Best time to visit Machu Picchu and Cusco

Moray in Machu Picchu and Cusco

These terraced circular depressions leave scientists puzzled


Moray is an archaeological site in Peru, 50 km (31 mi) northwest of Cusco. The site is located on a high plateau that is 3,500 m (11,500 ft) and consists of unusual circular terraced ruins. The largest of them is about 30 m (98 ft) deep and 220 m (722 feet) wide. Interestingly, their depth, design and position to wind and sun create a temperature difference of 15 °C (27 °F) between different levels.

Archaeologists and historians are still unsure about the purpose of these depressions. One idea is that the terraces may have been part of some agricultural experiment as they also include an irrigation system. The difference in temperature helped in creating micro-climates that could be used as test beds to find out what crops could grow where.

In 2010 heavy rainfalls caused permanent damage to the ruins of Moray. The terraces made from stone and compacted earth were damaged, and the eastern side of the principal circle collapsed. Even though November through March is the rainy season, it is also the best time to find the site at its greenest.

Practical info

What is the best time of year to visit Moray in Machu Picchu and Cusco?

When it comes to visiting Moray, the months of November through March are ideal as this is the greenest time of year, though it is the rainy season. The beautiful scenery is at its best during this time as the landscapes are lush and vibrant. Alternatively, April to October is the dry season, and while it is busy with tourists, it is also somewhat more expensive to visit. Show more

How far is Moray from Cusco?

Located roughly 50 km (31 mi) northwest of Cusco, Moray can be reached in about an hour and 45 minutes by car. The road leading to it has stunning views of the Andean mountains, which can reach heights of 3,500 m (11,500 ft) in some spots. Show more

What is the significance of the circular terraced ruins at Moray?

The circular terraces at Moray have baffled many archaeologists and historians over the years. It is believed that Incas used these circles to test the growth and yields of various crops under different micro-climate conditions. Another theory suggests that they were used for religious ceremonies, such as the planting of maize during the solstice periods. Regardless of their exact purpose, the site holds a sense of wonder and curiosity for visitors to this day. Show more

How did the difference in temperature contribute to Moray's possible agricultural experiments?

A significant factor in Moray’s unique micro-climates is the temperature difference between the different levels of the circular terraces. With differences of up to 15°C (27°F), these levels provided a perfect habitat to experiment with various crop species in different weather conditions. Due to these experiments, Incas were able to achieve successful cultivation and farming, allowing visitors to witness their impressive results to this day. Show more

Was Moray affected by the heavy rainfalls in 2010 and is it still accessible to visitors?

The site of Moray underwent severe damage from heavy rainfall in 2010, causing significant havoc on the terraces, their stonewalls, and the compacted earth. The collapse of the eastern side of the primary circular terrace was particularly prominent. However, despite the damage, the area underwent extensive reconstruction, allowing visitors to view the terraces, which while altered, still told the story of the region's rich history and heritage. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin