About This Center
We created Alma Healing Center (Alma or la Clínica del Alma) to treat ailments at the emotional level (grief, trauma, ruptures, failures) and accomplish this through the Amazonian cosmovision and rituals using sacred plants inherited by our ancestors.
We are a diverse team of professionals with a shared vision about spiritual development as the cornerstone to healthy living.
Alma is a project directed by Taita Alejandro Ayuryü, a certified practitioner of ancestral medicine and representative of the cultural organization and Kichwa indigenous community where retreats take place.
Our primary base is located within 50 hectares (123 acres) of primary and secondary Amazon rainforest in the province of Pastaza in Ecuador. Along with the nine Kichwa indigenous families that live in this area, we believe in sharing our way of living, thinking and the sacred medicine carried down through our family lineages. To continue sharing this legacy left by our grandparents, we have opened our doors to other tribes and people.
One of my main concerns when searching for an ayahuasca retreat was safety and trust in those guiding me. I'm so grateful to have met Alejandro. During the retreat I learned how to take life, and myself, a little less seriously, and how to feel connected and revitalized through nature. The community where we stayed is lovely and I'm honored to have been welcomed to their "home in the forest". I would highly recommend this retreat for those that see something simple, affordable, safe and authentic.
Venue HighlightsAlma Healing Center is based out of a small Kichwa indigenous community about an hour's drive from Puyo. It's an opportunity to observe and live among an authentic group of Kichwa families that continue to value, and nurture, their natural surroundings and live traditionally.
Since it isn't very far into the Amazon, access is convenient and doesn't require long journeys (trips farther into the Amazon often require a day to get there and a day to get back). Many visitors will continue on to Baños or Tena and Quito after the retreats, which helps them make the most of their time in Ecuador.
The community is located within 50 hectares (123 acres) of primary and secondary Amazon rainforest and there are many trails nearby that take you to beautiful lagoons and waterfalls (local guides/community members are required). Canoeing is also possible, given interest by participants and planning in advance.
AccommodationsGuests stay in basic huts made from local materials; the same huts members of the community live in and which they have built themselves to accommodate visitors. There are a number of huts available, but since we like to keep our groups small, the available configurations include:
**All beds have mosquito nets.**
- River hut (pictured): Room 1 - double bed, Room 2 - 3 twin beds
- Cocina hut: 2 twin beds, closer to kitchen and volleyball court
- Cocina hut 2: 1 double bed between kitchen and Jesus's house
- Cancha hut: double bed facing soccer field
In terms of bathrooms, these are also basic. There are three toilets available and 1 shower. Please be warned that when it rains heavily pipes sometimes get clogged. Our team does its best to keep bathrooms clean and working and are currently raising funds to improve these facilities for the community and its guests.
Our accommodations may be simple, but it lends for a more authentic experience with the community and does not take away from your spiritual journey. If anything, it only adds to it.
- Tour Assistance
Menu/CuisineDuring our retreats, we will usually be drinking ayahuasca in the evenings and because of that we only have one real meal a day, at around 11am (more like brunch).
While many retreat centers focus heavily on diet prior to and during the retreat, we take a much more relaxed stance, insisting instead that guests don't eat past 2pm if they plan to partake in the night's ayahuasca ceremony. We believe Ayahuasca takes you as you are, and drastically changing your diet two weeks prior to the retreat won't change the essence of who you are. Ayahuasca will see right through that sugar detox and the chicken wing you quickly ate during your plant-based diet :) All jokes aside, if guests choose to follow a stricter diet prior to the retreat, we are happy to offer suggestions. Fasting during the diet has a greater effect on ensuring that the medicine takes effect, in our experience.
For our 11am meal:
- We'll start with local fruit, yogurt, honey and granola with horchata or guayusa tea, and coffee for those that so desire (again, we're not strict when it comes to diet!).
- This will be followed by a wholesome meal of rice prepared with mushrooms, eggs (scrambled, fried, as you desire), a filling side of legumes or beans for protein intake and a fresh salad.
- On one day of the retreat we offer guests to the opportunity to eat maito, a local dish, made of fresh water fish steamed in leaves, with a side of yucca and salad. This is usually served with lime, but we try to avoid acidic foods in case they come back to haunt us during the ceremony.
