Demystifying the process
Frequently asked questions
Is ayahuasca safe?
Yes is safe to drink ayahuasca. Our ayahuasca brew is pure ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi) and chacruna (Psychotria viridis) which means there are no admixtures. This is the safest form of ayahuasca. There are medical guidelines to follow before drinking ayahuasca to ensure your own safety as some pharmaceutical medications are contradindicated with ayahuasca. We have a comprehensive health and wellness screening questionaiire in accordance with ICEERS (International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research and Service) before joining our retreat to ensure your safety. We also have a one-on-one online prepration counselling session to help you prepare mentally emotionally and physically before the ayahuasca retreat. There is also more information about the retreat healing diet and preparation here.
There are certain medical conditions which are also contraindicated which you can find more about in our comprehensive medical guidelines
Where is the nearest airport?
The nearest aiport is Iquitos. International flights will first go via Lima. Sometimes you can purchase a connecting flight from Lima to Iquitos with one of the local peruvian airlines for a little cheaper if you buy them seperately, sometimes you may get a better deal by booking the trip all with one airline provider. The local Peruvian airlines are
How do I get to the hotel from the airport once I arrive in Iquitos?
We will have a taxi waiting for you at the Iquitos airport when you arrive. The taxi driver will be holding a sign that says, “Central Bed & Breakfast” and it will have your name on it as well. After picking up your checked luggage and exiting the airport, you will see the taxi driver standing outside in the parking lot. You will be bombarded by many mototaxi and taxi drivers wanting to transport you to your destination. Simply ignore them and instead look for your driver holding the sign with your name on it. The driver will help you with your luggage and transport you directly to Central Bed & Breakfast at no cost. If your flight from Lima to Iquitos is delayed or if you have any difficulties finding your driver at the Iquitos airport, please contact Jamie immediately in one of the following ways:
Jamie Csizmadia Thornhill
P: +51 918516940
WhatsApp: +51 918516940
Facebook Messenger: https://www.facebook.com/casagalactica11
Is the airfare included in the price of the retreat?
Do I need to particpate in every ayahuasca ceremony?
No, all plant medicines, treatments and activities are voluntary, altough we will strongly encourage you to attend every ceremony as healing occurs through the powerful icaros that are sung during ceremony. You do not need to drink ayahuasca to still receive healing
Do I need to take all the additional plant medicines?
No, all plant medicines are completely voluntary. We do encourage you to particpate in the prescribed plant medicines that you are given so that you can get the most out of your ayahuasca retreat.
Is there Malaria in the region?
Yes, in the Iquitos area there is, although it is not the worst type of Malaria, much milder than the strains prevalent in Africa. It is very easy to treat and very unlikely that you would contract malaria during one of our retreats for the following reasons.
We provide a natural anti-malarial tonic that is taken several times per day to increase your immune system
There are very few mosquitos in the area compared to other jungle sites due to the unique soil content in Chamisal Retreat Center and the surrounding area. (Malaria is transmitted through mosquito bites)
Your rooms and ceremony spaces are closed in with mosquito net and you also have your own personal mosquito net over your bed
We have an abundance of mosquito coils available which repel mosquitos
Mosquitos are more prevalent after the sun goes down, deeper in the jungle. (There will be no jungle walks after sunset)
We advise against taking any Malaria prophylactic medications because:
The effects of the prophylactic medication can often be worse than the symptoms of malaria
The prophylactic medication can dangerously interact with ayahuasca and/or other plant medicines
Treatment of malaria is relatively easy and the symptoms are like a bad flu.
Should you wish to use bug spray we would recommend only using natural repellant due to the negative chemical interactions with plant medicines that we provide, especially those which are applied upon the skins (saunas, plant baths etc)
Do I need vaccinations?
Legally you do not require any vaccinations to enter Peru. We do not recommend vaccinations as part of your trip. Many healthcare advisors may advise on vaccinations, it is your decision if you decide to do so. If you decide to do so please do so a minimum of 6 weeks ahead of your retreat to ensure that you do not have any symptoms from the vaccination upon the retreat.
