Hiking from Moray to Maras: moderate and amazing

During my mother’s visit I was determined to show her as much of the beauty that Cusco and the Sacred Valley have to offer as possible – preferably on foot. She’s fit and active, and always up for an adventure…but she also was coming from Boston, Massachusetts, approximate elevation 50 ft above sea level. During her first couple of days in Peru she was suffering from fairly common altitude sickness symptoms: headaches, shortness of breath, and some nausea. So, the challenge was to find great treks that would provide up close and personal views of the stunning Urubamba range, offer the opportunity to see the abundance of bird species and plant diversity in the area, and avoid the long uphills or sky-scraping altitudes of some of the more popular multi-day treks. Moray to Maras fit the bill perfectly.
We started out Thursday morning by taking the local bus, and then a hired taxi, to the road leading up to the Moray Inca archeological site: an amazing series of circular terraces carved like a bowl into the earth. We were fortunate with the weather; the rain held off and the clouds actually began to lift a little as we started out on the 15km trek.
All along the way we were amazed by how beautiful the landscape was. Every shade of green imaginable was represented in the rolling hills that lead up to stark, glaciated peaks – interrupted only by the brightly colored wildflowers and long rows of various crops planted in fields along the trail. We were also lucky to see eagles, falcons, Cara Cara, and iridescent hummingbirds darting around this incredible landscape.
All along the route was moderate: mostly flat with some rolling hills, and almost entirely downhill once we reached the town of Maras. The descent into the Sacred Valley is almost surreal: sometimes it’s hard to keep walking as you stare up at these giant mountains in front of you with huge waterfalls and deep canyons that seem almost close enough to touch.
This route is often promoted as a perfect mountain bike day trip– and I will admit, the downhill at the end is more fun on wheels- but walking with my mother allowed us to really take in the beauty around us, and enjoy some great conversations in the mean time.

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