While we have fresh fruit available, if leaving from Puyo, we often stop by a local fruit market and encourage guests to buy additional fruit if they tend to get snacky on hikes and throughout the day, always considering fasting for the evening's ritual.
DirectionsFrom Quito, it's a 5 hour drive to Puyo. One of our team members, Sandra, tends to drive from Tumbaco (a valley right outside of Quito) and can offer spots in her car only asking that the cost of gas be shared.
- Private transport from Quito (by car) can also be organized at around $30 per person. Buses are much cheaper ($7) but less convenient as you may have to first get to one of the Quito bus terminals in the north (Carcelén) or south (Quitumbe).
From Baños, Puyo is only 1.5 hours away by bus and the cost is low at around $4.
If arriving in Guayaquil, the drive takes around 8 hours by bus and costs about $15.
Domestic flights aren't available to Puyo or Baños, unfortunately. If comfort and convenience are a factor, we suggest having a private car organized.
ReviewsWrite a review - tell others about your experience.
Timothy Babbitt February 02, 2020If you speak about that which is very sacred, it goes...(but reviewing Alma is worth the risk!)
Alma Healing Center is one of those discoveries that you’ll be tempted to keep a secret. In fact, if you’ve found yourself here it is more likely that Alma has discovered you--the pull of healing and self discovery is strong. The experience itself is intense and authentic. And if you do find yourself in a difficult moment Alejandro, Sandra, and members of the Sachi Wasi community will take care of you better than you’ve ever been taken care of before. One could argue that the rainforest setting, with a shaman and tribe who maintain a direct lineage to plant medicines is the only place Ayahuasca should be consumed. My first retreat at Alma was so beneficial that I returned the following month with my 70 year old father, and will continue to return for what is really an ineffable experience.
Mar Tina October 07, 2019Life's Magic
From the first cerimony with tayta Alejandro I felt the love, the caring that he is putting in his work, and he managed to pass this love to me so strongly. The first experience with him with awacoya (San Pedro) was just amazing, really deeply revealing and life-changing. I discovered a lot about my self and about universe, thanks to the plant and to the beautiful stories Alejandro related during the night. He has been really attentive to the needs of every single person present in the cerimony. I was amazed. From that time I kept on taking plants with him, and every experience was worth!! I always felt so cared and looked after. He's a beautiful and trustful soul. And he play music in a divine way! Super recomended :)
Miriam Hinthorn September 06, 2019I hate to call anything "life changing," but this was!
I recently had my first Kambo and Ayahuasca ceremonies through Alma Healing Center and would 100% recommend it to anyone who is interested in an authentic and meaningful experience. Bear in mind that when it comes to Ayahuasca, the shaman/taita who guides you is the absolute most important part of your experience. After my experience, I would almost go as far as to say that nothing else really matters if you have a good guide, so I feel incredibly lucky to have been guided by Alejandro. Alejandro turned the most challenging parts of the ceremonies into the most valuable life lessons I've ever had and was able to intuitively sense a lot of what I and the others were feeling, often without us even needing to verbally explain anything. Other things to note about the Alma experience: 1. The village (Sacha Wasi) where the retreats are held are totally different from the westernized plant medicine centers that are popping up all over the place, and actually being in a traditional setting helped get me and the others into a much more receptive mindset. 2. The Alma team is amazing. They were so good about connecting with each of us, answering our questions, and making the experience memorable. 3. When the weather permits, they take you on amazing waterfall hikes. 4. The climate is more or less ideal. Warm during the day, cool at night.
Ana July 23, 2019Why I keep coming back to Alma Healing Center
I've done Ayahuasca and San Pedro with Alejandro now about 8 times since 2014 and though I've met other healers here in Ecuador I keep choosing Alma Healing Center because each experience has been unique, holistic and memorable. I've done it in the Andes, in Puyo and even on the coast and no matter where we've done it what makes the experience unique its Alejandro, his philosophy behind the medicine and the medicine its self which he prepares. The shaman/guide really is what makes the difference from a good experience or a bad one. One of those things is how they approach the medicine. Alejandro approaches the medicinal plants as a way to understand ourselves better so we can interact with the world in a better way. Its not a gimmick or turisty trap. He values people wanting to experience the plants and what they have to offer. The other is how well they are able to guide a group or be able to take care of someone who is having difficulty- whether its emotional, spiritual or just dealing with the physical aspect of it. Even with my many experiences in different rituales there have still been times I needed help navigating what I was going through and Alejandro was always there to help. That's also why the groups are kept small because he takes that part seriously. The last thing is also how a shaman is involved in their community. When he brings people there its about understanding a whole way of life and I respect that about the center. Something to keep is that the rituales usually take place outdoors in nature though there are accomodations. Just be ready to rough it out a bit because its part of the experience. The center takes care of organizing most everything that happens when you're in the space so really it becomes a place where you can focus on why you're there and relax. They are always helpful with information before hand- answering questions or guiding people on how to get to the center or what to bring/expect so don't be afraid to ask questions.