Do I need a Visa to enter Peru?
Please check with the Peruvian embassy online to see the requirements for your own nationality before travelling. In most cases, a visa is not required, you will receive an entry stamp upon arriving at the airport in Peru with a maximum stay of 183 days within 6 months.
Should I bring extra money?
Yes, even through most things are included within our retreat package, you may wish to buy some souvenirs, artwork, jewelry, shamanic tools, fabrics or clothes that are made by our local Shipibo family and friends. There are 2 meals included and 2 nights hotel in Iquitos, so if you wish to stay longer you will need to pay for this and also any additional foods or snacks that you require. The taxi from the airport to the hotel is included, you will need to pay for your own taxi back to the airport when you decide to leave.
Will I be safe travelling in Peru?
Yes, Peru is safe. We have never had any issues throughout the several years that we have been living here, we absolutely love this beautiful country! That said we would not advise walking down dark alleys alone at night. (as we would also not recommend doing in most places around the world!) There are some areas in Lima which can be considered dangerous so if you do decide to stay in Lima, we would advise staying in Miraflores which is very safe, or at the hotel next to the airport (if you prefer this just for a layover.) For connecting flights, you are able to stay in Lima airport with ample restaurants and amenities to keep you occupied until your flight to
Iquitos is very tourist friendly, safe and with well lit areas around the main plaza/hotel and several tasty tourist restaurants with ayahuasca diet menu that you be able to eat at.
When travelling with money we advise obtaining a money belt that you can wear underneath your shirt. We also advise travelling with your money/bank cards in your carry-on luggage on the airplane. We also advise not storing all of your bank cards/money in the same location so in the unlikely event that something were to happen, you would still have access to funds for your trip. We also advise saving $300 as emergency money so that you can have this to assist you in all eventualities.
When walking through the market in Iquitos we advise reversing your backpack so the zippers are at the front and beware of pickpockets.
Having a general good awareness about you is recommended. i.e. do not leave your bag unattended, lock your hotel door etc. Following these precautions, you should be fine.
How should I prepare my work, family, friends, and others for my trip to Peru?
Many people who travel to Peru for our retreats and dietas have full-time jobs, own businesses, have families, take care of pets, and are responsible to others in a variety of ways. One of the biggest mental blocks you may have to travelling is that your life, job, business, family, children, and/or pets will not survive without you. To assist you in ensuring that your responsibilities to others are properly attended to during your absence, we offer the following suggestions:
- Let your employer and/or important clients know of your upcoming trip and absence at least 4 weeks in advance.
- Ensure that a coworker or employee is assigned to assist important clients or continue with important projects as necessary.
- Tell close friends and family members of your upcoming trip and absence.
- Arrange for the proper care of your child/children as needed.
- Arrange for house-sitter and/or pet-sitter as needed.
- Install the WhatsApp app onto your cell phone for free worldwide long-distance calling and texting while in Peru
- Tell your emergency contact and any others whom you desire to communicate with to install the WhatsApp app onto their cell phone as well.
- Email details of your upcoming trip to your emergency contact and at least one other close friend or family member, including your flight itinerary, the contact details of your hotel in Iquitos, and Casa Galactica contact details (see next question for this information).
- Inform your bank(s) and credit card companies of your upcoming travel dates to Peru.
Who is the emergency contact for Casa Galactica?
Jamie Csizmadia Thornhill, Cofounder and Director of Operations, is the emergency contact for Casa Galactica. She can be reached immediately, and your family and friends may contact her at any time in one of the following ways:
P: +51 918516940
WhatsApp: +51 918516940
Facebook Messenger: https://www.facebook.com/casagalactica11
Is ayahuasca legal in Peru?
Is ayahuasca legal?
Yes, ayahuasca is legal in Peru. Casa Galactica operates legally and is licensed to serve ayahuasca.
Is Casa Galactica a licensed or registered business?
