Diving Deep with Dr. Dennis McKenna, Ph.D.

  • Soltara Healing Center Soltara Healing Center
  • Playa Blanca, Paquera, Costa Rica
  • Nov 10 - 17, 2019 (8 days)
  • Private Eco-Tambo (No A/C) - $2,953.00 Quad Shared Suite (Gender Neutral | Full Size Bunk Beds) - $3,598.00 Quad Shared Suite (Female[-Identifying] Only | Full Size Bunk Beds) - $3,598.00 Double Shared Suite (2 King Beds) - $4,487.00 Private Couples S

About This Event

Dennis McKenna’s prolific career in ethnopharmacology, botany, and psychedelic science spans a wide variety of disciplines, avenues, and countries. He has given numerous lectures on topics ranging from plant medicines, to consciousness, to spirituality, to pharmacology, and has authored or co-authored over 50 peer-reviewed scientific papers and written books, including “The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss: My Life with Terence McKenna”, and “The Invisible Landscape” with his brother Terence. He has also organized conferences, served as principle investigator for various research projects related to ayahuasca and other plant medicines, served as professor of Botanical Medicines and Ethnopharmacology, and conducted extensive fieldwork in the Peruvian, Colombian, and Brazilian Amazon. You can read his full bio here.

Dr. McKenna’s advisory role to Soltara and extensive knowledge of psychedelics and plant medicines has informed our mission of spreading high quality information about these healing modalities. As such, we are excited and honored to be hosting Dr. McKenna for a special week of integrative medicine work, November 10 – 17, 2019. Offering a series of lectures and workshops as adjuncts to ayahuasca ceremony, Dr. McKenna will weave his scientific and cultural understanding of ayahuasca, psychedelics, consciousness, science, and spirituality throughout the week, providing an opportunity for participants to dive deeply into the world of holistic healing, from both an objective and experiential perspective.

Guests will embark on a journey of self- and world-discovery, as Dr. McKenna takes us through topics such as:

Climbing the Vine: 45 Years of Ayahuasca: Ayahuasca has been the focus of my professional research in Ethnopharmacology since I first came to Peru in 1981 to conduct fieldwork for my doctoral thesis at the University of British Columbia. Since then it has become integrated into my own spiritual practice while continuing to remain important to me as a subject for scientific investigation. I can honestly say that my most interesting travels and personal adventures as a scientist and human being have been due to ayahuasca. In this workshop, I will share some of these personal reminiscences plus a brief overview of some of the science behind this mysterious medicine.

Origins of the Imagination: Speculations on the Antiquity of Consciousness: No one knows for sure when consciousness first emerged in our species but we can speculate about the environmental and evolutionary forces that contributed to it. One major factor was the controlled use of fire, which stimulated the migration from arboreal to savannah environments, and vastly expanded nutritional options, contributing to omnivory. Fire also provided the fundamental tools needed for pharmacology and chemistry. Migration into savannah environments would also have brought ancient hominids into contact with Psilocybin mushrooms that co-existed in this environment as symbionts on ungulate species that were also major food sources for the hominids. Accidental or deliberate ingestion of these species may have been a catalyst for the emergence of cognition, symbolic thought, and language. The fossil record is incomplete, but we find evidence of human consciousness in the artifacts that show evidence of abstract thinking and internal visualization.

What is not Patented is Prohibited: The Exploitation, Ownership, and Criminalization of Nature: Indigenous people have accumulated an intricate and deeply-rooted knowledge of their biological environment. Historically, outside nations have come in and utilized this knowledge and plants for their own purposes, benefiting greatly from them but with little to no reciprocity for the indigenous stewards of such knowledge. As a result, there is a current cultural clash between modern nations and those who have maintained the ecological habitats and knowledge of these plants. This talk discusses the history, current issues and concerns surrounding indigenous knowledge, intellectual property rights, and “biopiracy” – the theft of indigenous knowledge and genetic resources.

Join us November 10 – 17, 2019 for a week of integrative medicine work and deep spiritual healing, combining the time-honored practices of traditional Shipibo shamanism with an in-depth look at some of the most fascinating topics facing humanity today.

With the myriad of information out there, it can be difficult to determine where and how to start. Our goal at Soltara is to flip the script, bringing the expertise to you in an accessible, informed way, grounded in the spirit of cultural awareness and tradition.

