How the journey develops
Before the journey
At the moment of reservation, you will be asked to write a brief autobiography and to provide your birthdate and birth time. With this, Amauta will elaborate your cosmological and astrological profile which will give him the necessary information to introduce each person to their “cosmological and astrological body”, and will help him identify the destiny and cosmic mission of each individual, his obstacles, spiritual weapons, strengths and weaknesses; information necessary to be able to participate plentifully in the ceremonies and initiations throughout the journey.
Day 1. Arrival to La Paz. As if the sudden altitude change from the airport at Lima, Peru -located at sea level- to the airport of La Paz at El Alto -located at 13,385 feet- wasn’t enough, the normal arrival time to the highland plateau is at four in the morning. Not a welcoming arrival whatsoever, the only thing that can be appreciated outside is the below freezing temperature. Luckily, the airport has heating. There you will be greeted by Amauta and his assistant with an alleviating coca leaf infusion, the perfect remedy for altitude sickness. Locally called “sorojchi”, it will probably take a couple hours to settle in, normally giving you a strong headache which should disappear within the next day. A taxi will take us immediately to the hotel where you will rest until a late breakfast time, around ten in the morning. Afterwards, to continue resting and adapting is recommended. For those who feel strong and wish to begin exploration they may do so by their own means or if they wish Amauta can take them to a special place of interest. Lunch and dinner will be served at everyone’s convenience, either in a restaurant, or if they prefer, in their rooms.
Day 2. La Paz, Adaptation. This day many will still feel tired, so walks will be kept to a minimum and there will be long resting periods, especially after meals. In the morning we’ll go visit a museum that can either be the Tiwanaku museum, the Andean textile museum, the ethnography museum or the coca museum. In the evening we will go shopping for the articles necessary for the ceremonies at the so called “street of the witches”. Here, different female vendors sell an impressive variety of articles used to do offerings and rituals. The goods range from incense, seeds and plants, to amulets, Brazilian potions, animal skins and bird feathers. Their stores are very impressive and worthy of seeing and understanding.
Day 3. Journey to Tiwanaku, first circle of power. This day people will be feeling better and stronger. We will have breakfast early in the morning and our private transportation will take us to this millenary archaeological site. On the way we will stop to contemplate the landscape of the highlands. Llamas, snowcapped mountains and adobe villages compliment the colorful clothing of the Aymara Natives. Once in Tiwanaku, Amauta will introduce us to the mysteries and truths about this ancient place of power. With a simple ceremony, he will teach us to chew coca leafs with which we will become more alert, awake and connected to listen to the hidden story of the origin of the universe and of mankind. Later, we will do a meditation where each one of us will receive a piece of the puzzle to complete this complex story.
This day we will have a typical Andean dish for lunch that hasn’t changed since the days that Tiwanaku was inhabited. Called “wallak’e”, the dish is prepared with a fish called “carachi” which is endemic to Titicaca Lake and has existed for millions of years. Fossils found near the lake prove that this is a living fossil, the ideal food to nourish our newly received information about the origins of mankind.
Back in La Paz, if the group wishes, we can visit the emblematic bar “boca y sapo”. It is by far the best place to listen to Bolivian folk music and share alongside Bolivian celebrities, musicians and artists. The first round of drinks is included in the program. If the group prefers not to do this activity this night, it can be left for another day.
Day 4. Hike to the valley of souls. Second circle of power. Last night’s visit to the bar is optional since this day we have to get up early to do this important activity. After breakfast, our transportation will take us to the last suburbs of the city. The last houses begin to blend with a surreal Andean landscape. A series of spectacular geological formations are given the name of the “valley of the souls”, where we will begin our long hike.