Yes, Casa Galactica S.A.C. is an official Peruvian business, registered with, and licensed by, the Peruvian government. RUC:20604329851
Casa Galactica adheres to the International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research, and Service (ICEERS) “Towards Better Ayahuasca Practices” guide for best professional practices. Based on our real-world experience with ayahuasca and facilitating ayahuasca programs, the aforementioned ICEERS guide is the most comprehensive and well thought-out publication regarding suggested minimal safety standards for practitioners and participants.
Casa Galactica not only meets the ICEERS suggested standards, but exceeds them in many instances. It is our goal at Casa Galactica to have strong safety standards, continue to improve on them, and implement them in all of our work.
What plants or ingredients are in the ayahuasca brew?
At Casa Galactica, our ayahuasca brew contains only two plants: Ayahuasca and Chacruna. This is the purest and safest from of ayahuasca. Great care and love goes into preparing our ayahuasca brew. The Ayahuasca vine and the Chacruna leaves are combined with water in a large pot and consistently boiled over an open fire for several days. During this process, prayers, intentions and healing songs (icaros) are sang to the brew to fill it with love and potentiate its healing powers. .Many people say they feel the love in our medicine when they drink it.
When the brew has been cooked and refined, the vine and leaves are then removed, the brew filtered from the pot and the remaining liquid is then bottled and later served by our curanderos during ayahuasca ceremonies.
Where is Casa Galactica's retreat center located?
Our retreat center is located 5 minutes from the Mishana Community in the Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve of the Amazonian rainforest. This is in the Loreto region of Peru, a few hours journey by bus and boat from the city of Iquitos, Peru.
Our retreat center is called Chamisal Healing & Retreat Center.
This is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. Please check out our retreat center page to get a better view of the surrounding area, the community and the National Reserve which you will get to enjoy and immerse yourself in during your Ayahuasca Retreat or Noya Rao dieta!
When should I arrive in Iquitos for my retreat or dieta?
The absolute latest we recommend you arrive is no later than 12:00pm on the day your retreat or dieta begins. That being said, we highly suggest you arrive at least 24 hours before your retreat or dieta begins – this allows you time to adjust to the new environment, get some rest, and acclimate. This also gives you a little buffer time in the case of a delayed flight.
If you arrive earlier than the day your retreat or dieta begins, you will be responsible for your personal expenses (like hotel and food) until the retreat or dieta begins.
Can I drink the water in Peru?
Local tap water in Peru, including Lima and Iquitos, is not considered potable. This means that you should not drink any water out of any sink (bathroom or kitchen). Only bottled or treated water should be used for drinking, cooking, and brushing your teeth. Bottled water and filtered water are readily available at the Lima airport, hotels, grocery stores, and restaurants. At the hotel where you will be staying with us in Iquitos, filtered or bottled drinking water will be available at all times.
At our Chamisal Healing & Retreat Center in the jungle, we will have abundant drinking water available to you at all times in the community kitchen and dining room. So, it’s best that you bring a reusable 1-liter water bottle to refill for yourself throughout the day.
Why can’t I flush toilet paper down the toilet in Peru?
Sewer disposal and elimination in Peru, including Lima and Iquitos, is not capable of handling paper products and sanitary napkins. This means you should never flush anything besides pee and poo down the toilet. If you do so, you may cause an expensive and disruptive plumbing problem for the facility who owns the bathroom. The same holds true at our Chamisal Healing & Retreat Center in the jungle.
Please DO NOT flush any toilet paper, paper towels, paper products, or sanitary napkins down the toilets. Instead, simply throw them away in the nearby trashcan. Thank you!
Where exactly will I be staying during my trip?
When you arrive at Iquitos airport in Peru, you will be picked up by our taxi driver and driven to your hotel for a one stay one night at Central Bed & Breakfast in Iquitos. This is our favourite hotel that we have stayed at during all of our time living and working in Iquitos. The service is exceptional and all of your needs will be looked after by their courteous and kind staff. The rooms are clean, quiet, comfortable and air conditioned. Nearby by restaurants and shops are easily accesible. Should you wish to arrive early and book additional nights at the hotel (at your own cost) please contact us ahead of time so that we can arrange this for you.
