceremonies).

What is the process for booking?

Everything is done online in a simple straightforward process. Simply visit this and select which retreat you are interested in, click on the book now and follow the onscreen prompts to the registration form.You will have to pay a 50% deposit on a credit card, and the balance will be due upon arrival in cash.

Can I pay my remaining balance via credit card?

We have a strict “cash on arrival” policy, which we implemented in order to run our operations down in Peru and Mexico. In Latin America, most countries operate cash economies, where moving money around the bank system can be challenging and very costly.   This is why we appreciate your cooperation with this.  If this is a problem please contact us so we can find another mutually agreeable payment method.

Do you offer scholarships and/or payment plans?

Yes, as a part of our mission, every year we provide a limited number of scholarships for people that desperately need healing who would be unable to attend otherwise. For those of you that only require some flexibility with payments, we are open to discuss mutually convenient payment plans. Please contact us for more info.

What is the minimum/maximum age to attend?

There are no age requirements as such as long as the guest is in overall good health. Minors are permitted to attend as long as their legal guardian accompanies them. On the other hand, we’ve had guests well into their 80s that have thoroughly enjoyed our programs.

Is it okay for couples or family members to attend the retreat together?

Yes, definitely. A lot of people enjoy attending one of our retreats with their loved ones. Going through one of these experiences together allows you to be on the same frequency as you return to your daily life. Having a sounding board to discuss things as the process continues to unfold. During the ceremonies, we assign people separate seats so each individual can have some space to focus on his/her process. 


Are there any contraindications to Ayahuasca?

Yes, people who have been diagnosed with Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder are not good candidates for ayahuasca. As a policy, we do not serve medicine to people with these conditions as it may bring about unwanted manic episodes. As much as we want to help everyone, we do not want to worsen anyone’s condition.

People with chronic epilepsy, high blood pressure, heart conditions or diabetes must consult with us before booking a retreat. Eligibility to participate is determined on a case by case basis and is based on each individuals’ risk factors.

What medications/supplements should I avoid or stop prior to drinking ayahuasca?

As a general rule, we require that all medications/supplements be suspended in order to safely partake in the ancestral medicines offered at the retreat. There are a few exceptions to this rule that need to be cleared by our medical intake coordinator. All medications have a different half-life and as such require a specific timeline. If you currently take any medications and would like to attend one of our retreats, please email us what they are so we can share with you what the safety protocol is for each.

What would you do in case of a medical emergency?

Our guests' safety is our top priority and we will not compromise on this. Over the years we have developed strict safety protocols that are observed from the moment someone books to time after the completion of the retreat.  These protocols include an onboarding medical call to alert us of possible conditions and detailed procedures on what to do in case of a medical emergency. All centers are equipped with heart defibrillators, first aid kits and personnel with CPR training that are ready to tackle any emergency.   We also have agreements with local doctors, clinics and ambulances in case a medical evacuation is warranted.    We are proud to report a zero incident record in more than five years of operation and more than 4,000 guests that have been served by our centers.

Should I be concerned about Malaria?

Cases of malaria do exist around Iquitos, but they are extremely rare (close to none) within the region with which our center is located. Even if, in an unlikely situation, one ends up catching malaria, oftentimes, the strain of it, which is present around Iquitos, is less harmful than the side effects of taking anti-malaria medication itself. Therefore, we strongly advise you to read up on all possible side effects of taking the meds, before you make a decision to either take them or not.  If you choose to take them in order to be as protected as possible, then the only brand we recommend for you to consider is Malarone. Both the Sacred Valley and Arkana Yucatan are considered malaria-free zones.

What vaccines are required? How long before my retreat should I get them?

Vaccines are not required to enter Peru or Mexico; it’s more of a personal choice.  If you choose to get them, the popular vaccines people get are against Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Rabies, and Hepatitis A&B.  Please schedule these at least 3 weeks prior to your retreat.   FYI, none of our staff take them and we have never had an incident in 5+ yrs of operation.

Is it safe to do Plant Medicines while being pregnant?

We advise against participating in ceremonies if there is even the slightest chance of being pregnant. There is a high risk of losing the baby especially in the first and third trimester.

Can I participate in the ceremony if I’m in my moon cycle?

Yes, we require you to inform the facilitators during your retreat so the shaman’s can protect the energy of your cycle during the ceremony and there is no interaction with the medicine.


How can I prepare myself for an Ayahuasca retreat?

We highly recommend taking the time to prepare your mind and spirit in addition to your body. This will be time well spent and it will allow you to get the most of your experience. A good starting point is to ask yourself what your true intention for the retreat is: what you want to get out of the experience. Having a clear direction enables clear results.

It is helpful to renounce all expectations; when you do research and come across testimonials, understand that those are someone else’s experience. Remember to always trust the process and know that the medicine will give you not what you want, but what you need. Be aware that the process is not always pleasant but it is always beneficial.   Surrender and give yourself completely to the experience with an open mind and heart. 

