1. What are Visa and other entry requirements for Brazil?
- Vaccines to enter Brazil are not required unless you are coming from some South Americans countries like Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia or Colombia. In that case, only yellow fever vaccination is required.
- Travel health insurance is required – not for the intake of ayahuasca, but rather because you will be abroad, and for example, treating a sprained ankle (we go on jungle walks) can be very costly overseas.
- US, Australian and Canadian citizens will need to have a tourist visa prior to entry into Brazil. It is highly recommended that residents of these countries give at least 6 weeks time to arrange your visa prior to your intended date of travel, especially if you are applying by mail.
- Citizens of the UK and the European Union (excluding Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Slovak Republic) do not require a tourist visa and can stay in Brazil for up to 90 days. Google “fast Brazilian visas” for services.
- It is important to check the website of your nearest Brazilian consulate and read the visa conditions very carefully. You can find a list of Brazilian Consulates on the Internet.
2. I only speak English, is it difficult to travel in Brazil?
Brazil is an easy country for travelers, there are plenty of transport options and people are generally very friendly and helpful. English is not widely spoken however, and it is a good idea to get some lessons and bring a guide book if you intend to do any travelling in Brazil, outside the Spirit Vine retreat.
Many people have very positive experiences in their travels in Brazil, even when they don’t fully speak the language. If you intend to travel only to your retreat at Spirit Vine, there will be no issues, talk to us about arranging someone to meet you at the airport.
For those a bit more adventurous, learning some Portuguese can be an exciting and fun element that will open doors on your journey to Brazil. Portuguese is a beautiful language and spoken with a musical accent here in Brazil. There are many good programs that you can download and study, we recommend Rosetta Stone and Semantica. Lonely Planet also has a great phrase book that will fit in your hand luggage.
3. Are there any health concerns with ayahuasca use?
TheVine Center offers a supportive space in which to explore the worlds of Spirit but there are, of course, some precautions that need to be taken. There has never been however, any recorded evidence of physical or psychological damage caused by intake of ayahuasca. In the words of writer Terrence McKenna, “the only thing you’re likely to die of, is astonishment“.
Please be aware of the following precautions, and contact TheVine Centre if you have any further questions,
- Ayahuasca is not compatible with antidepressants/SSRIs drugs like Prozac and Zoloft, or other similar drugs that are MAOIs (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors). If you wish to take ayahuasca you must have stopped taking MAOIs and SSRIs at least 5-7 weeks before coming to the retreat. However, this must be done under your physician’s permission and supervision.
- Severe addictions such as drug addictions may need more intensive specialized support than what we can offer here at Spirit Vine, if you feel you may fall into this category please contact us and we will advise if our retreats are suitable for you, or make recommendations for a more appropriate retreat.
- Those who may have a history of mental health issues, it is also very important you let us know, as ayahuasca may not be advisable. please contact us for more information.
- Health insurance is highly recommended – not for the intake of the brew, but rather because you will be abroad, and treating a sprained ankle (we go on jungle walks) can be very costly overseas.
Please bring anti-histamine creams (like Benedryl or oral form) in case you have allergic reactions to insect bites.
Read about Preparation for ayahuasca
4. Is it safe to travel in Brazil?
Brazil is a fantastic tourist destination, despite having received a lot of bad press. Over the last 10 years poverty levels have declined sharply and there is more employment and opportunities for locals. Brazil is a modern, developing country with all the usual facilities for travel safety you would expect anywhere.
The region of Brazil on the coast of Bahia where The Vine Centre is located, is a notably safe place to travel, there are greater risks in the big cities. While the dangers have undoubtedly been sensationalized by the media, some tourists do get robbed while in Brazil, so it makes sense to minimize the risks of becoming a victim.
Take careful note of the following suggestions:
- Do not count your money in front of everybody when you take fresh cash out of the ATM, keep small change handy so you don’t have to get out your wallet on buses for example. Most banks have a facility to use ATMs inside of buildings.
- After dark, don’t walk along empty or nearly empty streets or into deserted parks or darkened areas.
- Don’t wander into the favelas (shantytowns) unless you’re with a trustworthy guide who really knows the area.
- Leave your passport in the hotel and just take a copy when you go out (police do accept copies).