When we depart from the jungle we will take a bus ride and then a boat trip up the Nanay River in the Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve. After an hour on a magestic boat ride through the National Reserve, we arrive in the jungle community of Mishana to stay at our Chamisal Healing & Retreat Center for the duration of your retreat or dieta. Chamisal Retreat Center is completely off grid and solar powered with purified drinking water available on site
The Mishana Community is absolutely breathtaking, one of the most beautiful and friendly places on earth that we have ever been, We are so fortunate to have the Mishana Community as our home for all of our jungle retreats and so excited to share this with you.
You can find more about our retreat center and the Mishana Community here.
At the completion of your retreat or dieta, you will return to Iquitos, Peru and stay one night in Central Bed & Breakfast again.
Each ayahuasca retreat or Noya Rao dieta includes 2 nights hotel stay including 2 evening meals and 2 breakfasts. In the jungle you will have all inclusive accomodation/food + services at our Chamisal Retreat Center. Full information is outlined respectively on our Ayahuasca Plant Spirit Healing Retreat Page and Noya Rao Initiation Dieta Page
For any further questions, please feel free to contact us
Does the retreat center have fans or air conditioning?
In the city of Iquitos, your hotel room will have air conditioning, and you will most likely need it, because the temperatures are warmer in the urban environment. We do not have electric fans at our Chamisal Healing & Retreat Center, because the jungle setting is much cooler. All social areas and personal rooms at our retreat center are completely covered and shaded from the sun. All personal rooms also have ample windows and screening to allow in the cool jungle air. We have not found electric fans to be necessary in the jungle.
Is laundry service available at Casa Galactica?
Casa Galactica provides laundry service free of charge approximately every 5 days to all participants during their stay at Chamisal Healing & Retreat Center. Laundry is hand-washed and air-dried onsite. Laundry is normally returned within 2 days, but if it is raining a lot it will take longer. Casa Galactica provides linens, blankets, and pillows for all participants.
Will I be able to use my cell phone and have access to internet?
Depending on your cell phone provider, you should have good cell phone service in Lima and Iquitos. The Central Bed & Breakfast hotel where you will be staying with us in Iquitos has good internet service that you may connect to. Before you leave home for your trip, we suggest that you and your emergency contact install the WhatsApp app onto your cell phones for free worldwide long-distance calling and texting while in Peru. This will allow you to stay in touch with family and friends without paying for long distance or texting fees. Once you arrive at our Chamisal Healing & Retreat Center in the jungle, there is no internet connection or cell phone reception available at the center itself.
Plan to be completely “unplugged”, meaning having no technological contact with the outside world, for your entire stay in the jungle. That being said, we suggest to all our retreat participants to take full advantage of being technologically disconnected and to use this time of sweet solitude to be completely immersed in your own healing processes, personal growth, and illuminating experiences. We’ve found that it’s actually quite nice and very different, in the world we live in today, to have an opportunity to “be away from it all” and simply be focused on yourself.
We recommend to spend quality time with loved ones before your journey and let them know that you will be out of contact for two weeks in the jungle. This helps them prepare for your absence too and so that they can prepare themselves to not be in contact with you for a couple of weeks. This time apart can be tough in itself but know that this time that you set aside for yourself and your own healing work will infinitely improve all of your relationships (including the one with yourself!) This period of absence between your other relationships creates space for more love to grow inside you so that this love may overflow to others following the retreat. Self-love is a large part of the work which we embark upon in our healing retreats. This space creates fertile ground for the improvement of all aspects of your life.
We have emergency phone communications at the retreat center in the unlikely event of an emergency.
Do I need a converter or adaptor for the electricity in Peru?
Peru uses 220-volt, electricity.
What happens if there’s an emergency at home while I’m on retreat or dieta in the jungle?