On a practical level, it is highly beneficial to practice yoga or meditation in your daily routine. Disciplines that will help you to quiet the mind so you can take a deep dive inside during the retreat. 

What kind of diet should I follow prior to the retreat?

One of the most important aspects of preparing for a retreat is nutrition. By observing the Dieta in advance you are starting the process of cleansing and deepening your ability to connect with the medicine. 

During the 2 wks prior to the retreat, we recommend:
- Staying well hydrated, eating healthy: lots of fruits and veggies
- Avoiding pork (very important) and red meats in general 
- Minimizing salt, sugar and irritants (caffeine, spices, alcohol)


What airport do I fly into?

Peru:  If you are coming from abroad, you will first have to fly into Lima and then connect with a local domestic flight.  For the Amazon center, you fly in/out of Iquitos (IQT); for the Sacred Valley Cusco (CUZ). 
Mexico:  For the Yucatan center you will be flying in/out of Cancun (CUN).

When would you recommend for me to arrive and depart?

Amazon Center:  You need to make plans to arrive in Iquitos the day prior to the start of the retreat (Saturday) in time for a 4pm meetup.  On the last day of the retreat, you will be dropped off in Iquitos at 4pm.  We recommend you book your flight any time on Sunday.  You will need to book a hotel for two nights pre and post retreat.

Sacred Valley Center:  You need to make plans to arrive in Cusco the day prior to the start of the retreat (Saturday) in time for a 4pm meetup.  On the last day of the retreat, you will be dropped off in Cusco at 11:30 am.  We recommend you book your flight any time on Sunday.  You will need to book a hotel for two nights pre and post retreat.

* If you plan on attending Machu Picchu, that excursion takes place all day on Saturday and you will return to spend the night at Arkana.  The following morning (Sunday) you will be dropped off in Cusco at 11:30am, we suggest you book your flight out any time after 3pm on Sunday.

Mexico:  You need to make plans to arrive in Cancun the day prior to the start of the retreat (Saturday) and you can fly out anytime on Sunday.  You will be dropped off in Cancun the last day of the retreat (Saturday) around 5pm.

Is there a hotel you recommend before and after my retreat?

Yes, Hotel La Casona in Iquitos and Hotel Tierra Viva Centro in Cusco.   In Cancun we recommend the Doubletree Hotel Cancun Airport.  All of these hotels are used as the designated pickup/drop-off spots.

Do you offer airport transfers?

Not at the moment.  

In Peru, we provide a complimentary shuttle to/from the center using a designated pickup/drop-off spot in town:  In Iquitos we use the Hotel La Casona, in Cusco we use the Tierra Viva Hotel Centro.    You will be responsible to make your way to the pickup spot at the designated time, both in Iquitos and Cusco it is safe to use airport taxis.In Mexico, the Doubletree Hotel Cancun Airport has a complimentary airport shuttle.  Transportation to/from the Hacienda has an extra cost of US$80 round trip.

Is Peru/Mexico safe for travelers?

Yes, both Mexico and Peru are countries that welcome visitors. These are safe destinations as long as you use common sense while traveling.  We recommend avoiding flashing signs of wealth in public, leaving valuables at the hotel’s safe, and to minimize walking alone, especially during nighttime.  Don’t do things you wouldn’t do back at home.

What should I pack in my bag?

You will be provided a comprehensive suggested packing list in the pre-arrival email that gets sent out 10 days prior to the start of the retreat.

Will I need a Passport to Enter Peru or Mexico?

Yes, a passport with a minimum validity of six months from the date of entry into the country. If you have a passport expiring within six months, you need to get it renewed.

Will I need a Visa to travel?

It is unlikely, international visitors from most countries (North & South America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand) are not required to get a tourist visa to enter Peru or Mexico.  Exceptions to this are citizens from Africa, Middle East, and some countries in Asia.  When in doubt, double-check your visa requirements from this link.

Should I bring extra cash?

Yes, we suggest you bring a few hundred dollars to cover any incidentals pre/post retreat, for tips and for any souvenirs you may want to take home.  Alternatively, you can withdraw money in local currency at the ATMs in the airport.


Are the borders open for travel?

Yes, Peru opened its borders for international travel in October 2020.
Mexico’s borders are also fully operational. We don’t anticipate them closing again in the near future. 

What are the entry requirements to enter the country?

Peru: You will be required to present a recent negative COVID test result (PCR or antigen) in order to board your plane bound for Peru taken not earlier than 72 hrs prior to your arrival.  In addition to this you will be required to fill out a health declaration form.

Mexico: The only requirement is to fill out a health declaration form prior to arrival. 

Will I have to quarantine upon arrival?