Viscachas (a peculiar animal of the Andes that looks like a mix of a mouse and a rabbit) and giant rabbits may surprise us as we approach their hideouts. On the banks of the river, pieces of amethyst quartz will serve as a perfect power souvenir. The stone valley carved by erosion loses depth as we climb higher and becomes a pastureland for llamas. If we are lucky, we may get close to these docile animals. If the night before it snowed, it’s from here that we may encounter remaining snow fields. We continue climbing until we reach a smooth and flat Highland. Here the soft undulating hills give a yellow foreground to the impressive snowcapped peaks that only from here are visible. At 14,763 feet above sea level, we will do a ceremony, again with the help of the sacred coca leaf. In this circle of power, Amauta will introduce each one in the group to their cosmological body. A new Andean name will be chosen with which you will be baptized later on the journey with an Andean shaman. We will make a small offering, prayer and meditation to the spirits of the mountains. If we are well responded, we may see a condor flying. If we don’t, it means that it will be waiting in another place in the Andes. This day an abundant lunch will be served on the hike. Once finishing the ceremony, the walk back takes half the time and effort.
It wouldn’t seem like a couple of miles from such inhospitable and spectacular mountain landscapes we would find a city of a million and a half inhabitants. Near the end of the descent, the first houses are a reminder of the capacity to adapt to extreme conditions that the native Andeans have inherited from their birth land. Here our transport will then take us to dinner to the house of Don Miguel Gruiddozz. Gem engineer, anthropologist, goldsmith, artist, miner, project designer and tireless explorer of the most remote corners in South America are some of the attributes that make this man an enriching person to share with and give a majestic finale to our long day.
Day 5. Journey to the sacred lake. The travel time to our first destination in the lake, Copacabana, is three hours long. We will have to get off the van and cross on a boat the three hundred feet long Tiquiña narrow, a mysteriously artificial ditch that joins what are in reality two separate lakes. After this, infinite cultivation terraces evidence the existence of a greatly larger number of inhabitants that once populated this region. Copacabana is the sanctuary of the Virgen del Lago, a figure of similar importance to the Virgen de Guadalupe in Mexico. This place is full of magic and mysticism. We will have lunch and spend the rest of the day visiting the intriguing power places around this small but ancient town. At night we will watch a recent quality produced movie filmed here.
Day 6. Journey to Isla del Sol. Fountain of youth. A few blocks from the hotel, after breakfast, there will be a boat waiting for us to take us touring around the lake. Instead of returning to Copacabana, the boat will drop us off at the Isla del Sol. The island bursts from the water abruptly like a mountain sitting at the bottom of the lake of which only the top sticks out of the water. A bay there serves as a port. Once on land we approach the so called “Inca ladders”, a stone stairway that sums one thousand stairs in total. Alongside them, a channeled mountain stream leads to a fountain at the bottom of the stairways. Still functional, this Inca built fountain separates the main brook into three streams. Drinking and washing with this water is known to have revitalizing effects. After this life changing refreshment we have to climb the ladders and beyond to reach the mountain top. It is here where the town of Yumani lies, and where our hotel for the next three days will be. A breathtaking view of the cobalt blue lake topped with the bright white reflection of the Illampu and Ancohuma mountain peaks will be our everyday entourage for the next couple of days.
Day 7. Experiencing Native Aymara Lifestyle. Vision quest ceremony with Achuma. Sleeping, eating and waking up here is to literally do it on top of a mountain. Spending long periods of time contemplating the views is necessary. Breakfast will have us ready to make a long hike to the village of Challapampa, on the other side of the island. There we will share with a native Aymara family. We will do their everyday chores which depending on the season can be fishing on the lake, sowing potatoes or doing other agricultural activities. We will eat with them their organically produced food inside their adobe homes. On the evening we’ll go visit the chinkana archeological site or labyrinth. Then we will make a fire onside the “sacred rock” where we will be joined by an Aymara Achuma specialist. Achuma is an Andean cactus that serves as a vision plant. The ceremony will last all night long. For those who wish to return to the hotel, it’s possible at any time.
Day 8. Rest, meditation and contemplation on the island of the sun. Last night’s ceremony will have produced profound changes in every individual. Taking a day to meditate, rest and contemplate is a luxury that on this journey we may have, and for which this day is designated.
Day 9. Return to La Paz. Making our way back will result more difficult emotionally due to the sadness of leaving such beautiful place, than physically. Everything is downhill from here. We hop on the boat back to Copacabana, have lunch there and continue back to La Paz. A dinner banquet will be waiting for the group at Amauta’s family’s house, where we’ll share our experiences and listen to marvelous stories from the exotic Bolivian lands.
