10 Reasons to Choose The Hummingbird Ayahuasca Retreat Center
A Professional Safe and Reliable Retreat
After spending a great amount of time researching ayahuasca retreats, staying at one and learning about the business, there are a number of factors that I have determined are important to consider before choosing which one to attend. Topics such as the owners, healing programs, the shaman, access to relevant information for research, safety, the type of clientele, the location and the results and effects it will have on your life in the long term. Below I describe in detail why I strongly recommend The Hummingbird Healing and Retreat Center based off of the experiences that I had.
As I mentioned in a previous post I wrote that offers advice on what criteria one should look for when selecting an ayahuasca retreat, I did extensive research before choosing the location I visited. I spent 6 consecutive hours researching different retreats and combing through every single review people had left of at least five different establishments to make sure I was well-informed.
One place in particular kept coming back to me and beckoning me; The Hummingbird Ayahuasca Healing and Retreat Center located in Iquitos, Peru.
I've now attended this ayahuasca center twice in the past two years and have been extremely satisfied with each visit. I plan to attend this following year as well. Below I detail the reasons that I recommend this ayahuasca retreat and feel that you cannot go wrong with this choice. Enjoy.
1. Professional Ownership
The Hummingbird Center is run by Jim and Gina Davis. Jim is a westerner from Seattle, Washington and his wife Gina is from Iquitos. Jim does all the management of the center and organizes the activities. He’s a deeply caring man; a fatherly figure who works hard to ensure that everyone that comes to his center leaves satisfied with their experience, healthy and with a sense of accomplishment. Gina compliments him well as she is an extremely caring and loving woman who compliments Jim well by bringing a very motherly, nurturing, feminine energy to the center.
During your time at the center Jim and Gina will do all they can to ensure you feel safe, comfortable, healthy and happy.
This is a very professional organization. The experience of their guests is top priority.
With these two beautiful souls running the show, you are in good hands and can focus on why you've come here; to improve your life and self.
George and another guest sitting with Jim and Gina Davis, along with their enormous and friendly Rottweiler mix Sultán.
2. A Multi-Faceted Program Geared Toward True Healing
Jim has created a very effective program that is focused on the health and healing all of his guests in a number of different ways.
In each of the 12 day retreat programs there are numerous activities designed to promote health and growth. All of the activities are optional; you're not obligated to attend anything if you are not feeling up to it. If you choose to attend the 12 day retreat, here are the activities of which you can take advantage:
- Six ayahuasca ceremonies
- A San Pedro ceremony (also known as Huachuma)
- Group discussions with fellow visitors the day after each ayahuasca and San Pedro ceremony
- Multiple flower baths that help to cleanse your energy
- A vapor bath with guided meditation
- A mud bath to remove toxins from the body
- A visit from a local bone doctor, a master huesero
- Multiple in-depth discussions about the subconscious mind and childhood programming
- Available individual discussions with Jim and the shaman Manaín at any time
- Ample time for rest and relaxation
- Access to an extensive library, board games and painting/coloring materials for self expression
- Healthy and delicious food
- Authentic ayahuasca diet (la dieta) if you choose to do so
- An array of Amazonian plant medicines which can be provided on a case-by-case basis
The amalgamation of these activities has created a multi-faceted program that offers healing on a deep level; physically, spiritually and mentally.
The group discussions allow you to share your experiences after ceremony and gain insights from Jim, the shaman and from other guests.
For some guests who have been experiencing chronic pain throughout their life due to an accident or injury, the visit from the bone doctor is enough in itself to justify a visit to the center. His ability to treat physical pain by correcting the skeletal system is truly remarkable.
For me, the discussions on the subconscious mind and childhood programming of the brain and its effects on one's current state of being was the most life changing of all. It taught me why I feel the way I do at all times of my life and what I can do to improve and/or change my thoughts.
Using plant medicines to gain deeper insight into myself along with gaining knowledge of how to control my subconscious thoughts has truly changed and enriched my life.
3. An Experienced and Dedicated Shaman
Jim’s partner in the healing process is el señor Manaín Miche Amacifuen, a native Amazonian Peruvian who comes from a long family line of ayahuasqueros. Manaín first began studying the art of Shamanism at the age of 15, learning it from his father who learned it from his father before him.
At the age of 62 with close to fifty years of experience, he’s a well-experienced healer who leaves every ounce of his energy in the maloca during ayahuasca ceremonies.
Manaín has more than 250 icaros that he incorporates into his ayahuasca ceremonies. He has a wonderfully soothing singing voice and if you're able to understand his lyrics (which are sung in Spanish), they can transport you to magical places during your journey. He also knows how to play the flute, which he brings out about halfway into ceremony. The sound of his sharp notes is so powerful and pleasing it literally made me shake with ecstatic feelings of bliss, not wanting the song to end. During ceremonies he does some personal healing on each guest and you can feel the loving and healing energies emanating from him into your body. It's a phenomenal sensation.
