El Purguero is an Ayahuasca Camp situated 23 km from the jungle city of Iquitos, Peru. It is owned and operated by Ayahuasquero Ronald Joe Wheelock, affectionally known as The Gringo Shaman of the Amazon. Don Ron has been serving the community as an Ayahuasquero for over 25 years.
As his reputation as a strong healer and expert brewer-led Don Ron to buy land at km 23 Iquitos and build El Purguero. The camp has been opened since November 2012 and hosted its first private group of 30 people in December 2012. El Purguero is dedicated to healing. El Purguero serves the most mature ayahuasca, prepared and cooked by Don Ron. El Purguero’s ayahuasca is considered the purest and strongest in Iquitos and Don Ron provides his ayahuasca to many of the retreats in the area. The camp is set in the lush jungle with natural streams and an abundance of fruit and medicinal plants.
What if I have special needs?
Let us know before you book and we’ll tell you if we can accommodate them. The jungle presents special challenges of course (for example, for wheelchair users) but the intention of our Centre is to facilitate healing so we will do all that we can to assist if you have special needs.
Is the water safe to drink?
Purified and bottled water is used at our Centre so the water provided for drinking can be safely consumed.
Can you suggest a hotel in Lima or Iquitos?
There is a selection of hotels here which you may find helpful: http://www.peru-hotels.com/cities.htm with details of prices and online reservations. Lonely Planet and The Rough Guide to Peru also have information on hotels in both locations.
Can I take Ayahuasca if I am menstruating?
Yes. We do not see this as an issue; however, please let us know if you are menstruating as it may have an effect on your energy. Whether your period is due or not, however, it is advisable to bring sanitary wear with you.
What do I do about the medication I’m taking?
If you are taking medications you are advised to see your GP, physician or health advisor and explain the nature of this trip to him or her then listen to their recommendations.
Should I vaccinate?
This is a matter of personal choice. Some people prefer homeopathy and go for a consultation before they travel and bring a homeopathic travel kit with them. If you choose to vaccinate do so in good time and as far in advance of ayahuasca ceremonies as possible as some shamans do not like to give Ayahuasca to people in combination with chemical medicines. Some countries (such as Australia) may require you to vaccinate and to be able to prove your vaccination as a condition of re-entry. In cases like these ask your physician for a vaccination certificate and bring it with you just in case.
What about mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes are not a problem at our Centre but as we are in the jungle they cannot be ruled out and a mosquito net is provided over your bed just in case. The best natural defense is to take lots of Vitamin B12 beginning a few weeks before you travel. The richest natural source is goji berries. And, of course, consult your health advisor about precautions before you travel.
Is there a phone at the Centre?
No, and again this is a policy so you can concentrate on your journey without the lure of the outside world. Use of mobile phones is not prohibited but not especially encouraged. If you choose to make calls please do so well away from other participants.
Is there electricity at the Centre?
In general, no. A generator is available for the purpose of lights on the nights' ceremony is not performed. This policy ensures the Centre retains a traditional ambiance and remains close to nature, as native people and shamans have done for thousands of years and as the ayahuasca diet requires.
Where do we meet?
In most cases, we will meet you at Iquitos airport at 11 am on the first day of your programme. Let us know in advance if you have any problems making this time and place and we’ll try to accommodate them but please don’t be late!
Is it best to bring a backpack or a suitcase?
It’s up to you. The items you might need are listed in our Joining Instructions. Since most things are taken care of for you at our Centre this mainly amounts to appropriate clothing and normal holiday items.
Accommodations & Services
Lodging is provided in a communal bunkhouse or jungle huts that sleep one or two.
El Purguero accommodations include:
- Meals (fresh local produce and clean drinking water)
- A visit to the Bush Master Snake Research Center
- An Oje purge
- Plant Baths
Don Ron supports the community by employing local people and buying local produce. The camp is maintained by Don Alberto, his wife Isabela and their two daughters. Ceremonies are performed solely by Don Ron. Ron’s partner, Karina Maria Diaz Parades, has a small shop at the camp that provides local artisans a place to display their crafts.
Don Ron’s sole goal in establishing El Purguero was his desire to offer a safe, supportive environment in which to heal the physical, emotional or spiritual needs of its guests. El Purguero is a retreat devoted to learning and appreciating plant medicines and a place to experience the true nature of reality and explore all our potential to live a meaningful life.
About Iquitos, Peru
Iquitos is the largest city in the Peruvian rainforest and is known as the Ayahuasca capital of the world. Ayahuasca tourism is now a vital part of the Iquitos economy with Westerners seeking traditional shamanic experiences and healings using the visionary Amazonian medicine. Besides, bringing “spiritual tourism” to Iquitos, Ayahuasca is also being used in three new religions in Brazil. It has been credited with curing thousands of alcoholics and drug addicts and is being studied by pharmacologists around the world.
Iquitos is hot and humid (90 percent), year round. The population is very diverse: there were many periods of big wealth in Iquitos (mainly two with rubber and oil) that brought people from around the world and made it the most important fluvial port in the Peruvian Amazon. The city still has a lot of houses which were built during that age. ‘Iquiteños’ (or ‘Iquitinos’) are usually very friendly and like to party.
As a city not accessible by road, motorcycles, and motor cars dominate unlike anywhere else. Imagine if an American style biker-gang had taken over a city. This makes the city a bit more manic and loud. Other results include remarkably fluid (if chaotic) traffic, a preponderance of motorcycle ads and repair shops, and a sub-industry of people who agree to guard your motorcycle while you shop (even placing the cardboard on the seat to keep it cooler during the day).
Travelers should be aware that Iquitos is located in the region of Loreto, one of the poorest regions in Peru. Though there are remnants of houses from glory days past, it is easy to observe the poverty and struggles of many Iquiteños in everyday life. Unfortunately, the government’s solution has been to give the people economic incentives to use the rainforest for income without ecological supervision or constraint.
The region has long suffered a deeply entrenched illegal logging and wood laundering system which supplies raw material for several international corporations, including the most popular international manufacturer of compressed wood furniture.
Visitors to Iquitos should choose their activities, shopping and jungle trips carefully to avoid contributing to further destruction of this fragile region.