Your stay at Soltara includes:

4 ayahuasca ceremonies with highly-experienced Peruvian female & male Shipibo healers

Multiple lectures and workshops led by Dr. McKenna throughout the week, followed by Q&A sessions

The opportunity to share stories, experiences, and ceremonies with Dr. McKenna throughout the week

Intimate group sizes (maximum capacity 20 guests) with individualized attention from healers during ceremony

High facilitator-to-guest ratio with skilled facilitators who have combined decades of experience working in ceremony and helping guests through the healing process

One-on-one consultations with our healers (and translator)

On-site integration workshops and sharing circles

All meals in our conscious cuisine kitchen, prepared fresh daily from organic, pesticide-free, local sources in an ayahuasca-friendly manner

Transportation to and from the pick-up location near SJO airport (details in your confirmation email and on our travel logistics page)

Yoga classes for all levels throughout your stay

Pranayama breathwork and meditation sessions

Floral baths with medicinal plants lovingly prepared by our healers

Nature immersion and multiple walking trails in one of the most abundant & biodiverse regions on the planet

Access to our creative space for music, art, writing, and dance

Access to our private on-site pool

Air-conditioning in all rooms

High-speed WiFi (although we encourage all guests to disconnect as much as possible!)

Lifetime 10% discount for all return visits

Participation in our premiere integration program and community with a highly qualified integration support team

Access to two semi-private beaches with gentle waters along the gorgeous Gulf of Nicoya



Our week-long program is designed for your optimal ease and comfort, so you can free your mind to focus fully on yourself and your experience.

We look forward to supporting you.




We are called to serve medicine in sacred ceremony with integrity, humility, and compassion. By creating a safe space and working only with experienced, well-intentioned healers and facilitators, we uphold the lessons of the medicines and build a foundation of mutual trust, authenticity, and respect. We are not gurus, preachers, or enlightened beings – our healers are maestros who humbly transmit the knowledge and healing energies of the plants, and our facilitators are devoted to helping guests face, process, and explore difficult experiences and emotions, handle projections, manage expectations, and surrender to the process. We strive to uphold the highest integrity in everything we do and be a beacon for responsible, safe, and ethical practices, such that our guests feel safe and supported to get the most out of their healing.


Dear fellow travelers, if you are thinking of a plant medicine retreat, go to Soltara. It's a beautiful place with tremendous support staff. You will be safe, secure, and cared for. The grounds are beautiful with mature plantings, the rooms are air conditioned and the food is great. I got healing on levels I never expected. The whole experience is truly a gift. I believe I will be back.


Venue Highlights

At Soltara, we work with indigenous Peruvian Shipibo female and male shamans, and have decades of combined experience working at top-rated Ayahuasca retreat centers in the Peruvian Amazon. We are honored to promote the expansion of plant medicines and holistic health in an accessible, respectful, informed way.

One thing that we noticed at the centers we came from was the strong focus on the retreat experience itself, with much less emphasis on the before and after – but preparing for the work and effectively integrating the lessons learned into your daily life is as important as learning the lessons themselves. As such, we want to provide a space to experience these medicines directly, but also ensure that we provide the tools and resources for anyone to begin, continue, or integrate their healing journey, in a way that is best for them.

Our approach to these objectives is three-fold:

- We work with a highly experienced clinical psychologists and integration specialists as part of our preparation and integration support team. These team members have a foot in both Western and traditional medicine practices, understanding health from a holistic perspective that incorporates the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual bodies. We offer individual and group sessions to help you get the most out of your experience.

- We provide high-quality videos, informative content, and educational resources surrounding holistic healing, shamanism, indigenous culture, psychedelic science, spiritual practices, and tips for preparation and integration, among others.

- We invite you to co-create a community with us that fosters open dialogue and a safe platform for people to connect, learn, heal, and share their processes with each other. We at Soltara have found, through our experience, that so much of healing comes from being vulnerable, breaking down walls, letting people in, and holding space for others to do the same. When we authentically share stories, struggles, and ideas, we open up the space to figure things out on a deep level and remember that we are not alone.

The crucial first step to healing the world is healing ourselves, and there has never been a better time. The decisions we make on an individual, societal, and global scale over the next few years will determine the trajectory and course of our survival and our legacy. This is a mission and a movement that is bigger than all of us, but that includes us, and thus it is our humble hope to contribute in whatever way we can, and empower you to do the same.


We offer different room options and pricing to ensure that a high-quality healing experience is accessible for a variety of budgets. Every room includes all amenities and features listed below.

For those who prefer privacy and quiet, this luxurious and spacious suite features a king-size bed and accommodates a single guest of any gender. Also includes a free 1-hour massage with our licensed massage therapist.

