Ayahuasca, also known as yagé, is a traditional spiritual medicine used by many of the indigenous peoples of the Amazonian regions of South America. It is a powerful entheogenic brew and has caught on as a popular experience among travellers in recent years, due to its reputation for giving people powerful insights into themselves, and supposedly its ability to offer life-changing experiences. Ayahuasca tourism is a somewhat controversial new addition to Colombia’s tourism portfolio, so should you take ayahuasca when travelling to Colombia? The simple answer to that question is: it’s entirely up to you. Ayahuasca is not illegal in Colombia and it really is entirely up to the individual and how comfortable they are with taking the substance. While some people wrongly call ayahuasca a drug, it is not classified as such and its effects are generally classed as more spiritual than recreational. All this being said, there are many things to be aware of if you are planning to take ayahuasca on a trip to Colombia.
It is essential to remember that this substance is not a recreational drug and therefore, should not be taken recreationally, and should only be administered under the guidance of someone with knowledge of the substance, ideally a shaman or experienced user of ayahuasca. It is not a substance to be messed around with, as it contains a powerful mixture of different chemicals, including DMT. In 2014, a young British traveller died in the Colombian jungle region of Putumayo after taking ayahuasca for the second time, proving that this is not something to be played around with!
As with many different types of tourism, ayahuasca tourism carries its own specific risk, namely that it will be taken over by opportunistic vendors, keen to cash in on the trend and undercut their competition. These people may have no true knowledge of ayahuasca, and taking the substance with them could mean putting yourself at needless risk. Always read up on the person or persons offering you the experience, and go with local recommendations. There are also reputable ayahuasca retreats where participants also engage in spiritual exercises and specific diets.
Diet is another thing to consider if you are planning to take ayahuasca on a visit to Colombia. It is not recommended to consume certain foods and drinks in the days leading up to taking ayahuasca. This list includes red meat, dairy, fatty foods, and alcohol. You are also advised to abstain from sex in the weeks beforehand. While retreats will advertise this diet, many people go into an ayahuasca experience too casually and have a bad time based on their failure to follow the correct diet.
One final element of an ayahuasca experience to consider is expectation management. Many people, after reading about the life-changing and transcendent impact ayahuasca has had on some people’s lives, end up feeling disappointed when their experience is nothing more than normal, or even slightly unpleasant (vomiting and diarrhea are common elements of an ayahuasca “trip”). The first time you take ayahuasca is unlikely to change your life, so be aware of that before entering a unique and personal situation.
The ultimate answer to the question “should I take ayahuasca when travelling in Colombia?” is an entirely personal one. However, it is advisable to only do so if you are properly prepared, doing so with a reputable and well-known professional, are fully aware of the implications of taking it, and have followed the correct diet. Otherwise, consider avoiding ayahuasca and spending your money on something else.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.