How to choose the best ayahuasca retreat at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

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How to Choose the Best ayahuasca Retreat at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

Ayahuasca, “the Grandmother”, as it is known, is a psychoactive brew that many are using to go on an inner journey. The medicine, when used properly, has the potential to unlock fresh perspectives for those on a healing journey. There are a lot of medicine ceremonies around San Marcos on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala and finding the right ayahuasca retreat can be challenging. Whether you are looking to journey for your first time or have lots of experience, it can be difficult to know where to go and who to trust.

Here are some key things to look for when choosing a plant medicine retreat:

icaros or ayahuasca music at lake atitlan guatemala

Experienced ayahuasca ceremony facilitators.

Research the facilitators leading the ayahuasca ceremonies. Look for experienced and reputable shamans or facilitators with a deep understanding of ayahuasca and its traditional use. Our retreats at Bigger Life Adventures use trusted ayahuasqueros from Forest Path. We have sat in their ceremonies as have our friends and their friends. They create and hold a safe space, respect the medicine, and have put in the dedicated time and study to facilitate these potentially transformative journeys. Read more about Jayaji’s background.

ayahuasca ceremony lake atitlan san marcos guatemala

The temple at Casa Floresta is the perfect place to heal.

Where to take Ayahuasca? In a peaceful setting.

The location of the ayahuasca ceremony is very important. You’ll want to be somewhere that you feel safe, comfortable, able to let go of To Do Lists and communicate with the outside world for a bit. You definitely DON’T want to go on a plant medicine journey and then have to go to work the next day! Our Bigger Life Adventures retreat will be at Casa Floresta on the shores of Lago Atitlán. A Nahuatl word, “Atitlán” translates to “the place where the rainbow gets its colors.” Natural places with breathtaking beauty and power have sacred meaning to the Maya, and this volcanic lake is no exception.

Casa Floresta’s Temple, on the shore of the sacred lake, under the ancient volcanoes, is absolutely surreal. The scene is set right from the start, when you arrive to the temple by boat, passing through a portal from the default world to a place of serene beauty.

Is taking Ayahuasca culturally respectful?

Seek a retreat that emphasizes cultural integration and respect for the indigenous traditions associated with ayahuasca, as well as the local people. This will enhance the authenticity and depth of the experience. The Forest Path facilitators have trained extensively in the regions where ayahuasca is traditionally used. They use their connections to garnish sustainably-harvested vines that contain the potent medicine. Note that there are no laws against ayahuasca use in Guatemala, which is why we can legally promote and advertise a retreat involving its use.

What to eat for Ayahuasca? The “Dieta”.

Any reputable plant medicine retreat or ceremony should advise you on how to follow a proper “dieta” in the weeks leading up to the ceremony. How strict you get with this before arriving to Guatemala is up to you. It is not super strict (except for rules about pharmaceutical drug interactions) but it is advisable if you can. When you start your dieta is when your ceremony actually begins.

The food at Casa Floresta is designed to set you up for the best possible ayahuasca experience. It is important to come into the ceremony healthy and well nourished. The plant-based food is prepared following some simple guidelines that put your body in a good state to drink the medicine.

San Marcos and the entire Atitlan area is a great place to eat healthy as there are many markets full of fresh, local fruits and vegetables!

How long is an ayahuasca retreat.

Our retreat near San Marcos on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala is five nights. This allows time to arrive, prepare and participate in two unrushed ceremonies on two different nights, then time to integrate before leaving the retreat.

Psychedelic integration support services.

The lessons you learn in the ceremony are only powerful if you can successfully integrate them into your waking life. Integration of what you learned following the ceremony is an important step that is often overlooked by even those who have sat in many ceremonies. Yoga, journaling, sharing circles, quiet time, and time in nature are all helpful integration practices that we will partake in during our retreat. Optional post-homecoming integration meetings online will be offered as well. Forest Path also provides 1-on-1 integration support from a Psychedelic Therapist for those who wish to add this one.

How much does Ayahuasca Cost?

A typical ayahuasca ceremony usually costs around $250. Our Bigger Life Adventures Lake Atitlan Guatemala retreat includes two ayahuasca ceremonies during the five-night event. The ceremonies always include incredible music from Forest Path that is not offered in every setting. Keep reading to the end for the cost of the full retreat and accommodation options.

With plant-medicine the music is very important.

The Forest Path facilitators have curated a songbook with a collection of 100 ayahuasca medicine songs (“icaros”) which they perform throughout the ceremony. The musical performance would have the power to heal on its own, without any medicine. They truly are masters of their trade and create an experience that few in the world could match.

Spiritual routine around the ceremonies.

Yoga classes, breathwork, meditations, sauna, massage, and cold water swimming are practices that can help the mind and body before, during, and after drinking ayahuasca. Bigger Life Adveture’s retreats have daily yoga and spiritual practices that are designed to complement the medicine ceremonies.

yoga to support ayahuasca ceremonies
The group dynamic of retreats and ceremonies.

Bigger Life Adventures’ retreat at Lake Atitlan will be specialized for those individuals who are already on a journey of recovery from addiction, trauma, etc. Participants must be on the healing path already, with good self-awareness, and experience with other forms of holistic healing. Everyone who comes will be vetted to make sure they will fit well with the group dynamic. We don’t believe that ayahuasca is for everyone. It is a profoundly powerful medicine that changes many lives for the better, as it has for us. However, given to someone who isn’t ready, or doesn’t particularly need this type of medicine, ayahuasca can slow down or derail their healing journey. That is why we must speak to everyone before they sign up!

Remember to approach Ayahuasca ceremonies with respect and mindfulness, and choose a retreat that aligns with your spiritual and personal growth goals. If you would like to join our Bigger Life Adventures retreat at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, click here for more information! Please note that you MUST be sober from alcohol, drugs, antidepressants, and other plant-medicines for a certain time period before and during the retreat, even if being off of these things is not a part of your normal life. This includes SSRI type medications that can have negative interactions with Ayahuasca. If you have doubts about your ability to do this, please talk to us about that before signing up. Thank you.

What our plant-medicine retreat will include:


January 4-9, 2025


Land in Guatemala City (cheap flights from the USA on Spirit Airlines) and we will arrange shared shuttles from the airport directly to Lake Atitlan (3 hour drive). Please check in with us before booking flights to ensure your chosen itinerary will get you there in time.

Stay tuned for an option to stay a few days longer and do some amazing volcano hikes and adventures in the area after the retreat

What’s included in our plant-medicine retreat near San Marcos on Lake Atitilan in Guatemala:

Two Ayahuasca ceremonies (6-8 hours each), exact nights TBD

Double or single accommodation at Casa Colibri, next door to Casa Floresta

Daily yoga and meditation guided by Carrie & Zach (always optional if you need to relax and integrate in another way)

Morning smoothie/ coffee and tea; two delicious vegetarian meals daily (brunch and dinner) and an afternoon snack (dieta friendly)

Group sauna and plant bath

Paddleboards available for use on the lake

3-hour KIrtan chanting concert with The Forest Path

Free time for exploration and relaxation

2 online integration support calls after we return home

Click here to book your spot!

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