Peru Inspirational Adventure

September 29 - October 5, 2019

“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”

Thomas A. Edison

Prepare to astound yourself on this inspirational adventure in Peru – a trip of a lifetime that combines your passion for hiking and experiencing foreign cultures with an opportunity to learn more about what this ancient civilization and current science can teach us in the pursuit of health and wellness.

Peru offers diverse landscapes featuring mystical ruins, ancient civilizations, and a people passionate about their culture and history. Voted #1 in the world for its cuisine three years running, Peru is frequented not only for its food and dynamic culture, but more often as a hot-spot of adventure travel. Our travels in Peru take us down to the Sacred Valley and up the Inca Trail  (considered one of the top 5 treks in the world) to the awe-inspiring archeological wonder Machu Picchu.

What makes this trip even more unique, is the added inspirational program designed to explore current research and understanding of optimal health and longevity led by Karen E. Preston.

As a licensed health practitioner and expert in integrative/functional medicine, Karen will guide you through the three pillars of optimal health (mind, body, and spirit), providing tips and techniques to support lifelong health. During the trip, Karen will highlight current science and common challenges that sabotage our efforts. Supportive activities including yoga, meditation, mindful eating, mindful walking, and a daily gratitude journal are part of this adventure. Additionally, we will make this a Complaint-Free journey to get you started on your own path towards positivity – especially important in the modern-day world.

As with all Zephyr trips, this adventure takes the hassle out of travel by providing arrival and departure airport shuttles, hotel bookings, luggage transfers, and the securing of necessary passes. In addition, this trip to Peru will include engaging local cultural guides, acclimatization hikes and activities in the Sacred Valley and Cusco, most meals, entrance to Machu Picchu, and a scenic train ride along the Urubamba River.

Who This Trip Is For

This trip is for all adventurers who seek to be inspired – inspired by the physical feats of the Inca civilization; inspired by a culture with time-honored spiritual traditions; inspired by the idea that you can learn something new to enhance your own mental, physical, and spiritual health. You do not need to be a yoga enthusiast, have a daily meditation practice, or have any spiritual or medical credentials to be completely inspired on this adventure. You should be able to hike ten kilometers (six miles), be curious about foreign cultures, and have an open mind about science and your health.  

About Karen Preston

KAREN E. PRESTON is a travel and health enthusiast with board certification in family health and advanced practice in integrative/functional medicine, and works as an educator and clinician at a functional medicine practice in North Carolina.

Functional medicine advances our understanding and correction of deficiencies or disruptions that lead to dysfunction and drive disease. In applying cutting-edge, evidence-based research through a whole systems biology approach, Karen offers her patients a personalized path to achieve remarkable results – often after decades of health and vitality lost. Ultimately, Karen seeks to empower people with the knowledge and know-how to achieve optimal wellness.

Karen’s work outside patient care has included teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, medical journal publications, and lecturing on cutting-edge health topics. Understanding that optimal health encompasses mind and spirit, Karen is also trained in Transcendental Meditation, Primordial Sound Meditation, and is a Trinity Energy Progression practitioner.

Karen earned her MSN from the University of Pennsylvania as a family nurse practitioner, along with her BSN in Nursing from George Mason University, and BA in Sociology from Bryn Mawr College.

Karen is an alumna of multiple Zephyr Adventures tours around the world and led last year’s Peruvian adventure for Zephyr.


  • Dates: September 29 - October 5, 2019
  • Cost Per Person: $3,650
  • Single Supplement: $1,000
  • Activities: Hiking, Transformational Activities
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Guides: Karen Preston and local guides

Other Info: This trip is limited to 20 people. We will add an American-based guide when the group reaches 10 participants.

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Past Traveler Tour Rating

4.40/5 stars

Trip Highlights

  • Hiking in the footsteps of an ancient culture in the Sacred Valley of the Inca
  • Visiting Machu Picchu, the astonishing remnant of a past civilization
  • Learning how to transform your life into a richer, fuller, healthier version
Day 1

We will meet you upon arrival at the Cusco airport (elevation almost 11,000 feet) and take a moment to make introductions, stretch our legs, and enjoy lunch in this beautiful city before we whisk you away to the Sacred Valley less than two hours away. Here we will check into our hotel, discuss an overview of the trip, and have an opportunity to share a bit about ourselves. This evening, we will meet to explore the foundations and benefits of meditation and gratitude journaling and then sit to meditate as a group. We will also present the practice of a Complaint-Free World and the power of thought. Today is a busy day, so our dinner will be at the hotel and allow you to retire early this evening.

