Arts + Culture

Mind–Altering Vacations

by Barbara Cleveland


The buzz: You can get just as high from a thorough detox as you can from taking drugs—which is why Mexico's temezcals, or sweat lodges, are so popular. In this ancient Mesoamerican ritual, participants lie on the floor of a rounded adobe hut, gazing into a central fire while a shaman creates a steam with medicinal herbs like arnica, chamomile, aloe, and sage. Expect total euphoria from the one-to-three-hour ritual, where temperatures range from 90 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Where to score: Avoid the ramshackle temezcals that dot Mexico unless you want to hang out with wild-eyed New Agers chatting about the power of crystals. Instead, go for tried-and-tested local favorites run by trained pros, like the Maya Spa Wellness Center outside of Tulum.

Where to chill: Find a resort that specializes in the ritual. The ultraluxe Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita has a white adobe temezcal on the beach, heated by burning wood from the sapote tree, and an experienced shaman who will lead you through the nearly three-hour ceremony before bringing you to bathe in the ocean. If authenticity is your aim, opt for the Posada del Tepozteco in Tepoztlán, about 45 minutes outside of Mexico City, which has hosted everyone from Diego Rivera to Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas.

How to come down: Drink water (bottled—this is Mexico!). The dehydration from the sweating can leave you with the same kind of shaking hangover you get after an endless night at the bar.

Next: Something to chew on

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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