As majestic as it is mysterious, Moray is an archaeological site nestled in the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Follow the guide!
💡 The Captain’s tip 💡
Want to know more about the history of Cusco? Captain Ulysses highly recommends this free guided tour of the city (in English or Spanish). It’s up to you to choose how much you want to tip the guide!
Brief history of the archaeological site of Moray
While etymology can often throw light on the origins of archeological sites, there remain some doubts as to the semantic origin of Moray. Indeed, Moray could derive from two Quechua words: “Amoray” which means “cornfield” or “the month of harvest”, the sixth month of the Inca calendar (around May), or ” Moraya “, which means “dried out potato”.
One thing is certain, Moray is all about agriculture and botany. Well, that’s what archaeologists think anyway! Moray seems in all likelihood to be a former agricultural research center, where the Incas carried out various experiments on crops and plants (especially vegetables).
The archaeological ensemble was discovered in 1932 during the expedition led by Shirppe Johnson. The archeological site of Moray is organised around three sets of terraces formed by several levels of concentric circles, which are reminiscent of Ancient Greek and Roman amphitheatres.
The main circle consists of twelve 2 metre-high terraces built on a stone floor covered with sand and topsoil. Moray has an irrigation system consisting of canals fed by a large basin located on the heights of the site.
Moray, a botanical laboratory?
Moray is absolutely spectacular to behold, but that’s not all of it! The site also offers incredible insights into Inca culture. Archeologists believe that the 12 terraces created micro climates, thanks to the difference in temperature at each level. The depth, design, and orientation with respect to wind and sun of each terrace were responsible for significant temperature differences between the top and the bottom of the ensemble. A difference of nearly 5 ° C can be observed between the innermost and the outermost terraces.
Thanks to these micro climates, over 250 species of plants were grown in Moray, including Amazonian plants suited to milder temperatures. Archeologists believe that Moray was some sort of botanical laboratory, much like a seeding nursery for the entire Inca Empire.
Visiting Moray in Peru
You can visit Moray on your own or opt for an organised day tour from Cusco. To each their own!
Visiting the archeological site on your own
Not interested in mingling with other tourists? No problem, getting to Moray is quite easy. Several options:
- buses: take the bus from Cusco to Urubamba, then a taxi from Urubamba to Moray.
- Colectivos: this option is more flexible. Take a colectivo from Cusco to the Maras – Moray paradero. From there, you’ll be able to take a taxi to Moray.
- Taxis: this is quite obviously the most expensive option, but it is a time saver. Fares revolve around 80 soles for the return trip.
Once in Moray, you’re free to explore the site at your own pace. However, make sure you have the (full or partial) boleto turistico before your visit. You can purchase it in Cusco or at the entrance to the sites. Please note that to this day, the boleto turistico still cannot be purchased online. Take a moment to take in the view: the site is quite simply spectacular. After exploring Moray, the Captain highly recommends visiting the Maras Salt Mines, which are easily accessible from Moray (≈ 20 minute taxi ride).
Opting for a day trip to Moray
Several agencies offer tours from Cusco, most of which include a stopover at the Maras Salt Mines:
- Thrill seekers will most definitely opt for a Quad Bike Tour!
- Biking enthusiasts might prefer this bicycle tour from Cusco.
- But there’s nothing wrong with going simple either and opt for a ‘classical’ tour to Moray including the services of a guide and transportation. Captain Ulysses recommends 2 tours in particular: find out more here and here.
In any case, you will have to purchase the boleto turistico for Moray and the entrance ticket to Maras (which is not included in the boleto turistico to date).
Best time to visit Moray
The climate in the region of Moray is a tropical mountain climate. The temperatures can vary quite significantly between day and night, but are generally stable throughout the year (around 20°C / 68°F). The level of precipitation on the other hand depends on the seasons. While it barely rains at all during the dry season (April to October), the wet season (November to March) is chracterized by heavy rains. Traveling during the dry season is overall (obviously) quite pleasant, but you should know that Moray is even more spectacular during the wet season, when the landscape displays infinite variations of green. Up to you !
On October 8, hundreds of natives of the surrounding communities gather in Moray to celebrate Moray Raymi, festivities in honour of the Sun including folk dances and spiritual offerings.
👉 Looking for tips and recommendations? Here are all of Captain Ulysses’ suggestions!
🛏️ Accommodation:To book your accommodation in Cusco, Captain Ulysses highly recommends Booking.com where you’ll find a wide selection of hotels, hostels and flats. If you’re budget is tight, the Captain recommends 2 hostels in particular: Blacky Hostel and Tucan Hostel . As for midscale options, the Captain recommends three guest houses: Luna House Cusco , Killaly Inn and Llipimpac Guesthouse. Finally, if you want to treat yourself to a very nice hotel, you should definitely consider the Palacio del Inka.
🎟️ Activities: as far as visits and activities are concerned, Captain Ulysses recommends the online booking platforms Civitatis and GetYourGuide. Guided tours, sport activities … there’s plenty to choose from!
🚐 Transfers: You’ll find here a selection of transfers to/from Cusco.
✈️ Flights: Captain Ulysses warmly recommends Skyscanner to book your flights to Cusco. You’ll be able to compare countless offers to find the best deal. If your dates are flexible, you can also compare prices over several months to find the cheapest flights possible.
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