I wanted to post a warning to the interwebs about the deception peddled by the the Shaman Shop in Cusco, owned and operated by Shaman Kush, offering Ayahuasca ceremonies just outside Cusco.
While the Shaman Shop Cusco seems to have a good reputation online built up over many years I was not treated well by Kush. Here's my story:
After much research online I found many glowing reviews of the Shaman Shop Cusco and Shaman Kush himself. I decided to pay a visit and booked an Ayahuasca ceremony. I was told by Kush's wife (who works in the shop) to meet at the shop where I would be taken to Kush's property to participate in the ceremony with Kush. I was shown pictures of the man himself and the dedicated room he has built near his house to perform the Ayahuasca ceremonies.
I prepared by fasting for over a day and refrained from drinking water for more than 4 hours before I was expecting to drink the Ayahuasca with Kush.
On arriving at the Shaman Shop Cusco at 2 minutes to 6 I met with another man who claimed he would be my Shaman for the evening. This was not Kush. Things went downhill from there.
After a long wait in a broken down Land Rover I met Kush who would drive us up to the property. He seemed like a decent guy on first impressions. Unfortunately it seems that his once respected service is no longer to be respected.
On arriving at the property he informed me that this other guy would be my Shaman and asked if I had any questions. I said I'd done a lot of reading on Ayahuasca so I felt I had a good idea of what to expect. Kush left and the ceremony began.
After some brief, bad chanting I was poured a glass of brown liquid from a bottle on the shamans table.
I drank and we waited.
About 40 minutes later the Shaman began singing some more songs and playing his wind instrument poorly. I began to feel some effects and presumed the concoction was beginning to kick in. Unfortunately it went no further. The medicine was false. I'm sure it was not Ayahuasca - I felt a bit dizzy but little else. The shaman continued singing his tunes and playing with his rattles. One of the songs had lines that ended with "falso medicina" - or fake medicine.
The whole evening was a con job - taking advantage of an innocent tourist who made the mistake of admitting this would be my first time imbibing Ayahuasca. Easy prey for a business man geared towards profit and not spiritual healing or enlightenment.
It may be that the reputation of Kush and his Shaman Shop in Cusco used to be one of credibility - however time has clearly driven the old man into taking advantage of tourists who he think don't know any better. The cheek of the pseudo shaman - who did not drink the brew himself - to sing the "falso medicine" line really drives this home.
I don't recommend paying for Kush's services unless you can be sure that he will be giving you the real thing.
For me this experience was hugely disappointing - I was expecting to have a mind altering experience for long hours into the night. Instead, I spent the night in a freezing cold room with a stinking, fat, snoring peruvian man who had no intention of providing the service that I was sold. After another hour or so he began playing some really impressive jungle music on his cell phone and promptly fell asleep (after spending most of the evening yawning).
In short, The Shaman Shop in Cusco sells fake medicine to unsuspecting tourists. Avoid at all costs.
Shaman Shop Cusco