on September 2, 2006
The Inca ruins at Moray, located 33 miles away from Cusco, at an altitude of 11,100 feet a.s.l., are one of the best-kept secrets amongst the Inca ruins, especially within the Sacred Valley. Moray is not visited much by tourists, and the drive to the ruins through the rural dirt roads, watching local farmers use their donkeys to plough the fields, is a cultural experience in itself.The Moray archaeological site is unique amongst Inca ruins and consists of two huge circular terraced amphitheatres built for agricultural purposes. Many researchers believe this site was an agricultural experimental laboratory (like a greenhouse), with each terrace having its own micro-climate. This allowed the Incas to find which conditions and climate best suited their crops. The temperature between the top of the amphitheatres and the bottom can vary by as much as 59°F. The whole site is fed by irrigation tunnels that are perfectly working to this day, around 500 years since the complex was built.The bigger of the two amphitheatres has a depth of 150m, and the average width of each terrace is 1.8m. The Incas not only knew what climate suited each crop best, but the land here is very porous, which made excellent filtration and almost zero chance of flooding. Of course, all of this was very important for the Incans, who had over 3,000 varieties of potatoes to choose from, and I highly expect they knew the perfect conditions for each of these varieties.Stones built into the terrace walls allow visitors to walk from the top of the amphitheatres to the bottom, but some of these steps are pretty steep, especially going down, so I am not sure if visiting here is a very good idea for young children. Once you reach the bottom, though, the view is amazing. All you can see are the encompassing stone walls and the sky above.I do have a small complaint about Moray to make, although it only took away my enjoyment slightly. Upon entering Moray to your right is the smaller of the two amphitheatres. Here the grass has been left to grow a little higher and the walls have been slowly degraded by nature. For me this is more of an authentic view. To the left, though, the biggest amphitheatre has been restored to how it looked when it was first built. The walls have been perfectly restored, the grass is perfectly cut, and there are even crops growing. Unfortunately, for me, it looks something like a re-creation than a real Inca ruin and no longer looks as authentic as I think it should.Entrance to Moray costs $1.50, but normally as part of a private tour, including Maras Saltmines, expect to pay $45, with entrance, transport, and guide included. Moray is open from 7:30am to 3:30pm every day of the week.
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