Today Atoq decided to visit Moray and to share some information with you guys about this incredible place as well as options to visit this known Inca agricultural lab. The name Moray comes from the Quechua word Amoray which means the harvesting of corn. It is a renowned archeological site that dates back to the Inca Empire. The Incas are known for their advanced scientific and agricultural techniques as well as their advanced irrigation systems (some of them still in use today).
Moray is located 45kms away from Atoq San Blas in Cusco, the trip from Cusco´s Historic Center to Moray takes about 50 minutes. The complex consists of several circular terraces with a precise variation in altitude and exact orientation towards the sun. This difference in altitude (the compound has roughly 100 meters of depth) generates a variation in temperature of up to 15Cº between the lower terraces and the ones on the top. A fun fact here, this 15Cº difference present in Moray is roughly the difference in temperature between the coast and the highlands in Peru (areas that were occupied by the Inca Empire at its prime).
The climate difference created by ancient Peruvians in Moray helped the Incas to experiment on different kinds of crops and their adaptability to different climates. By doing so they accomplished to naturally modify and adapt crops to make them fit to different areas of the Empire. It is believed that the vast variety of potatoes that exist today in Peru (more than 2000 varieties) is partly a result of these experiments.
Now that you know a bit more about Moray I´m sure you want to go there once you are in Cusco, here are some options to get to Moray. One adventurous option is to make a “bike-tour” to Moray, going through the downhill routes available in the area (difficulty level: medium) in this case most tours visit Maras as well (check out our Maras post to know more about the Salt Mines). Cusco Biking Tour is a company that specializes in bicycle tours, by which travellers are picked at Atoq San Blas and depart towards Maras and from there the participants take a ride towards Moray. This tour also includes the chance to try some ancient culinary traditions from the area such as Huatia (which is an ancient method of cooking different types of potatoes). The tour includes all the equipment and safety gear and you can book directly from the website.
Willka Travel offers a quad bike tour (ATV) towards Moray, this tour visits Maras as well and travellers get to see the countryside, landscape and little towns between Maras and Moray. The tour lasts 1 day and includes pick-up from out boutique hotel and all the required equipment.
If you like to hike it is possible to get to Moray from Chinchero or Urubamba walking, the journey takes a bit more of 2 hours and we recommend you do it with a guide that knows the area. This trek is lovely as the landscape and scenery is breathtaking, it is possible to stop at little towns, see animals such as llamas and more. Remember to take comfortable shoes and ideal for hiking, water, hat, light clothes and sun block as the day can get fairly hot. A special note because of the altitude, Moray is 3500 meters above sea level so we recommend acclimatizing before any hike.
If you want to visit Moray but want to do it more comfortably, Turismoi is a website in which you can book different kinds of tours, in this case they offer a Moray and Maras tour that includes pickup from hotel and transfer to the archeological sites in a touristic van. This tour makes a brief stop at the Huaypo lagoon (check out our post about this great lagoon!)
Remember that to Access Moray it is necessary to have a “Touristic ticket” or pay a direct entry ticket at the entrance. The best time of the year to visit Moray is after the rainy season which takes place from December to March because rain will make the terraces look Green being much more impressive, some crops can also be found at this time.