  • Meditation Topic Overview: Meditation has been widely studied and is being utilized exponentially at Fortune 100 companies to enhance creativity and productivity, and lower costs associated with illness. Starting with a discussion of how meditation impacts our physiologic function, we will review meditation practices and provide tips on how and why to make meditation a priority. As an adjunct to meditation, we will review how gratitude and complaining impact our brains and provide an opportunity to make some positive changes. During our trip, we will incorporate daily meditation practice and gratitude journaling to set our intention and vision as a part of this inspirational adventure.
  • Inspirational Activities: Meditation (15 minutes) and Gratitude Journal
Day 2

We start this morning with a yoga session and short meditation followed by a breakfast incorporating Mindful Eating that includes five minutes of eating in silence. After breakfast, we hike the ruins of Ollantaytambo, an important fortified city built to control the roads to the jungle and have some time in the local market outside the ruins. After lunch on your own in town, we will have some time to acclimate and explore the local village near the hotel. This  evening we will leave the hotel for a special traditional Pachamanca dinner, an underground cooking technique used locally for centuries, and learn about the spiritual practices of the Incas and their devotions to Pachamama (Mother Earth). Prior to dinner, we will meet to discuss Food as Medicine, an important part of your inspirational adventure.

  • Food As Medicine Topic Overview: Food is foundational to optimal physiologic and mental health, and the global increase in chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel disease, and heart disease is associated with the spread of the Western diet. Tonight’s discussion will include how food impacts our body, brain, and genetic expression, along with optimal foods and nutrients. This topic will set the stage for our culinary exploration during the week and connects back to the Peruvian culture and its agricultural history.
  • Inspirational Activities: Yoga, Meditation, Mindful Eating, Gratitude Journaling
Day 3

We’ll again start the day with pre-breakfast yoga and meditation. After breakfast, we’ll shuttle to the Moray agricultural laboratory, also located in the Sacred Valley. This impressive off-the-beaten-path site has a cavernous amphitheater-like bowl with dozens of concentric terraces, each with its own microclimate. The Incas used this outdoor laboratory to determine the optimal conditions for growing crops of each species. From there, we hike to the nearby town of Maras for a lunch prepared by our local guide and staff. Our total hiking time today is approximately three hours and we will take ten minutes of that to practice “Mindful Walking” – a mindful meditation where we’ll walk without talking, not always an easy practice for Westerners. Afterward, we’ll make our way back and stop into the market town of Chinchero and learn the ancient practices of dying and weaving textiles. Once we’re back in Ollantaytambo, we will take an hour for our next topic presentation, enjoy dinner, then relax and prepare for the big day ahead!

  • Gut Check Topic Overview: Current research shows that our microbiome makes up to 90% of the cells in our body and 99% of our DNA – the health of our intestinal microbiome (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) is directly related to our overall physical and mental health. Research is showing that nearly all chronic disease can be linked back to the changes in the gut. Not only is up to 90% of the critical neurotransmitter serotonin made in the gut, but 70% of the immune system is found in the gut. Explore how to support these microbial communities to improve physical and mental health.
  • Inspirational Activities: Yoga, Walking Meditation, Gratitude Journal
Day 4

We will rise very early and walk to the Ollantaytambo train station, where we will board a train heading towards Macchu Picchu but disembark at Kilometer 104 to begin our hike to the famous Inca ruins. After showing our trail passes and passports to the rangers at the entrance, we will start our 10-kilometer hike, passing beautiful waterfalls, native flora, and mountain birds such as the tiny picaflor (hummingbird). We will arrive at the well-preserved remains of Wiñay Wayna (2650m/8745ft) about three hours later and have lunch. After lunch and a bit of exploration at Wiñay Wayna, we will continue our hike to Inti Punku (or Sun Gate), where we will get our first unforgettable and wonderful glimpse of Machu Picchu, one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of modern times. From there, it is a short one-kilometer descent from the Sun Gate into Machu Picchu itself (2400m/7920ft).  We will have a brief orientation about this ancient city but will save our exploration for tomorrow. A quick shuttle (sitting on a bus never felt so good!) will take us to our hotel in the bustling little town of Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo.

  • Inspirational Activities: Yoga, Meditation, Gratitude Journal
Day 5

We will wake up very early and return to Machu Picchu today, in time to see the sun rise, and we’ll have it mostly to ourselves for a few hours before the hordes of visitors arrive by train from Cusco.  You’ll have the option to wander on your own or learn more about its fascinating history from our guide before returning to Aguas Calientes. After lunch, we will return to Ollantaytambo via scenic train and then transfer by private coach to Cusco (which all takes a little over three hours). This is a long day, and dinner tonight is on your own – your guide will be happy to make recommendations. Group meditation will be held in the hotel prior to retiring for the evening.