In our opinion it is no more dangerous here in Brazil than many big European or US cities such as New York, San Francisco, LA, London, Paris, Brussels,
5. How do I get to The Vine Centre?
The easiest way is to get to the Vine Centre is to fly into Ilheus airport. The Vine Centre is 60km north along the coast from Ilheus and is a 1 hour drive directly from the airport. You can easily get flights to Ilheus from major Brazilian cities. Four airlines fly into Ilheus – TAM, GOL, Azul, and Avianca Brasil. All can be booked online. Talk to us about arranging someone to meet you at the airport.
It is very important to note that you need to collect your bags at the first point of entry in Brazil. Even if your ticket is booked onward to another destination, your bags will be offloaded and you have to check-in again at the first port of entry in Brazil. Also note that there are two different airports in Sao Paulo – Congonhas and Guarulhos – which are one hour apart by taxi or bus.
Some people also like to arrive via Salvador in Bahia, a bustling city thriving with culture and the old capital of Brazil. TheVine Centre is around 6 hours from Salvador by road and ferry. It is relatively easy to get a ferry and bus from Salvador or you can fly to Ilheus (40 minutes). From Salvador by road you must cross the Bay of All Saints via the Ferry Boat, which then connects with buses direct to Itacaré. When you arrive on the Ferry Boat, you can book directly with the bus companies Aguia Branca and Cidade Sol.
From the US and Canada
TAM, Copa, United Airlines and many others fly to various destinations in Brazil from the USA. If you are only able to find flights to São Paolo or Rio de Janeiro, you will need to purchase a domestic flight from one of the Brazilian domestic airlines. Kayak is a good website to purchase internal flights, as it may be difficult for foreigners to book directly with domestic airlines.
From Australia and New Zealand
There are no direct flights from Australia or New Zealand straight to Brazil, you will most probably need to fly via Santiago, Chile or possible Buenos Aires, Argentina, with an additional connecting flight in either Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo. LAN, Qantas and Aerolineas Argentinas are the best options from Australia and you can often get a connecting flight included in your fare. You will also need to purchase a domestic flight from one of the Brazilian domestic airlines. Kayak is a good website to purchase internal flights, as it may be difficult for foreigners to book directly with domestic airline.
6. What about exchanging money?
While you’re here, the current exchange rate makes it pretty inexpensive for foreigners to visit Brazil. For latest exchange rates please visit www.xe.com
You will need some Brazilian currency (reais) on hand when you arrive.
ATM’s may or may not work. Some ATM cards can be used but only in large cities, and the limit amount per day is between R$800 Reais to R$1000 (Brazilian currency) per day. So bring enough cash (US or EU) just in case.
The exchange rate when using your Visa or MasterCard credit card is very good. Credit cards are not accepted in many places, especially MasterCard. Therefore Visa is much better in that regard.
Do not change money at a US airport – the rate is terrible! Again, change only the money you might need for a day at the first Brazilian airport where you land.
Travelers’ checks, such as American Express, are sometimes changed at a lower rate than cash. But they are not accepted locally!
Bring enough cash but don’t walk around with it. Our retreat center, as do most hotels, have small safes for security.
7. What do you recommend to bring to the retreat?
Consider that you will be in the tropics and it is likely to be humid and hot and often quite sunny. Many people who live in colder climates under-estimate the intensity of tropical sun, and while enjoying soaking up the rays can get easily sunburned, so it is recommended to bring good quality sunscreen, hats and comfortable summer clothes. Tropical areas such us Bahia also have a lot of rain and this can happen quite suddenly so be prepared and have a rain coat or water proof jacket.
Note that all the bungalows have mosquito nets over the beds however out and about you may encounter mosquitoes so be prepared and bring a good natural repelant.
- a writing journal
- art supplies such as paints, crayons or pencils and paper
- 1 pair long pants
- 2 pairs of shorts
- 2 long sleeve t-shirts
- several short sleeves t-shirts
- flashlight with spare batteries
- sandals / flip-flops (thongs)
- beach towel(s)
- sweater for the occasional cold night
- rain poncho or jacket
- mosquito repellent spray
- anti-histamine creams (like Benedryl or oral form) in case you have allergic reactions to insect bites
- sunscreen and after sun lotion
- antiseptic cream
- plug adapter (round 2-pin. Electricity in Brazil is 110v.)