Meet Manaín Miche Amasifuen, my Shaman. Mi chamán
After ceremony finishes he virtually collapses into his chair and passes out from exhaustion for a period of time to regain his strength and energy. You can see how much passion he puts into his craft.
He is my Shaman, a true healer.
I will not seek another. As long as Manaín is practicing I will continue to come to him for healing. I find it hard to believe that there could be another Shaman as caring, dedicated to his craft and skilled as this man.
4. A Comprehensive and Informative Website
The website that Jim has created for The Hummingbird Ayahuasca Healing and Retreat Center is full of useful information.
It offers very specific details on what steps to take prior to departing for the retreat.
It tells you what you can expect when you arrive. There are breakdowns of the itineraries for each type of retreat from which you can choose. It gives you an in-depth explanation into ayahuasca and its healing properties. It informs you of what you’ll need to bring, how much cab rides should cost, indicates which hotels or hostels are convenient for staying prior to being picked up and taken to the center, and provides a list of airline companies that can transport you from Lima to Iquitos.
The website also advises what steps to take to prepare yourself physically, mentally and spiritually.
Jim's website tells you what preparations to take for your time with the medicine: what to eat and what foods to avoid, things from which you should abstain and substances to remove from your routine. This section is extremely important as a number of substances and medications can have adverse side effects when mixed with ayahuasca as it contains MAOIs.
Virtually any questions you may have about what to expect and how to prepare yourself can be found on the Hummingbird Center website. It offers an abundance of information to those interested in trying the medicine.
5. It's Safe: Legit Brew and Security
The ayahuasca brew that visitors drink at the Hummingbird Center is safe and potent.
These are the two most important criteria to consider when choosing a brew. It is prepared from a reliable and well-known shaman in the Amazon region.
The potency of the medicine can not only determine how much you're able to accomplish in personal healing but also how strong of an experience you can have. I for one enjoy having my socks blown off.
Every person's body is different; in my experiences I needed more medicine than virtually everyone else who attended the retreat to get the results I desired. I always drank more ayahuasca than anyone else at the beginning of ceremony and almost always asked for a smaller second dose mid ceremony, which is allowed at The Hummingbird Center for those who can handle it. The medicine that is offered there is strong, but I tend to metabolize substances quicker than most and had I not been able to take larger doses my experiences wouldn't have been as profound as they were.
The fact that the owners monitor how you're handling the experience and allow you to drink more as necessary is a huge plus.
Additionally, the center provides 24 hour safety of the guests with armed guards patrolling the grounds as well as three dogs that will alert staff and ownership to any intruders. Don't be alarmed by the guards. Nobody is going to come into the center to harm you.
However, the center is located in a third world country close to a poor village and the locals are aware that gringos come to the center with valuables in money and electronics. To prevent the locals from trying to sneak in to steal your belongings, the armed guards patrol the perimeter day and night. Jim also has a safe in his house where you can store your passport, cash and credit cards, and any other valuables for safeguarding.
The comfort and safety of the guests is of utmost importance to ownership.
Don't be alarmed! It's very safe. Armed guards patrol the center day and night to ensure nobody tries to sneak in to steal guests belongings.
Three guest-friendly dogs roam around the property to alert ownership to any possible intruders.
6. The Staff and Accommodations are Amazing
During ayahuasca ceremonies there is always a staff presence on hand to assist with trips to the toilet or other needs. If a guest has an extremely overwhelming experience and needs a sitter, they are available for this as well.
The employees of Hummingbird Center work day and night to ensure the comfort of the guests.
The staff is very friendly as well if you get a chance to chat with them. You'll need to brush up on your Spanish, but if you're wanting to improve your grasp on the language the staff with gladly visit with you and are always very polite and professional.
Jim and Gina employ a large staff on hand to attend to all the needs of their guests. Each day the kitchen prepares delicious, fresh, healthy food to keep the guests well fed. There are maids who clean your sleeping quarters each day, and they will pick up any clothes that you can leave in a dirty laundry bag in your room. The clothes are then hand washed and air dried, then folded and returned to you.
There are grounds keepers who are maintaining and landscaping the property each day to keep it presentable and in tip-top shape. Other employees clean the shower areas and empty the compost toilets at multiple times throughout the day. The guards patrol the property 24/7 and try to stay out of your way.
7. Selection Process: Serious Clientele Only
Before you are invited to attend the Hummingbird Ayahuasca and Retreat Center you will have to correspond with the owner Jim Davis via email over the course of a few days. Jim asks a series of questions in order to get a feel for you and to determine your motive for wanting to attend.
Applicants are screened to ensure that those who will be arriving are coming for the right reasons: health, healing, spirituality, etc.
This process weeds out the individuals who are only looking to get "high." Some people are only interested in ayahuasca due to curiosity or thrill seeking. If Jim gets the feeling that these are your motives he will more than likely recommend you attend a different center. Having people there with these sorts of motives can be counterproductive and is not conducive to healing.
He also has set a minimum amount of time that guests are allowed to visit. There are no one day visitors allowed. If you want to attend the Hummingbird Center you'll have to stay at least a week, which prompts you to make a commitment both financially and time-wise. This further weeds out the thrill seekers who are not wanting to fully explore the medicine for its true benefits.
