Most tourists who visit Peru’s Sacred Valley will whip around its famed capital, Cusco, then beeline it for iconic Incan ruin, Machu Picchu. Both are wondrous sights and tourists looking for photographs and souvenirs will return home satisfied. But for seekers rather than sightseers, the Sacred Valley also offers ayahuasca: a potent, hallucinogenic, shamanic healing medicine.
My experience begins a month before Peru while visiting a friend in California. At a dinner party I mention I’m interested in shamanic healing. A guest says he’s just returned from an ayahuasca retreat in Iquitos in Peru’s Amazon jungle. Humid and buggy, Iquitos is the centre of Peru’s ‘psychedelic tourism’ boom but he warns me Iquitos is intense for first-timers.
“Go to the Sacred Valley. It’s gentler there.”