Follow in the footsteps of the ancient Incas on a horseback or mountain bike adventure through Peru’s Sacred Valley
The wonders of the ancient Inca civilisation are, for most visitors, one of the most exciting aspects of a journey through Peru. Along with the famous ruins of Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu, high in the Andes mountains, there are countless smaller, lesser visited ancient sites that are hidden away in the Sacred Valley of the Incas and well worth a visit.
Moray Inca Terraces
Within easy reach of Hotel Sol y Luna are two extraordinary sites: the Incan agricultural terraces of Moray, built on a high plateau in the Sacred Valley, and the vast salt pans ‘salineras’ of Maras. Visit these remarkable feats of engineering and architecture deep in the mountains – fascinating symbols of the Incas’ ingenuity from centuries ago, so well preserved.
Moray, which looks like a great amphitheatre nestled into the mountains, is in fact an ancient agricultural research station that showcases just how advanced the Inca civilisation was. Its many circular terraces, all raised at different levels, were designed purposefully to create microclimates for various agricultural needs. The site has its own irrigation system and evidence shows that soils were brought here from elsewhere to be used on various crops at different terrace levels.
Maras Salt Pans
Nearby, Maras is home to a vast network of hundreds of salt pans – small pools that are milky white against the reddish earth, where locals still hand-harvest pink salt using traditional techniques from centuries ago. You can walk all around the salt-pans and buy salt goods from local market stalls. The Andean town, once occupied by Spanish colonialists, is home to one of the oldest churches outside Cuzco – San Francisco de Maras – and its houses still feature coats of arms carved into their stone doorways.
Inca history & traditions
As you explore the Sacred Valley, there is so much to learn about Inca history and traditions. Whilst their legacy remains part-mystery, discovering Moray and Maras up close tells us so much about a people that once thrived in these highlands. These places can easily be visited on foot or as part of a half-day Andean mountain biking adventure or a full-day horseback ride, setting off from Sol y Luna after breakfast.
The Sol y Luna mountain bike adventure begins with drop-off in Maras, before riding to the salt pans along old bridle paths that were traditionally used by locals travelling between the town and valley, and offering amazing views of mountain glaciers. There is time to explore the salt pans on foot, before continuing down the valley and crossing through small local farms to reach Sol y Luna for a well-earned rest.
So, can you combine this bike ride with Moray?
Horse riding is another wonderful way of exploring the Sacred Valley, feeling at one with the land and enjoying stunning scenery. Sol y Luna’s stable of Peruvian Paso horses are known for being gentle and comfortable. Ride along peaceful paths through small local farms belonging to the Rumichaca and Taramamba communities, and ascend the Paucarbamba gorge for breathtaking views of glaciers along the eastern cordillera of the Andes, reaching the high plateau by Moray in time for a delicious picnic lunch.
After visiting the archaeological site on foot, the ride continues along an ancient mule track to Maras, before descending into the valley towards the ‘salineras’ via a narrow trail used for generations by workers in the salt mines. Then wander and learn about the site’s history before continuing the descent home to Sol y Luna.
A visit to Moray and Moras is just one of many thoughtfully curated private excursions that guests can enjoy from Hotel Sol y Luna, a luxurious Relais & Chateaux lodge set within hummingbird-filled gardens and surrounded by mountain peaks in Peru’s Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Sol y Luna is a wonderful base for outdoor adventures and cultural experiences, from exploring ancient Inca ruins to visiting traditional Andean villages, trekking in the mountains, rafting the Rio Urubamba, paddle-boarding on high-altitude lakes, riding Peruvian Paso horses, quad biking through beautiful valleys and perusing colourful artisanal markets for hand-woven textiles, crafts and ceramics.
Last but not least…
Saving some time for relaxing in your private adobe casita, lazing by the pool amidst mountain scenery and indulging in a spa treatment is also highly recommended! As a Relais & Chateaux hotel, Sol y Luna offers an exceptional level of service, fantastic seasonal gastronomy and expert local guiding.
Visiting the Sol y Luna Foundation, including the foster home and school, is a very special experience whilst staying at Sol y Luna. The foundation, which is directly supported by every single guest’s stay at Sol y Luna, is of vital importance to the local community, educating and caring for underprivileged children in the region.
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