For couples who prefer privacy, our couples room features a king-size bed and accommodates two guests of any gender. Also includes a free 1-hour massage for each guest with our licensed massage therapist.

For those seeking a more economical option, our shared dorm-style suite has 2 custom full-size bunk beds to accommodate up to 4 guests, along with a private bathroom, shower, and ocean-view balcony.

To facilitate your healing and peace of mind, all our accommodations feature extensive amenities, including:

An en-suite bathroom with a spacious private shower overlooking the surrounding jungle
A gorgeous outdoor balcony with comfortable seating area overlooking the jungle and the Gulf of Nicoya
A writing desk/creative space
Air-conditioning & ceiling fans
High-speed WiFi (although the WiFi is fast, we find the connection is even stronger without it 😉 )
Orthopedic beds & luxury linens
Beautiful handcrafted, locally-sourced decor & personal artisanal touches
Daily room service & linen changes throughout your stay
Clean, fresh towels changed regularly (additional towels available upon request)
Full laundry service

All of our accommodations also include all meals, medicinal plant ceremonies, yoga and breathwork classes, workshops, nature excursions, and transportation to and from the pickup location in San Jose.


  • Air Conditioning in Rooms
  • Free Wifi
  • Spa
  • Pool
  • Towels
  • Free Parking
  • Kitchen
  • Tour Assistance
  • Coffee/Tea
  • Cafe
  • Restaurant
  • Fitness Center
  • Yoga Studio
  • House-Keeping

Menu Types

  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
  • Pescetarian
  • Includes Meat
  • Organic
  • Gluten Free
  • Dairy Free
  • Nut Free


We believe healing even takes place in the kitchen. We take on the mantra by the Greek physician, Hippocrates: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” We honor the role of food in our lives and expand it beyond its primary purpose of bodily nourishment – food can be an avenue to dig deeper into ourselves, consciously looking at our patterns and mindsets surrounding not just what we eat, but how and why we eat what we do. Our eating habits don’t just affect our mental health, they also reflect it.

At Soltara, we aim to help you jumpstart this process of connection through conscious cooking on all levels. Diet is an important part of the healing process, both on its own and also to help prepare the mind and body for plant medicine work. We work closely with our shamans to prepare wholesome, delicious meals that adhere to the traditional dietary guidelines of working with ayahuasca. All of our meals are freshly prepared in-house by our loving kitchen staff. From fresh smoothies and juices every morning, to plant-based meals emphasizing local, organic, and sustainable produce, to lean proteins such a chicken and fish, we celebrate the rich local flavor of Costa Rican cuisine, and offer a chance to experience a connection to the land and culture while nourishing the body, mind, and spirit.


Please ensure you reserve your spot for your retreat with us prior to booking your flights. If you have any questions during the registration process or are concerned any health conditions (including bipolar, schizophrenia, or psychosis) may prevent you from attending a retreat, please contact us first.

We offer pickup on Day 1 (Sunday) of your retreat at 12 PM from the Hampton Inn and Suites, located about 15 minutes from the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO).

We recommend arriving the day before, on Saturday, and booking your stay at the Hampton Inn, in order to give you time to relax and settle in before beginning your journey to Soltara.

If you plan to arrive on Sunday, we recommend booking your flight to arrive by 9 AM that day, to allow time to get through customs (which can sometimes take up to 2 hours) and get to Hampton Inn in time for the 12 PM shuttle. You will arrive at Soltara around 4 pm that day, after an approximately 2 – 2.5 hour ride through the beautiful rolling hills of Costa Rica, and catching a 2:30 pm ferry ride across to Gulf of Nicoya. We are located about 10 minutes from the ferry port.

Our retreat packages end on Sundays. If you are returning to SJO, please book your departing flights after 3:30 PM. You will be returned to San Jose by 12:30 PM.

We look forward to supporting you in an immersive experience in nature, community, and medicine!

Thank you!

We're glad you've joined our retreat community. See you around :)

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Why Retreat?

We asked people why they go on retreat, here's what they said:

So that I am rejuvenated to be the best I can be in my relationships - personal, work and in Society - offering and giving to be of benefit to others! Laura

Retreat Guru's Vision

We believe human beings are innately wise, strong and kind. This wisdom, although not always experienced, is always present. Going on retreat is a beautiful way to reconnect to our basic sanity and health. Our aspiration at Retreat Guru is to inspire people to experience authentic retreats and reconnect with their innate wisdom, strength and kindness.

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