Day 10. Personal Appointments with Kayawalla shaman and healer. Back in the city, this day will offer us rest and free time. Each person in the group will have a personal appointment with the Kayawalla healer Mario at some time during the day. He can diagnose physical as well as spiritual illnesses with the help of coca leaf readings. Any ailment must be reported to him so that he can prescribe a treatment that will be applied the following days we visit his community. The only moments the group will gather as a whole will be to have breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is a good day to do shopping; Amauta can help you spot authentic Andean musical instruments, alpaca wool clothing, fabrics, crafts, etc.
Days 11-15. Healing in the community of Curva, Apolobamba Mountains. Along with the sun we rise from the La Paz basin towards Titicaca Lake. Instead of deviating to Copacabana, we continue bordering the lake until the highway bends north and begins climbing the mountains. Here we enter the Apolobamba reserve, the refuge with the largest population of wild vicuñas in the world. Thanks to our private transportation we can stop, get off and try to approach these symbolic animals. An isolated town ahead will serve as a stopping point to have lunch. The town is located at an altitude of 15,000 feet above sea level, and this is perceptible in the air, in the streets, and the clear faces of its inhabitants. It’s the highest point on the way; from here descent begins and soon becomes a steep and infinite canyon that unfolds in front of our eyes. One hour before arriving, we can see the town of Charazani from Above.
The enigmatic stone streets adorned with old houses merit a brief stop at this town famous for its beautiful women. A few minutes past it, we will stop at a natural hot spring to bathe. Once soothed we continue to what becomes an eminently dangerous road, which shall put a little spice of danger and adrenaline to our adventure. Tension will find a sublime flight when we encounter small villages of the most picturesque lavishness imaginable. In places where the mountain color is purple, the handful of houses below it are built with the same rock and thus have the same color; and are crowned with straw roofs and flushing flower gardens. Further ahead the mountain turns yellow, red, and black, and so do the villages. This is one of the places where reality exceeds fiction
Finally we arrive to Curva, Mario’s Village. Here a small lagoon serves as a rest stop for migrating ducks and geese. Close to the water, a handful of houses of stone and adobe blend in with the ochre color of the mountain. This will be our home for the next four days. Mario’s home patio is large enough that we can comfortably fit in with all of our tents. The typical Andean kitchen of Mario’s wife is located at a seemingly destroyed adobe hut. Here the playful guinea pigs make their nests below the fireplace, and eat the organic waste produced by the kitchen, when it’s not them that are being cooked. From one side of the patio, we can see the tip of the sacred snowcapped Akamani Mountain.
The activities we will do the following days will accommodate to the weather and the organization that Mario decides. Some ailments require complex medicinal treatments that Mario will carry out within these days. An Andean baptism is foreseen for everyone, where we will be dispossessed of any bad luck and energy we may carry with us, and will be given the Andean name chosen on the first circle of power. A meditative trek will be an exciting activity where we will visit the sacred places of the mountains and enjoy the breathtaking scenery and landscape. An opulent offering to the spirits of the mountains will be done, and we will participate in everyday activities of the Kayawallas to receive their wisdom about mother earth and the forces of the universe. To see a condor flying will be obligatory in order to receive a full blessing, and the everyday awing view of the immense canyon that stretches infinitely downwards is something that you probably have never experienced before. Five days and four nights will barely be enough to leave us with the sensation of having lived here, and those days will count as many more thanks to the wisdom taught to us by the Kayawallas. Once we leave, we will be dispossessed of all bad luck we may have had in the past, with a new name, a new body, a new spirit and an unrepeatable memory.
