We all travel with the intention of exploration in mind, but it's up to each traveler to do so in their own way. Some people travel to see the creations of mankind, some to see the creations of nature, and some to experience mind-altering substances that are part of the local culture.
Is Mind-Altering Tourism On The Rise?
Eager to learn about all things travel, we decided to put together a short guide to some of these substances. Many of these substances are important and even sacred within many cultures, and must be approached with the utmost respect.
1. What Is Ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca may be the most well-known mind-altering substance in North America due to its recent presence in the media. The main ingredient of an ayahuasca concoction is a vine found in South America that contains the psychoactive compound DMT. Many indigenous peoples in the Amazon attest to ayahuascas benefits and consider it the "plant teacher."
Since ayahuasca causes the body to purge and a ceremony can last all night long, its really not for the faint-hearted. The popularity of ayahuasca tours such as this one have been on the rise for years now, but for those less interested in an experience designed purely for tourists, many shaman live within hours of Cusco, Peru and with a bit a of asking around in the San Blas neighborhood, you'd be sure sure to find out some more information. Even if you have no interest in trying this mind-altering substance, we highly recommend Cusco and the surrounding areas!
2. What Is Peyote?
Another word most of us have heard before is peyote. A small, spineless cactus that grows in Northern Mexico and the Southwestern U.S., it gets its name from Nahuatl language and many sources say that its meaning translates to "divine messenger." Indigenous North Americans have been long known to use peyote medicinally and in rituals.
Though peyote tourism exists in places like San Luis Potosí, it is illegal for non-ceremonial and often non-indigenous use in Mexico and the United States and that should always be kept in mind.
3. What Is Iboga?
Iboga is a plant found in the rainforests of western central Africa. Most notably, it is central to Bwiti spiritual practices in and around the country of Gabon—higher dosages being used for ritual practices and lower doses being used to increase alertness for activities such as hunting.
Gabon has become somewhat of a tourist hotspot for mind-altering tourism, but the industry has not received even close to as much attention as ayahuasca or peyote.
4. What Is Kava?
Much more mild than the other substances in this guide, kava, also known as yaqona, is important to many Pacific Islanders. It is consumed in a ceremony and accompanied by a ritual that involves clapping. In Fiji, foreign tourists are often welcomed to take part in kava ceremonies such as this one.
Unlike many of the substances talked about here, kava is legal and is sometimes used as a dietary supplement in the United States.
5. What Is Datura?
Datura, often referred to as jimson weed among other names, is a plant with a long history of medicinal and ritual use. Its main use in the modern world seems to be mostly within Ayurveda communities, but different extracts from the plant have been used in medicines, many which of are even approved by the FDA.
Despite medicinal uses, datura is considered a poisonous plant and in being so, may be harmful. It's likely that the plant originally grew in North America, but can now be found all around the world.
Before using any of the substances mentioned above we highly recommend that you do further research and consult a professional.
If you are interested in traveling to any of the places talked about in this post, use our flight search tool to find the best deals to get there!