Don Lucho (Luis Culquitón) is a fairly unique shaman in Iquitos for a few reasons. Firstly, he never underwent a formal apprenticeship under another shaman. Don Lucho has been communicating with the spirits of his ancestors (of the Cocama tribe) since he was a young child and he has received all his knowledge and training directly from the spirits and the plants he has dieted. He was just 12 years old when he undertook his first plant diet.
He has lived in, and served the same community all his life which is the small village of Manacamiri, which is a few miles outside of Iquitos on the opposite side of the Nanay river. In 1980 he founded Kapitari an organisation and research center dedicated to helping protect and preserve the bio-diversity of the Amazon. Kapitari is located about a 40 minute walk from Manacamiri.
Another remarkable quality about Don Lucho is that he spends almost every day of the week tirelessly working with local farmers and teaching them about permaculture and sustainable farming techniques so that they can grow better and more diverse crops without damaging the land (unsustainable farming practices are a huge problem here in the Amazon and is probably one of the leading causes of deforestation around Iquitos). All the money he raises from his Ayahuasca ceremonies goes towards the running of Kapitari and the funding of projects that help educate the local farmers. What’s also facinating about Don Lucho is that all his incredible knowledge about permaculture and sustainable farming has been taught to him by the spirits of the plants such as Ayahuasca.
Another thing that we also love about Don Lucho is that he a very simple and humble man who is not full of arrogance and bravado like quite a number of other shamans you might come across in Iquitos. You will never hear him bragging about how powerful he is, or how much he knows, but he’s always happy to answer any questions you might have and support you on your journey.