Psychedelic Travel Experiences Are More Popular Than Ever

The experience: Usually offered in small communities as a self-reflective, introspective modality of healing, traditional psilocybin ceremonies in Mexico begin with a temazcal, or sweat lodge ceremony dating back to Mesoamerican civilizations. Participants are then guided to an outdoor area, usually positioned around a fire pit, to eat the psychedelic mushrooms in their raw form. The mode of consumption varies around the world; for example, during ceremonies with Beckley Retreats in Jamaica, psilocybin is consumed through ginger-lemon tea. Facilitators play live music throughout the experience, which usually lasts around six hours.

Also in Jamaica is MycoMeditations, where all prospective guests undergo a thorough medical screening to ensure they are a good fit for a psilocybin retreat. Other companies leading the field are the Jamaican-owned ONE Retreats by Rose Hill, the largest natural psilocybin producer and the first legal exporter for both researchers and retreat centers, and MycoMeditations, a facility that administers a three-dose protocol in a retreat setting over a one-week period.

Peyote or San Pedro (Mescaline)

Traditionally consumed in religious ceremonies by Indigenous communities throughout the desert plains of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States, peyote is a circular cactus that contains the hallucinogen alkaloid mescaline. It is the sacramental medicine of the Native American Church, and was relegalized under federal law in 1994 as an amendment to the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978. The top of the cactus contains buttons, which are consumed fresh or dried, are often smoked like tobacco or made into a powder that can be consumed as tea. The San Pedro cactus, which has been used for thousands of years by Andean communities in northern Peru, also contains mescaline and can be consumed for similar medicinal purposes.

The experience: Considered the most gentle of the plant medicine experiences, peyote elicits visual effects in a softer, less confronting manner than ayahuasca and psilocybin. Ceremonies tend to follow similar protocols as ayahuasca and psilocybin and are often done outside, in nature, and around a fire. Participants undergo a set of cleansing rites before they begin their journey with peyote, and are usually given around three opportunities to consume more if desired. Though most Peyote ceremonies occur within closed community groups, there are a few retreat experiences available with the Wixarika community. During a 10-day pilgrimage, participants are invited into the sacred land of the Wixarika people (or Huichol), in the Wirikuta Desert of northern Mexico, where they participate in collecting the medicine and preparing it for use before the ceremonial rites begin.

Psychedelic Travel Experiences Are More Popular Than Ever

Tandava Retreats outside Mexico City is known for its four-night bufo retreats with daily breath work and meditation offerings.

Tandava Retreat

Bufo (5-meO-DMT)

Deriving from the parotoid glands of the Sonoran Desert toad—also known as the Bufo Alvarius toad or the Colorado River toad—the compound 5-MeO-DMT, also known as bufo, is a potent psychedelic. While many practitioners believe it’s best to take the secretion directly from the toads, this practice can harm the amphibian, often resulting in its death. That, combined with the fact that drug cartels have been linked to both illegal and unethical harvesting of the toad for the substance, has led to the re-popularization of synthetic bufo, a safer, more ethical alternative that allows practitioners to properly measure dosages.

The experience: Widely regarded as the most powerful psychedelic in the world, the 5-MeO-DMT experience is singular in its effects. It is not known to elicit visuals as other psychedelics like psilocybin, ayahuasca, or peyote do. Instead, bufo, often called the God Molecule, is known for an effect of complete dissolution, also known as ineffability, where the participant forgets they are a human, or even have a human body or consciousness. Participants often leave with feelings of a deep interconnectedness between themselves and the universe—as if everything is nothing, and nothing is everything.

About an hour outside of Mexico City, in the mystical mountain town of Tepoztlán, Tandava Retreats, helmed by CEO and Founder Joel Brierre and Head of Education Victoria Wueschner, leads groups or individual clients on four-night bufo experiences. Daily breathwork, meditation, and yoga are held in addition to two privately facilitated ceremonies. Each participant can also take advantage of included post-retreat sessions with an integration specialist to further dive into their medicine experience and decipher what it could mean.