When using ayahuasca therapeutically and medicinally one should have no fewer than three ceremonies, which is the amount you'll experience if you go for the one week minimum. Ayahuasca is not a one-time-fix-all type of medicine. For many people the initial ceremony can be quite unpleasant or even lackluster.
This plant medicine should be used in an ongoing process, and with each ceremony comes more healing and knowledge. Many reputable retreats do not offer any program with fewer than three ceremonies, and even three is very minimal. The more the better. I recommend a first-timer to prepare for at least five ceremonies. You will get so much more from the medicine and it will have a much longer-lasting and profound effect.
8. It Takes Bravery and Builds Character
Making the decision to travel to a third world country and putting your wholehearted trust in strangers to heal you is by no means easy, albeit a brave decision. It takes cojones and guts. It takes confidence. It takes dedication. And it requires extensive research to determine if it’s one that is right for you.
I speak Spanish fluently and found it stressful. The sheer fact that those who don’t speak Spanish won’t be able to effectively communicate with the vast majority of people they’ll encounter can be daunting.
However, if you're willing to step outside of your comfort zone and take a leap of faith, it will likely be one of the most educational and important experiences of your life.
You'll see the world from a completely different perspective and learn more about foreign lands and cultures than you ever thought possible. You'll get to see first hand the poverty and living conditions of a country that is vastly different from your own. And you'll see how the people who live there still find time to smile, laugh, relax and let loose.
People in less developed countries still find ways to show mutual respect towards others and have a sense of connectedness and community. A more simplistic lifestyle can often seem more appealing than the complex societal structures that we deal with on a daily basis in the more developed nations.
Experiencing this for yourself will build character and make you a better person all around.
Upon your return home you may find that you no longer take things for granted that you previously didn't think twice about. For those of us who are privileged enough to be born or reside in the more developed countries it's easy not to appreciate what we have, hence the phrase "first world problems."
9. It's Located in the Proper Setting, and it's Beautiful!
Check out this slideshow demonstrating the beautiful Hummingbird Center and the natural environment
There are a multitude of reasons to drink ayahuasca in the Amazon Jungle, its natural habitat.
Since The Hummingbird Center is located in the heart of the Amazon you get to take advantage of both the additional healing properties and the amazing sights and sounds of the rainforest.
The Amazon jungle is beautiful and worth visiting just to experience it.
The air feels different there. The wildlife is amazing. The sounds of the jungle are soothing and pleasing. At night time, the frogs chirp their peaceful sounds that make you feel truly connected to the earth.
In the Amazon you get to see the sky from a whole new perspective being in the Southern Hemisphere. On a clear night the stars illuminate the heavens and stretch infinitely. It's absolutely breathtaking. After ceremony my favorite thing to do was grab a cup of tea and sit on the lawn enjoying the cosmos; truly understanding how infinitesimally small we are and feeling the connectedness of the universe. It's enlightening and awe-inspiring.
The grounds of the Hummingbird Center are abundant with wildlife and sights for you to take in. If you're up for a jungle tour, one of the employees will take a group around the property to show you the different types of foliage and offer you to catch a glimpse of some of the animals; like monkeys, birds and insects. It's an amazing experience and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.
10. It will change your life
After taking ayahuasca and experiencing the visions and getting insight from this wonderful medicine, you'll never be the same again.
For many people it is the most profound experience of their life, even more than the birth of a child. It definitely was for me.
It made me see the world in a whole new light and prompted me to feel more connected to the earth and all of the life on it than ever before. It left me feeling better about myself and with a sense of accomplishment. It completely cleansed me physically and purified me; I felt healthier than I had since I was a little boy, prior to all of the external stimuli, societal pressures, toxins and substances to which I had been exposed over the previous couple of decades.
Most important of all, I have a much more positive attitude towards life, myself and my abilities.
This experience also offers you the opportunity to make new friends and deeply connect with people with whom you otherwise never would have crossed paths. Many of the friends that I made during my visits to the Hummingbird Center will be lifelong. When you spend a number of days with people and have no access to external stimuli like television, the internet and other distractions it forces you to have to have authentic face-to-face interactions. There is very little small talk. You get to have in-depth discussions that are meaningful and you can express yourself freely without fear of judgement.
As most everyone that attends is there to address some type of issue that they're going through, it's only natural that deep and emotional discussions take place. It's therapeutic and part of the healing process and it brings people together. Though we may be separated by long distances, I feel more connected to some of these people than to friends I've known for many years.
For those seeking true healing, whether it be physical, spiritual or mental, ayahuasca is a great avenue to accomplish this. The Hummingbird Ayahuasca Healing and Retreat Center provides the perfect setting and environment for you to do so.
Before you head out, make sure you do thorough research as to know what to expect. Don’t look for a cheap option as this is something that you get what you pay for. Do it right. Do the research. Prepare yourself. Spend the money to attend a reputable retreat. You will not regret it. Buen viaje!