Peru Transformational Journey

October 6 - 12, 2018

“Your comfort zone is a place where you keep yourself in a self-illusion.”

Rashedur Ryan Rahman

Take yourself out of your comfort zone on this magical trip to Peru that combines hiking, foreign cultures, and a program of personal transformation – all in the spiritual setting of Peru.

Peru offers great civilizations, vast landscapes, and a people passionate about their culture and history. Peru is one of the hot spots of adventure travel, primarily because it is home to both Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. We visit Machu Picchu via a shorter, one-day hike of 10 kilometers which finishes at the Sun Gate of this ancient city.

But what makes this trip special is the program of personal transformation you will undertake with your fellow travelers, led by certified Nurse Practitioner and integrated medicine expert Karen Preston. Karen will address the three pillars of optimal health (mind, body, and spirit) with daily talks she uses in her practice. We will incorporate transformational activities including yoga, meditation, mindful eating, mindful walking, and a daily gratitude journal. We will also make this a Complaint-Free Journey that will get you started on your own path towards positivity – perhaps especially important in the modern-day world.This trip includes airport-to-airport service, 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

You do not need to be a yoga enthusiast, participate in meditation,
or have any spiritual or medical credentials to participate in this
tour. 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.  You should be eager to learn new tips and tools for improving
your own mental, physical, and spiritual health now to ward off
lifestyle diseases of the future.

About Karen Preston

Karen’s background in family medicine with certification in functional medicine (see the Institute for Functional Medicine site for more info) creates an opportunity for her patients to experience personalized medicine and get to the root cause of chronic disease where changes can be made to help restore health and well being. Ultimately, Karen seeks to empower her patients with the knowledge and know-how to achieve optimal wellness.

Karen earned her MSN from the University of Pennsylvania, along with her BSN in Nursing from George Mason University, and BA in Sociology from Bryn Mawr College. For more than 14 years, Karen has enjoyed the immense rewards of working with individuals and families in the health and wellness field.

We know Karen as an alumna of multiple Zephyr Adventures tours around the world and are happy to be working with her to create this novel journey!


  • Dates: October 6 - 12, 2018
  • Cost Per Person: $3,650
  • Optional Single Supplement: $1,000
  • Activities: Hiking, Transformational Activities
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Guides: Santiago Castelo

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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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 at 1:00 PM at the Cusco airport (elevation almost 11,000 feet) and whisk you away to the Sacred Valley where we’ll visit an archaeological site and market town of Chinchero, about an hour away and several thousand feet lower (crucial for acclimatization), outside of Cusco.  We continue from there to check into our hotel where we will have introductions, an overview of the trip, and an opportunity to share your expectations and goals for the week. Before dinner we will meet to discuss our first Transformational Topics, meditation and gratitude journaling, and then sit to meditate as a group.  Today is a busy day, so our dinner tonight will be casual, allowing you to retire early this evening.

  • Transformational Topics: Meditation: The science of meditation/stress reduction and how to de-stress the mind and increase energy. Starting with a discussion of how meditation impacts our physiologic function from the genome to the boardroom – how and why to make meditation a priority. Daily practice throughout the trip to set our intention and vision will be part of the transformational journey.Gratitude Journaling:We will institute a practice for the week of writing down moments of gratitude we experienced today – which should not be difficult to find!
  • Transformational Activities: Meditation (15-minute) and Gratitude journal
Day 2

We start this morning with a yoga session followed by a Mindful Eating Breakfast, that includes five minutes of eating in silence. After breakfast we visit the ruins of Ollantaytambo, an important fortified city built to control the roads to the jungle.  After lunch on your own in town, we head to the native village of Cacchicata, whose people are truly descended from the Inca and who make up most of the staff on our Inca Trail hiking tours. In Cacchicata we will learn about local agriculture and spiritual practices and hike to a promontory containing a shamanic hut. For dinner, we will learn about the traditional Pachamanca, an underground cooking technique used locally for centuries, and talk about Food as Medicine, an important part of your transformational week. Upon return from the hotel and before retiring, we will again sit for a group meditation – and learn how much more difficult it can be when tired!

