Being in the jungle, I enjoyed the purity of nature, living “back to basics” and listening to the sounds of nature for that week. Also, being “detoxed” from toxic food but also from technology and electricity and from company (when doing a detox, Tambo Ilusión accepts maximum 2 guests, including you!), eating remarkably healthy food and learning about its benefits, having one to one yoga lessons, Reiki sessions and meditation, swimming in the lagoon, receiving advice from Johanne and Armando (both being adventurers with a lot of courage and wisdom), and having them both focus 100% on your well-being and realizing they are selecting information, articles, stories, videos, music, meals, exercises, and advice just for you - all of that teaches you valuable lessons and will make a difference in your life.
As I have been in a “time of change” in my life at this point, of course, I was very receptive for the program and its side effects. I am not including my spiritual enlightenments in the blog for the public, nor my thoughts and lessons on how to change my life as in how to direct my career, have confidence, control my thoughts, be positive, be healthy, accept the past, or find my purpose in life. But for anybody who also happens to be in a crisis, I highly recommend a retreat such as this one. The Chinese character for crisis is composed of 2 sub-characters, by the way: One that spells danger and another that spells opportunity. Make the most of this opportunity!
Tambo Ilusión is not a 5-star “spa” retreat. It’s the opposite because it is so back-to-basics. Pure. But it is still luxury for me because it’s 100% personal, and with its secluded fresh water lagoon, it is priceless. It’s very, very reasonable (just think about all those daily personal trainings of yoga and meditation, two Reiki sessions and herbal baths, and all food including pricy superfoods) for what you get out of it as a long-term result.
Jungle surrounding the retreat. Image by Hannah Richter
A 1 hour 20 minutes' flight from Lima, and then a 20 minutes' tuk tuk drive from Tarapoto airport to the retreat center.
The origins of the property:
Armando bought the now beautiful and well-preserved property of 35 acres 30 years ago, and his strategy - his illusion - has been authentic ever since. He wants to conserve and teach people about nature, and to host people in his cozy, rustic tambos (wooden cabins) at the “core” of nature to present them the benefits of living in interaction and with respect for it.
Any guest will quickly witness and see how Armando has been a leader in the conversation and restoration movement of the Peruvian jungle. His dedication is amazing. It’s hard to imagine how he has built everything from scratch. What Armando and Johanne have established since they decided to turn this into a retreat center only a few years ago is more than impressive. They work so hard on making their dream come true, they don’t make compromises in the quality of the simplicity that they provide.
The cabins with roofs made of palm trees are simple, but clean, safe and waterproof, and the beds are super comfortable. The tambos have no electricity or glass windows (but they have screens, of course, to keep the bugs out). This way you hear the jungle’s concerts all day and night. You sleep under a mosquito net. Every cabin has its own hammock (being my very favorite place to spend hours and hours in). There is even a tambo, referred to as the reading room, just with hammocks!
Drawing in hammock. Image by Hannah Richter
Tambo main house. Image by Hannah Richter
There is electricity in the main house (which includes the kitchen and general dining area, but also the hosts’ bed and bathroom) for charging a device such as a kindle or laptop and the main house has a welcoming spirit to it, so you always feel okay joining Johanne and Armando there, talking to them or simply sitting down to read or watch for monkeys.
The property is safe. I felt safe even walking to the washroom (separate from tambo) in the middle of the night. However, be aware there is no wifi and hardly any mobile reception!
My program started right away because I could only stay 5 nights instead of 7. I was there September from 6 to 11, 2014, shorter than the retreat duration because my travel schedule didn’t allow a longer stay. However, I was aware that it is highly recommended to do the full 7 night program – (and I can see why!) as the first and last day did feel rather rushed through in my case. But more importantly, it takes a full 6 days to prepare the body to eat a diet high in alkaline-forming foods and low in fats to take the toxic pressure off your organs.
So, instead of starting with the formalities, we started with an enema 10 minutes after I got there. This simply describes their flexibility, but also their hands-on mentality and determination. But whatever happens: their focus is to make you feel comfortable. So don’t worry. They (take) care!
You have 3 balanced, very tasty, nutritious meals a day and usually one activity in the morning and one in the afternoon. There is still enough time for privacy and for hanging out in the hammock or at the lagoon, for reading and sleeping, for drawing mandalas or simply letting thoughts wander around.