  • Inspirational Activities: Meditation, Gratitude Journal
Day 6

We’ll have our final pre-breakfast yoga session and meditation. After breakfast, we will have a day of exploration in Cusco, the cradle of the Incan Empire and a beautiful city. We will explore Sacsayhuaman ruins, visit the sun temple, and then visit the cathedral and some of the other major attractions in Cusco. Before our farewell dinner at one of our favorite Cusco restaurants, the Inca Grill, we will have our final inspirational topic.

  • Optimizing Health Topic Overview: We will cover final aspects of optimizing our health through a functional approach. Today’s talk will address sleep, detoxifying in a toxic environment, exercise, and hormones. Our focus is on disease prevention and health optimization.
  • Transformational Activities: Yoga, meditation, gratitude journaling, and communion with the group during our final dinner together.
Day 7

We will have a final morning to share breakfast or eat on your own and meet to talk about Putting It All Together. Depending on when your flight leaves, you may have additional time to explore this inspirational city. Zephyr will provide a transfer to the Cusco airport at any time today if you are leaving Cusco. The hotel will be happy to store your luggage until you leave if you depart after the official checkout time.

  • Continuing Your Journey: Today we’ll discuss what we learned and experienced on this inspirational journey, how to stay connected, and what is next!
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Trip Accommodations

Nights 1, 2 & 3 >> Hotel Pakaritampu / Ollantaytambo

Located 56 miles from Cusco, in the heart of the Inca’s Sacred Valley. We love the spectacular gardens here, as well as the friendly staff that makes sure we always have plenty of warm coca tea.

Night 4 >> El MaPi Hotel / Aguas Calientes

The contemporary El MaPi Hotel is a comfortable landing spot after our day on the trail, especially when you are handed a refreshing lemongrass lemonade upon arrival. It is located in the center of “Machu Picchu town” and provides a perfect base for exploring.

Nights 5 & 6 >> Costa del Sol Picoaga Hotel / Cusco

This four-star luxury hotel was originally a mansion of the Spanish nobility. Located only two blocks from the Plaza de Armas, the main square of Cusco, it is a wonderful retreat in the heart of the action! Note: Our hotels are subject to change based on availability, but this doesn't happen very often. If it does, we always substitute a hotel of equal or better quality and will inform you of any changes prior to the trip.

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Arrival & Departure

We will meet you at the Cusco, Peru airport (airport code CUZ) at 1:00 PM on the first day of the trip. You can fly home at any time on the last day of the trip, but we recommend a late afternoon flight since most flights back to the US from Lima depart late at night. We will provide further travel details upon booking.

What's Included
  • Our Peru-based guide and host Karen Preston will accompany your group the entire trip; we will also send an American-based trip leader with larger groups (over 10 people).
  • Double occupancy lodging is included. If you are traveling solo, we will match you with another traveler of the same gender. However, you may pay a single supplement to have your own room.
  • All meals except three lunches and one dinner are included.
  • All ground transportation is included, including pickup and dropoff at the Cusco airport.
  • All permits and entry fees to hike on the Inca Trail and visit Machu Picchu and other ruins.
  • NOT INCLUDED Flight to and from Cusco, airport departure taxes (usually included in your flight cost), beverages when dining out, gratuities for your guides, and personal expenses.
Trip Insurance

Because we must provide a deposit to our local outfitters, the $500 deposit for this trip is not refundable or transferable to another trip, starting seven days after you receive your tour confirmation email.  Please strongly consider trip insurance!


The average high temperature in Cusco doesn’t change much during the year and is usually in the mid-60s degrees Fahrenheit while the overnight low is in the lower 40s. Temperatures will be about five degrees warmer in Lima and nighttime temperatures will be about 10 degrees colder on the trek. We avoid the rainy season, which runs from late October to early April. Therefore, you should expect excellent hiking weather but with cool nights.


The city of Cusco is located at almost 11,000 ft, so altitude is a definite factor on this trip. We help mitigate the risk of altitude sickness by gradually acclimating to the altitude before beginning our hikes.  However, you may also want to consider a medication such as Diamox to help lessen the effects of altitude.

Changes to Your Itinerary

While everything under “What is Included” will remain the same, the actual restaurants, hotels, and activities listed in our itineraries are subject to modifications. Changes that are out of our control are common – a restaurant closes or loses its awesome chef, a hotel gets remodeled, a road or trail undergoes construction. You are entrusting us to create an outstanding vacation for you and so it is possible we may take the liberty of making necessary changes (even at the last minute, during the guides’ scout trip) to the itinerary that will improve your overall trip experience. If there is any one experience that is going to make or break your trip, please discuss this with us in advance! We will attempt to keep our website itinerary as current as possible and communicate any major changes with you in the weeks prior to the tour.

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