  • Transformational Topic: Food As Medicine: From soil to plate, rethinking how food impacts our body, brain, and genetic expression.  Discussion of optimal foods, nutrients and mindful eating for health and vitality will set the stage for our culinary exploration during the week. Transform your palate and genetic expression in one week, and experience the difference it can make.
  • Transformational Activities: Yoga, Mindful Eating Breakfast, Meditation, Gratitude Journal.
Day 3

We’ll again start the day with pre-breakfast yoga. After breakfast, we will sit down to discuss the microbiome as it relates to physical and mental health. We’ll then 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. Afterward, we’ll continue on foot to visit the nearby salt pans, where local families make their living mining salt. Our total hiking time today is approximately three hours and we will take ten minutes of that to practice “Mindful Walking”, in which we’ll walk without talking, not always something easy for Westerners. This is a unique hike where you will see few other travelers. We’ll return to Ollantaytambo for a wonderful dinner and our comfortable beds.

  • Transformational Topic: Gut Check: How our Microbiome Influences Optimal Physical and Mental Health. Current research shows that our microbiome makes up 90% of the cells in our body. Mood, heart disease, obesity, immune disorders, and many other chronic diseases are related to the health and diversity of our microbiome. Not only is up to 80% 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 and improve brain, immune, and gastrointestinal function.
  • Transformational Activities: Yoga, Walking Meditation, Gratitude Journal (on your own).
Day 4

We will rise 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. We will arrive at the well-preserved remains of Wiñay Wayna (2650m/8745ft) about three hours later, where we will have lunch. On the way, we will see beautiful waterfalls, native flora, and mountain birds as well as practice Walking Meditation for 10 minutes. After lunch and 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.

  • Transformational Topic: None
  • Transformational Activities: Yoga, Walking Meditation, Gratitude Journal (on your own)
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 a scenic train ride and then transfer by private coach to Cusco (which all takes a little over three hours). Before dinner, we will have a short group meditation followed by a talk on Optimizing Health. Dinner tonight is on your own and your guide will be happy to make recommendations.

  • Transformational Topic: Optimizing Health – A Functional Medicine Approach to Health: A systems biology approach to optimizing vitality and reversing disease through functional medicine. Topics will cover improving sleep, immunity, detoxifying in a toxic environment, hormones, and exercise. Focus is disease prevention and health optimization.
  • Transformational Activities: Meditation, Gratitude Journal (on your own)
Day 6

We’ll have our final pre-breakfast yoga session. After breakfast, we will have a talk on Connecting With Your Heart’s Wisdom and the Power of Positive Thinking. Our day of exploration is in Cusco, the cradle of the Incan Empire and a beautiful city. The morning today is free to do as you like in Cusco – exploring the town, or resting up after your hike on the Inca Trail.  We will meet in time to have lunch, explore Sacsayhuaman ruins, visit the sun temple and then visit the cathedral and some of the other major attractions in Cusco. Tonight we will have a farewell dinner at one of our favorite Cusco restaurants, Incanto, where we will have a dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, caffeine-free, and alcohol-free dinner.

  • Transformational Topic: Connecting with Your Heart’s Wisdom and the Power of Positive Thinking: How Your Interaction with and interpretation of your environment impacts your health. Explore current topics in neuroscience and the dynamic brain, positive psychology, and mind-body medicine to transform your life and focus on what works! Yoga & meditation will be utilized to ground your intention and visualize your optimal you throughout the trip!
  • Transformational Activities: Dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, caffeine-free, and alcohol-free dinner
Day 7

We will have a final pre-breakfast talk about Putting It All Together. We 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.

  • Transformational Topic: Continuing Your Journey: Putting it All Together and Moving Forward: We’ll discuss what we learned on this Transformation Travel tour and how you can implement it at home.
  • Transformational Activities: None
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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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