In February 2015, an article was published in the New York Times called The Trip Treatment. The article uncovered the results of decades’ worth of scientific research into psychedelics. From 1953 to 1973, the federal government funded research into the effects of psychedelics on people. This was just long enough to help spark the free-love and hippie movement of the 1960s. The research was eventually de-funded and shut down after Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 and put psychedelics on the Schedule 1 list of drugs, in response to a subculture of people who began to use them recreationally.
As a result of the Controlled Substance Act, psychedelics gained a cultural stigma and were viewed as harmful and dangerous – however, research shows just the opposite. In the past decade research into psychedelics has reemerged, and it shows they actually can have a positive impact. Psychedelics are being tested on everyone from perfectly healthy individuals to people with mental disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, PTSD, alcoholism, autism and even patients with terminal cancer. The results of the studies have been impressive to say the least – psychedelics are actually proving effective to treat or cure mental illness and disease in patients. Even healthy people are exhibiting positive results and are displaying more openness and acceptance in all parts of their lives, leading to increased overall happiness. Not only that, research has proven that under proper supervision psychedelics are safe for users and non-toxic.
So what does all of this have to do with travel? Good question. The answer is ayahuasca. More and more travelers and explorers are being drawn to Central and South America to participate in ayahuasca ceremonies, which are traditionally overseen by shamans at jungle retreats. The use of the plant is legal and a long standing part of the culture in the Amazon Jungle. The birth of ayahuasca tourism started in the mid-2000s when the internet made it possible for retreats in Peru to openly discuss and advertise the benefits of ayahuasca to attract visitors from all over.
Ayahuasca is a vine that grows in Central and South America that has been used by shamans and ancient civilizations for centuries. Archaeologists believe there is evidence of its use dating back as early as 3000 to 1500 BC, but the truth is we’ll never know exactly when it first started being used. Ayahuasca is considered to have been officially discovered in 1851 by Richard Spruce, a well-known ethnobotanist from England who learned about the vine when he was exploring South America.
Today, ayahuasca is brewed as a tea that people drink at the beginning of a ceremony. The active ingredient in the tea is dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which induces hallucinations for 4-8 hours. People report that these hallucinations provide them with insights about their life and help them uncover things that were previously hidden. Ceremonies are overseen by an experienced shaman – preferably with many years of experience – who guides people to make sure it remains positive, productive, and safe for everyone participating. Prior to the ceremony shamans meet with people individually to discuss what to expect and what they would like to get out of the experience. After many claim that it changed their lives for the better and they returned home with a different perspective and a renewed sense of purpose. At the very least it’s a good story and an experience they’ll never forget.
Participating in ayahuasca ceremonies has become increasingly popular over the years, especially in California’s Silicon Valley, where it has gained significant popularity, causing many to flock to Central and South America to see what it’s all about. Tim Ferriss — an author, entrepreneur, life-hacker, and ayahuasca enthusiast who lives in San Francisco — jokes that “ayahuasca is like having a cup of coffee here.” This quote was published in an article called The Drug of Choice for the Age of Kale. Need I say more? Tim is an advocate of the use of ayahuasca and psychedelics, and on his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, he stated that he personally invested money for research into psychedelics at Johns Hopkins University.
Ayahuasca has become especially popular with people seeking self-improvement and is cited as the “fast-track,” where one night on ayahuasca is the equivalent of 6 years of therapy. A recent article in Business Insider cites the draw to try ayahuasca as something that is particularly enticing to entrepreneurs and people in the tech industry because it helps them discover their own weaknesses and makes them more competitive in their already competitive industry.
Everyone who participates has a different reason for wanting to try ayahuasca. Some seek happiness and self-improvement, others participate to help cure disease, or as a treatment for cancer. Others still are seeking enlightenment and have spiritual reasons for participating, which is especially common for divinity students and spiritual seekers.
The truth is there’s no right answer, and it’s not for everyone. But if you’re someone who wants to try, are intrigued, or you’re thinking, “Why not? I’ll try anything once,” then we invite you to travel with us on our Peru 9-Day Adventure to an Ayahuasca Retreat, then to Cusco, Ollantaytambo and Macchu Picchu. We have led other groups on this trip and can ensure that you are in good hands, everything is taken care of and you will have the experience of a lifetime.
The New Year is here – if 2017 is your year to try something new, have an amazing experience, or make a change in your life and take it to another level, then join us on our 9-Day adventure to Peru for the trip of a lifetime – no pun intended.
Happy New Year!