Moray, the complete guide
The guide to the andean terraces
Cusco - Peru
Nicole Maxdeo
May 8, 2024

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If visiting this incredible place of Moray is on your plans, look no further, we’ll tell you all about it. Let’s begin!

Table of Contents

Where is Moray located?

Located almost 7 kilometers from the neighboring town of Maras in the Sacred Valley, Moray can be found. To reach this place, you can take a road trip lasting almost 1 hour to this archaeological complex. To get to Moray, you must follow a detour on the main road that connects Cusco and Urubamba. While some people choose to go on their own, the best option is to get a tour package that includes transportation, a tour guide, and entrance tickets.

In terms of altitude, Moray is situated at almost 3500 meters above sea level, which is lower than the city of Cusco.

What is Moray?

According to some historians, they claim that the word Moray may have different origins. Firstly, it is believed to come from the Quechua language, meaning the territory that was occupied since ancient times.
However, the real origin is not known for certain, as others consider it may have been related to the corn harvest called 'Aymoray,' or to the month of May, also called the same by the Incas (the month of plantings in the Inca calendar).

Finally, it is believed that Moray as a word comes from the name of the dehydrated potato known as Moraya.


A bit of Moray's history

Long before the Incas arrived, these territories were inhabited by the Maras and Ayamarcas. These civilizations occupied the territory now known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas; however, after the Spanish conquest, the construction of larger buildings in this area began.

During this time, Moray was built; this archaeological complex, due to its type of construction, was considered an important center dedicated to agriculture.
Moray has a circular shape with a wide variety of terraces ranging from the smallest to the largest. Here, it is believed that the coca leaf, a sacred plant for the Incas, was cultivated. Many of the investigations are not entirely clear since it is not known whether these terraces were developed during the colonial period. However, data exists that during the Shirppe Johnson’s expedition, the area was flown over and these terraces, which at that time were covered by a lot of vegetation, were discovered.

It was during the 20th century that more research was conducted on Moray; one of the most intense was that of the anthropologist John Earls, who established that it was an experimental agricultural center.

What is the climate like in Moray?

In this area of the Sacred Valley, the climate is much milder than in Cusco. The temperature can range between 21 degrees and 10 degrees depending on the season.

Things to See in Moray

This area is rich in landscapes and culture, here we can see:

Verdant Landscapes

Moray boasts a system of terraces that allows us to appreciate the Inca grandeur; it is also surrounded by mountains and snow-capped peaks such as Apu Chicón. This scenery resembles a hand-painted canvas; the clouds, the sky, and the green meadows create a complete magic.

Circular Terraces

These terraces, as mentioned before, are believed to have been an important agricultural center where each level formed part of a different microclimate. Because of this, various species could be cultivated.

Adventure Sports

Around the area, there are various opportunities for horseback riding, ATV rides, or biking.

Inca Agriculture in Moray

Historians and archaeologists believe that various scientific experiments were conducted in Moray to carry out experiments in agriculture. How did this happen? There is ample evidence of its incredible and complex irrigation system, which reveals that these terraces were indeed designed to conduct these experiments.

Additionally, we mentioned earlier that there is a difference in temperatures among the terraces. From the terrace located at the highest point to the first terrace, there are climate variations of 3 to 4 degrees. These microclimates and their variations allowed the Incas to conduct research on the species in the area.

What species did they cultivate?

Although there is no physical or tangible evidence, it is believed that due to its location, the Incas cultivated potatoes and quinoa, as well as the sacred coca leaf.

Likewise, given the climate of the area, maize could have been a principal crop.

What to do in Moray?

In the Moray area, there are various options that complement the visit to this important archaeological center, which are:

Biking Tour

If you enjoy beautiful landscapes and adrenaline, a biking tour is the best option. With this option, you can explore the area while admiring nature and riding on lesser-known routes.

ATV Tour

This option is a favorite among many travelers. The ATV tour in Moray will also take you to visit the Maras salt mines, a set of pools that produce salt. This tour is designed for anyone, whether you're an expert or not, as the handling is very straightforward.

Horseback Riding

Riding horseback with such spectacular views will be the highlight of your visit to this area of the Sacred Valley. Very close to this archaeological complex is the community of Piscuyo. From here, you can take a ride of almost 1 hour where horseback riding will be the main focus. Likewise, you may be able to delight in the snow-capped peaks and mountains of the area.

Enjoy one of the best restaurants in Peru: MIL

This is one of the best restaurants in Cusco and in the world! Recently awarded, Mil Centro by Virgilio Martinez offers a unique Andean experience. This restaurant is located almost on the edge of Moray, at 3680 meters above sea level, in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Moray was an Inca center or laboratory in ancient times, and there's no better place than this to dazzle the palates of thousands of travelers. In addition to food, it offers Andean experiences such as touring the site, harvesting your vegetables, or seeing the production of ingredients.


How to get to Moray?

Taking a tour:

This is the easiest way to get to Moray. You can choose the Super Sacred Valley tour and enjoy a full-day tour to Maras - Moray and other amazing archaeological sites. This tour includes transportation and meals. You can have this amazing tour with us!

Public transportation:

You can opt for a bus from Cusco to Urubamba. These buses depart from Pavitos street and take around 1 hour to get there. From Urubamba, you can ask for taxis and easily reach Moray.

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