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Moray, An Inca Agricultural Experiment

March 23, 2024
Moray, An Inca Agricultural Experiment - 69explorer

Moray, an Inca Experiment or Moray an alien landing site? Which would you prefer, what was the truth, who knows, there was nothing written about the site so to this day the site remains shrouded in mystery? Added to this is the magnificent surroundings of Moray, located in the Magnificent Sacred Valley of the Incas, the Moray sacred site will blow your mind with a mixture of beauty and awe at what these ancient people achieved.

What is Moray?

Moray is one of the famous Inca ruins near Cusco. It is composed of three groups of circular terraces that descend from the highest terrace to the lowest. There are 12 levels of terraces with the largest having a diameter of 600-feet.

What was it for?

With the Incas having no written language, Moray ruins are an enigma. Their purpose has encouraged debate between anthropologists, archaeologists, and curious travelers alike. There are many theories as to why the site was built and for what reason.

The preferred theory is that the Inca used the site to experiment with growing different plants at different conditions with different soil that they bought from different parts of their empire for research purposes. The site features an irrigation system, a series of channels fed by water from a reservoir higher in the mountains, was engineered into the structures of terraces. There is a temperature differencefrom top to bottom ranged an astonishing 27 degrees Fahrenheit (12 degrees Celsius) and also that the sun hit each terrace at different angles and intensities. 

Another Moray theory is that locals tell stories that date back to Inca times of celebrations and ceremonies being held at Moray. Today, locals gather once a year in October to celebrate Moray Raymi at the archaeological site.

Next, we have the theory that because a significant amount of excavation was needed to construct the Moray ruins that the site was once an open-pit mine used by Incan or pre-Incan cultures. After the mine had been depleted, it was then covered by terraces and repurposed for Incan farming and ceremonial uses. 

Lastly and the greatest theory to come out of Moray is that it the Moray ruins is that the circular depressions in the earth are crop circles, or marks left behind by aliens from a UFO landing. With of these theories do you prefer.

How the Moray terraces were made

As you see in Machu Picchu, the terraces at Moray were carved out of the mountain side. The steps or terraces have been reinforced with stone and soil for the water drainage. It has been found with excavations that the Inca imported soil from different regions of Peru, this adds to the hypothesize that Moray was used for crop research.

Feel the temperature difference  

Upon entry to this wonderous Inca site you will get a sense of the size of Moray, spend a few minutes to take in the view and see the magnitude of the largest of set of terraces that descends to the circular bottom. As you descend walking between each level you will experience the difference in temperature at each level.


The high Andes where Moray is located normally experiences cooler temperatures most of the year. The temperature ranges from65-70 F (18-21C).  Average night temperatures range between 30-50 F (1-8 C).

Dry Season

In the Cusco region the dry season is from April to October, this is said to be the best time to visit. The days are cooler and there will be less chance of rainfall, making for a pleasant day in Moray.

Wet Season

The wet season expands from November to March and most days you will experience some rainfall. The temperatures are slightly warmer but you will need to bring a rain jacket as the possibility of rain is high.


With a similar altitude to Cusco, altitude sickness can be a problem for travelers who visit Moray. With everyone being different it is hard to say who will feel the effects. The norm is that people experience minor headache, shortness of breath and some experience loss of appetite. Take a couple of days to adjust to the altitude by resting in Cusco when you arrive.


From Cusco tours to Moray leave every day, you can take a group tour which will include transport to the site and a knowledgeable guide to give you the history and purpose of the site. These tours are conducted in English and sometimes in Spanish. Another option is to do a tour to Moray on a private tour this will give you the flexibility to leave and see what you want, with your own personal guide.

If you are looking to do the tour by yourself you hire a taxi to take you to Moray, negotiate with the driver, make sure you agree that he stays until you are finished with your tour, so they can take you back to Cusco.

What to do in and around Moray?


The Sacred Valley is loaded with dirt trails perfect for biking. One of the best routes is from Maras to Moray. Take a tour with a guide where your first stop will be Moray where you will visit the ruin and take a tour of this fascinating site. Later tour Maras Salt Pans. Not for the faint of heart but worth the effort.

Horseback Riding

Who wouldn’t love to pass through the beautiful Andes on Horseback? Do so while enjoying spectacular mountain peaks like Pituitary, Chicon and Veronica, continue on to the Inca ruins at Moray and later in the day tour the pans at Maras. This is an easy ride suitable for all levels and experience.

Maras Salt Pans

The salt mines at Maras are salt-encrusted ponds that look like a blanket of snow covering the mountainside at a distance. But as you get closer, each of the 3,000 plus ponds takes on various shades of white or tan from the differing levels of saltwater. Maras’s salt has been harvested since pre-Inca times and today travelers are invited to see this centuries-old tradition at work. Vendors at the site entrance sell packaged Maras salt that make excellent souvenirs and provide income for the locals that are owners of the pans.

Maras Town

A small village that is located Maras Salt Pans and Moray has a proud and proud colonial past. Many of the houses feature Spanish coat of arms from the nobility etched in the doorways. See the women wearing traditional hats in the main square, in the town get a look at the life of a traditional Peruvian town.

What to Bring.

Enjoy the Moray ruins and don’t forget the essentials. Make sure to have these items handy during your Moray tour.

What is your opinion, do you believe the theories? Do you have another idea, regardless explore Moray and marvel at the brilliance of the Inca engineers, enjoy the magnificent surrounding Andes Mountains, book your tour today!