Sandra ten Zijthoff July 23, 2019Highly recommended, authentic experience
Experiencing ayahuasca in Ecuador with Alma Healing Center has changed my life. Ayahuasca is no joke...it can show you things you didn't know about yourself and it can be scary. During the ceremonies, I learned a lot and I am grateful to Alejandro for supporting me in this process. The retreats take place in a small community outside of Puyo, it takes about 45 minutes to get there by car. We met Alejandro at a park in Puyo and then went to the community together. You should eat something before you go to the meet location because food isn't included the first day and since there will be a ceremony that night, it's best to eat a hearty breakfast and fast the rest of the afternoon. The community is simple, when it rains a lot it gets quite muddy, and there's something really charming about the simplicity. There's barely any phone signal or places to charge your phone which makes it easier to just disconnect, turn the phone off and appreciate the surroundings. The huts are also basic, but have mosquito nets and give you an authentic view into the everyday life of the people here. There were little monkeys hanging out near the kitchen when I was there, and a pet wild boar called Pancho. The people from the community are shy but very warm. The last morning of the retreat, after an incredible ceremony, the community medicine woman came and gave us a limpia, rubbing us with soft river stones and cleansing us with smoke. It was incredible. Since you drink ayahuasca every night, you normally sleep from 6am-11am, eat breakfast and then have the option of resting and meditating or journaling, or going on a hike. If the weather is really bad (rainy, muddy) sometimes hikes aren't possible so it's good to bring a book or journal in case that happens. If the weather is good, definitely go on the hikes! They take you to awesome waterfalls and on the way give you the opportunity to try other medicinal plants, some are quite strong! The hikes and time by the river help you connect to nature and calms you. It combines really well with the ceremonies, and by the last day you feel like you are peaceful and connected in a way you didn't know. Come here with an open mind...don't expect to follow a strict schedule or plan. Remember that you came here to experience ayahuasca in the Amazon, and that's it! This place is safe and real, I will definitely be coming back for more time here to reconnect with nature and myself while disconnecting from work, electronics, stress and unhealthy patterns.
Darina Onoprienko March 12, 2019These 4 days opened a new perspective. My amazing time in Puyo with Alejandro and Sandra.
I don’t think a simple review is enough to express my thankfulness to Alejandro and Sandra for the experience in the during my trip to Puyo. These 4 days gave me a unique opportunity to look at my life from a different perspective, learn and see what’s around me in a moment. Thus, I do want to highlight that the entire experience is not only about taking ayahuasca tea, but about being in the nature, community and yourself. I can’t wish for more unique, better experience and more amazing people around me. During the days we were going to waterfalls, cooking, eating, chilling, staying at the river, listening to birds, playing with dogs, cats, 2 crazy small monkeys and 1 big one, Mona. There is no electricity, no connection, no hurry and all the time of the world. You really feel you don’t need much to just happily live. During the nights we were experiencing the power of plants during ayahuasca ceremonies. Sometimes people from the community were joining us, sometimes we were just 4. As the entire group was small, the ceremonies took place at the river side in the hammocks. A ceremony takes the whole night, starting from the opening words. My Spanish was at the beginners level, but Alejandro managed to explain the most in words I could understand. This made the experience unique, because I could hear and feel it myself, I’m very thankful for that too. Of course, Sandra was around to give me a hand whenever I felt lost. During the night you might experience different states, some might scare you or make you panic. Alejandro is very inclusive, very gentle; a different kind of shaman. During the ceremony he will definitely step in if you need support and spend as much time as needed to calm you down. I felt very safe and taken care of. I don’t know really what else to wish for… The experience in the jungle keep on influencing me as I got back to my normal (haha) life; I feel more power, more creativity and calmness.