Even though you are on a detox diet, you never feel starved. But you never feel full either. Of course, there are parts that require commitment, discipline and sometimes getting out of your comfort zone (for the enema, for example) or over your barrier of disgust (of drinking salt water or olive oil, for example), but it’s all very doable and never feels like torture. The positive experience always dominates (95% positive, I’d say). I didn’t even miss my morning coffee while I was there. So not everything you expect to be tough will be tough.
Detox smoothies. Image by Hannah Richter
The goal of the program is to detox your liver, which is the main filter of the body, thus getting rid of all the bad stuff in there. You will literarily see the bad stuff you eliminate by the end of the program, the liver’s so-called gallstones and it is a pretty crazy and impressive experience, or rather, accomplishment. It’s liberating and uplifting, too, with guaranteed positive side effects on your mood as well.
Preparing the detox drinks. Image by Hannah Richter
As a general rule, no more than 20 people are allowed on the property in order to conserve the nature and wildlife. When Johanne and Armando have guests for a detox program, they even limit their number of guests to a maximum of 2, so others will never distract you or confront you with food or meals you may not have during your detox program. And you will have your privacy for "bathroom" moments or emotional mood swings.
Hosts / privacy:
When spending time with the hosts, it’s always up to you how intense you want this time to be. I am sure they would respect it if somebody was not a big talker. But they sure are interested in you, and are interesting people to share stories with. They always make sure you feel comfortable; you are always asked how you feel and I highly advise always to tell the truth and details, because this way, they can integrate "help", if necessary, into their program, may it be a yoga position, natural “medicine” (some wild products might help against a cold or a rash, for example), or simply advice.
You mostly eat 3 delicious meals a day. The variety is amazing. Johanne is so creative. Not once did I experience a repetition throughout the program! It’s all so tasty and almost artistically prepared! Believe me - being on a detox diet does not feel like being on a diet or lacking for any good flavors. It’s all extraordinarily delicious (and sufficient)!
Delicious artistic meals. Image by Hannah Richter
Plus, I feel like I have a whole new "access" to and understanding for nutrition now, and what great effects it has on your body. You can ask for the recipe to every meal and, of course, the benefits of all the ingredients. I included some of those food facts in my blog. Johanne is very generous in sharing her knowledge that she had gained about raw food and superfoods over the years. She is also generous in providing rare spices and puts a lot of effort in selecting the best of Peru’s healing foods or also in imported products, if necessary.
Every day, you can sleep as long as you want. No alarm clock. Let nature and your own biorhythm lead you. I loved that part.
Tambo sleeping area. Image by Hannah Richter
Yoga and Reiki:
Yoga space. Image by Hannah Richter
Reiki session. Image by Hannah Richter
Johanne is a certified yoga instructor and Reiki master. For her yoga classes, it is held in such a beautiful room (wooden floor, with the shape, view, and sound - I can’t think of a more “zen” spot for yoga!). She adapts the level of “difficulty” to her students. In my case, she really started from scratch. She provides information about yoga in terms of historical, spiritual and physical “important-to-know” information, and she is very precise about the exercises, making sure every part of the body is where it is supposed to be and that you are breathing the abdominal breathing.
She starts every session with an Om and with a meditation, she provides meditation techniques / "tools", and sometimes even reads out a story, which is always selected with care and individual to you and your situation, as you will find out. Our yoga routine included mainly twists and stretches, gentle low- intensity practices to compress, relax and create space in the body for a deep detoxing experience. This is exactly the right intensity when doing a detox treatment. In the Reiki sessions, Johanne transfers the energy of the universe through her hands to you, empowering you to self-heal and find balance.
I was provided with great inspirational literature, which were a great support for my "therapy" in this program.
All in all:
I highly recommend going to Tambo Ilusión if you are a person who does not care much for “spa / wellness” in the modern sense. Go there if you care about nature and minimalism and purity, if you don’t mind some alone time, a basic lifestyle, real food and a focus on health. If you can stand the heat and the humidity (I was there in September, the hottest month of the year!), if you need to "get out" or are in a crisis, or have traveled Peru and need one last destination to calm down and relax, or work on a creative project like writing a book, I would highly recommend going there.
Sunny view. Image by Hannah Richter
If you are interested in finding out more about yourself, are ready for a detox experiment and in living without the so-called luxuries in life but with true luxury such as the quality of food (and mental food) and services Johanne and Armando provide, then you will benefit tremendously because it is so personalized.
I will be forever grateful. And I am sure I will remember that week for the rest of my life.
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