Day 16. Journey to the Amazon. Sunrise tinges of colors the white robes of the Andes Mountains visible from the airport. A small goodbye prayer will be helpful to leave them without feeling sad. It is recommended to wear your hot weather clothing below your thick coats. A half an hour flight changes our scenery from cold brown to warm green. The sudden change of altitude and temperature is evidence of the drastic geographical change. Before arriving to the hotel’s pool, we’re already soaked in sweat. The oxygen rich and steamy air makes us feel as if we’ve regained life. The infinite sounds of millions of creatures and insects compliment that feeling. We designate all day to adapting, resting, contemplating and bathing in the pool. In the evening we take a short hike to a Mountain View point that shows us where we are: the meeting of the amazon plains and the first Andean foothills
Day 17. Zip-line canopy tour. In the morning a boat will be on the river to take us to the nearby mountains. Twenty minutes later we begin a short half an hour hike through the jungle and up the mountains. A specialized guide will show us how to operate our harnesses, brakes and zip line equipment. Once instructed, we approach the first platform from where we begin our exciting tour. This activity is part of the shamanic therapies planned by Amauta to teach us to overcome fear. Speeds of up to 70 kilometers per hour at altitudes of over seventy meters above the ground give us good adrenaline rush. This is one of the best zip line canopy tours in the world, with nine tree platforms and one and a half kilometers of steel wire that take a half a day to cover. The evening activity for that day will be a pleasant surprise.
Days 18-21 Expedition to Candelaria Madidi, The new Paitití. It is time to say goodbye to civilization again. We travel by land a whole day to where all roads end. We continue on foot. A team of native Tacana guides make us safe and comfortable. A female cook lets us feel at home with incredible meals that include cakes. We’re out to explore the most bio diverse and largest preserved forest in the world. Here jaguar sightings are an everyday thing. It’s the last corridor between the amazon plains and the Andean foot hills that lacks human presence.
This place has presented itself to Amauta as the site where a future eco village, healing and teaching center will be built. He calls it “the new Paitití”. A group of ecologists had already chosen this place and decreed it a private reserve that joins with the one million eight hundred thousand hectare Madidi National Park. Madidi is part of a series of parks and reserves in Bolivia and Peru that together sum more than four million hectares. But that’s nothing; the protected areas are only a small portion of the huge section of mostly unexploited rainforest that still remains in the region. The Paititi eco-village project has been envisioned to help protect the reserved area adding another thirty five thousand hectares to the most critically endangered part of the Madidi Reserve.
The trip here will serve as reconnaissance expedition and the participants as initiates to carry out the ceremony necessary to seed what in the near future will be the new Paitití eco village, new era school and healing center
Day 22. Rest day in Rurrenabaque. Pictures of encounters with animals that possibly haven’t been identified by science will not be the only memories of this brief expedition. It will also be insect bites, blisters, fatigue and maybe a small wound. To heal and attend these issues is the purpose of this day, where the longest hike will be to the ice cream shop. The comfort of the hotel and excellent restaurant meals will replenish our energy for the last days of the journey.
Days 23-27 Shamanic transformation workshop in Madidi National Park. From the river a boat will take us to our following destination. This time the trip lasts three hours. We arrive to an indigenous community where only eight families live surrounded by the endless rainforest of Madidi National Park. Torewa is the perfect place to find balance between commodity and nature. Due to the reduced amount of people living there, the rainforest around is very well preserved and many animals still linger very close to the community. Recently a lodge has been built to receive tourists and we will be the first ones to use it.
Our diet becomes more and more specialized on fish to prepare for our final Ayahuasca ceremony. In this place we begin our shamanic transformation workshop. The purpose of doing it here is that an unpolluted natural environment makes it much more effective. Here there are no roads, no electricity, no cell phone reception, no noises and no pollution. Going fishing, cutting firewood and bathing in the river are everyday things. Friendship becomes more intimate and in the evenings sharing together around the fire becomes essential. The shamanic exercises blend in with the activities that nature demands. To develop briefly the feeling of living in nature is one of the many purposes of this trip. On the climax of our stay, an Ayahuasca shaman will visit us to guide us through the vision ceremony, which will extend as long as necessary.
Day 28. End of the journey. We say goodbye to the amazon and take our flight back to La Paz and from there to everyone’s home. Those who wish can stay longer by their means. The bonds created during the journey will find their way into future projects that all of the initiates will share. This day everyone will discover that it’s not the end of the shamanic journey, but merely the beginning.