Peru:  No, only passengers arriving from Brazil, South Africa or India are required to quarantine.
Mexico: No quarantine requirements.

I have been vaccinated against COVID, do I still need to get tested?

Yes. The vaccine reduces the likelihood of infection; it does not eliminate it completely.

What is the COVID surcharge fee?  What does it cover?

This amount covers the testing required for all staff, the enhanced sanitization of the center and protection equipment for the operation's employees.

Will I need to wear a facemask at the center?

No, by testing all retreat participants we create a safety bubble where the use of facemasks is optional and not required.

Where can I get a COVID test in preparation for my flight home?

We have arrangements with local testing facilities to provide COVID testing to our guests at the end of the retreats.  They will be available at the drop-off spots at the end of the retreat to take samples.  It is the guest's responsibility to pay for these tests.

Is the covid 19 vaccine required to participate in our retreats?

No, we only require test.


Is participation in the ceremonies and activities mandatory?

All retreats at Arkana are considered to be a multi-step treatment. In order to fully receive the benefits of it, it is very important to show up diligently to do the work. We require all guests to attend the orientation talk, the ayahuasca ceremonies, sharing circles and the integration talk. Participation in all other activities and excursions is optional. 

Having said this, drinking ayahuasca at each ceremony is a personal choice. In ancient times it was only the shaman that would drink the medicine. Even without drinking, participants still benefit from receiving the medicine songs from the Shamans as a part of their treatment.

Is participation in the ceremonies and activities mandatory?

All retreats at Arkana are considered to be a multi-step treatment. In order to fully receive the benefits of it, it is very important to show up diligently to do the work. We require all guests to attend the orientation talk, the ayahuasca ceremonies, sharing circles and the integration talk. Participation in all other activities and excursions is optional. 

Having said this, drinking ayahuasca at each ceremony is a personal choice. In ancient times it was only the shaman that would drink the medicine. Even without drinking, participants still benefit from receiving the medicine songs from the Shamans as a part of their treatment.

Is your shaman(s) available to talk with during the retreat?

Yes, absolutely. At the beginning of the retreat all guests have an individual meeting with the shamans and the facilitation team to discuss the motivation and intentions for participating in the retreat. Throughout the week, additional 1 on 1 time can be scheduled as needed. The shamans are there to assist everyone in their process.

Is there electricity? Do I need to bring an electrical adapter with me?

All centers have electricity:  the Amazon is powered by a solar panel system and the Sacred Valley is connected to the city’s power grid. Electrical outlets in Peru are similar to those in North America and take plug types A, B or C (flat or round two-prong plug).  Peru uses different voltages (220V vs 110V) but most devices nowadays are equipped to modulate current to 110-240V. Mexico uses North American electric standards, same as the USA and Canada. Consider bringing a travel converter if you are coming from Europe, Asia or Australia.

Do you offer laundry services?

Yes. We provide a complimentary laundry service. All rooms are equipped with laundry bags, which are picked up every Wednesday and returned on Friday. 

Is there Internet at the center?

Yes. We have a wi-fi signal in each center to provide basic internet to our guests during some hours of the day. This has limited bandwith and is not meant for heavy audio/video usage, it is to be used primarily to send/receive messages.  Please note that at the amazon center the connection is not 100% reliable and at times we may experience outages.      

Is there cell service?  Will my international phone work?

Yes. Both locations in Peru have limited 3G coverage by Bitel and Claro.  In Mexico, the hacienda is covered by Telcel.  Before you travel, ask your mobile provider whether they have agreements with these companies and enable your international roaming if they do.

We highly encourage you to not use your phone during the time spent with us so you can fully disconnect from the outside world and be fully present for all activities; plan accordingly.

Do you have any volunteer or work-exchange program?

Yes.  We are always looking for good candidates to join our team. A pre-requisite for our volunteer program is to have previously attended one of our retreat programs. All candidates go through a formal interview process to determine if there is a good fit and an opening at our centers. If interested please email us.


Do you have integration support?

Yes. We strongly believe that 50% of the work is done at the retreat and the remaining 50% is done at home in your daily life. Integration is one of the critical aspects of plant medicines and it starts at the retreat in our sharing circles. When we articulate our experience in the ceremony, our mind starts processing what the medicine shows us in the ceremony.  Throughout your time spent with us, we will give you practical tools that you can learn and take away so you can live your life in an extraordinary way. Towards the end of the retreat we share with our guests our proprietary Integration method that we have developed over the years, giving practical advice on how to put all of these new learnings to practical use.

Once you leave the center, you will have a number of resources available at your discretion. As a part of our spiritual family you can always reach out to us to ask questions, you can also participate in our community facebook group made up of like minded individuals who have gone through our programs. For more in depth work, all guests can schedule at any time a 1-on-1 complimentary integration session with our integration support specialist. Additional sessions can be scheduled for a fee.

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