If an emergency happens at home, please tell your emergency contact to reach out to Jamie Csizmadia Thornhill, Cofounder and Director of Operations at Casa Galactica, immediately in one of the following ways:
Jamie Csizmadia Thornhill
P: +51 918516940
WhatsApp: +51 918516940
Facebook Messenger: https://www.facebook.com/casagalactica11
Jamie will then contact Michael Thornhill, Cofounder and Curandero of Casa Galactica, at the retreat center in the jungle to pass along the message to you from your emergency contact. Therefore, we encourage you to speak with your emergency contact and any other relevant friends or loved ones ahead of time to inform them of this procedure.
Can I use my current health insurance coverage while I’m in Peru?
Most likely, the answer is “No”. You will want to check with your health insurance company to be sure however. If you’d like to ensure that you have medical coverage while on your trip, you may purchase Travel Insurance. We are not able to personally recommend any specific Travel Insurance companies, but there are many available. We recommend you do your own research to determine the best Travel Insurance company for you.
How much cash should I carry on me while traveling to Peru?
When traveling to Peru, we suggest having US$100-US$500 in cash on hand.
Even through most things are included within our retreat package, you may wish to buy some souvenirs, artwork, jewelry, shamanic tools, fabrics or clothes that are made by our local Shipibo family and the Mishana Commununity.
We pay for a hotel stay in Iquitos either side of the retreat at Central Bed & Breakfast. This includes breakfast and each of these days we will also be going out for an evening meal together which is included in the retreat pacakge. If if you wish to stay longer you will need to pay for this accomodation and also any additional foods or snacks that you require. The taxi from the airport to the hotel is included, you will need to pay for your own taxi back to the airport when you decide to leave.
If you have time, you can exchange some of your US$ to Peruvian soles (PEN) at the Lima airport. The exchange rate from US$ to soles at present is usually around 3.3 ($1.00 = 3.3 soles). Having soles on hand before arriving in Iquitos will allow you to pay for food and necessities more easily. You may also exchange your US$ to soles once you arrive in Iquitos, and we can show you where to do that. Make sure all of your US$ bills are crisp, clean, and free from tears or pen marks of any kind.
Counterfeiting is common in Peru, and most money exchange businesses in Iquitos will not accept bills with even the tiniest slit, rip, hole, stamp, ink blot, or staple mark on them. Also note that most restaurants, stores, markets, handicraft vendors, and shops in Iquitos take cash only for purchases.
Urias, Angela and Emilio who work at our retreats are also talented Shipibo artisans. They make and sell their intricately designed fabrics, clothing and Noya Rao pipes/jewelry at our retreats and dietas also take cash only for purchases. These are really amazing and you may be interested to buy some of these high-quality pieces of art.
The local Mishana Community also make different handcrafts and jewelry using local products. This is a great way to further support the local community through buying their lovingly designed work.
100% of the money goes direct to the artists. We recommended waiting to see what they have on offer before purchasing the art in Iquitos. You can always buy something else in Iquitos after the retreat if you like.
Can I withdraw cash while I’m in Peru?
The answer is “Yes”. There are numerous automatic withdrawal machines in the Iquitos airport and within the city center of Iquitos. The automatic withdrawal machines are run by local Peruvian banks, and you will more than likely be charged an additional fee by the Peruvian bank and your home bank for use of the machine. You may withdraw cash from these machines in US$ or Peruvian soles.
Can I use credit cards to make purchases in Peru?
The answer is “Yes”, however please consider the following:
- If you plan to use your credit cards or debit cards to make purchases while traveling in Peru, make sure you know and understand your bank’s international use fees. International use fees on credit cards can range from 3% to 15% per purchase, depending on your bank’s policies.
- VISA and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit and debit cards in Peru. Both charge and additional service fee when you use them in Peru.
- Also note that most restaurants, stores, markets, handicraft vendors, indigenous artisans, and shops in Iquitos take cash only for purchases.