- a pair of good quality headphones or ear bud phones (required for some activities)
- white clothes for the ceremonies
- Brazilian money to pay the massages or tips
- a tablet or laptop because we have Wi Fi in the restaurant area
8. Do you have any travel tips for arriving in Brazil?
People may come up to you and offer you Taxis in the airport, the price may be good, but it is recommended to use the licensed taxis, you will find they have a stall at the exit of the airport. It is worth noting in most airports there are very cheap airport transfer buses that run very regularly. If you are arriving for your first trip to Brazil, it is a good idea to get to your hotel as safely and promptly as possible and from there you can find your bearings and plan your activities.
If you are at all worried about arriving in Brazil, please contact TheVine Centre and we can organize trusted transport to pick you up directly from Ilheus airport and bring you straight to the retreat centre. Which ever way you decide to travel, we recommend you let us know your itinerary and keep us informed of any issues that might arise such as delayed flights.
Brazil is generally a safe and easy place to travel, however it is wise to be conscious of keeping yourself safe and we recommend following our tips as listed in the above question on safety (n.4).
The transport infrastructure in Brazil is good with an extensive network of flights and multiple local airlines able to get you to where you need to go. Sometimes information at airports can be a little confusing so always make sure you ask more than one person for information to make sure you are at the right gate for example. Travelling by bus in Brazil can be quite pleasant and most major destinations have modern, clean and very comfortable buses that run regularly as this is a very popular form of transport between cities in Brazil. The best way to book these bus trips is from travel agents in Brazil or directly from the bus station (called Rodoviaria in Brazil).
Brazil is a country rich with diversity and beautiful culture and landscapes in numerous locations across the country. Rio de Janeiro city is very popular for its beaches, history, natural beauty and thriving culture including a vibrant night life. Ipanema, Leblon and Copacabana are great places to stay if you want to be close to the beaches and shopping. São Paulo is a huge metropolis and one of the largest cities in the world and has a 24/7 energy similar to New York. São Paulo city is full of cultural attractions and nightlife including many museums, theatres, restaurants, shopping and beautiful parks.
February or early March is the time of Carnival and Rio or Salvador is the ultimate destination to experience this world renowned cultural event
The south of Brazil has a more European feel to it, with a temperate warm climate and beautiful cities like Florianopolis, Porto Alegre and Curitiba as well as stunning natural landscape such as the Iguassu Falls. The Centre of Brazil is rich with diverse ecosystems and you can go on safaris through the swamps of the Pantanal or trek through the ancient landscapes of the Cerrado such as in the Chapada dos Veadeiros. in this region you may see an abundance of wildlife from Wolves to Jaguars, Macaws and Toucans, Deer, Capibaras, Emas, and the list goes on.
The North East of Brazil is the place where the Afro-Brazilian culture is strongest, and where TheVine Centre is located in the state of Bahia. This region is naturally diverse with the Mata-Atlantic Forest and stunning beaches in the east of Bahia, to arid desert and Mountains such us the Chapada Diamantina with its Majestic land formations and expansive views and high waterfalls on the west. Everywhere you go here you will feel the energy of the people and their relaxed way of life.
Venturing into the Amazon can be one of the most mysterious and exciting adventures of a lifetime. The Amazon basin is huge and most of it exists within Brazil. You can reach the Amazon through several states in Brazil, but beware there is not a very well developed tourist infrastructure, or none at all in most parts. The richness of the natural environment in this, the worlds largest forest is beyond imagination and is really one of the last great frontiers of human discovery on earth. You will need to check with local authorities about any health and other regulations for visiting many places in this region, however for organized tours, Manaus in the state of Amazonas and Belem in Pára are the best places to start.
For those looking for a spiritual journey, Brazil is also a country rich with opportunities. There are many forms of religion and spirituality in Brazil ranging from African traditions, to ayahuasca churches, indigenous tribal cultures, UFO cults, miracle healers such as John of God, New age centres such as Alto Paraiso de Goias and a huge amount of opportunities to experience and learn about yoga, meditation, crystal healing, mediumship, capoeira, Brazilian jujitsu, chanting, ecological communities, permaculture and bio construction.
9. Do you offer only ceremonies or shorter retreats?
No, we only offer complete 8 day or 9 day ayahuasca retreats. We have an article on why we believe a person should dedicate at least 8 days for a retreat instead of going to a 3 or 5 day ayahuasca retreat. For those who cannot afford to pay for an 8 day retreat, we also have a program offering free ayahuasca retreats to two people every month.
Video Faqs about Ayahuasca Retreat