The Maras Salt Mines are a fascinating and ancient salt extraction site situated in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Cusco. These salt mines have been in operation since pre-Inca times and continue to produce salt to this day.

History

The Maras Salt Mines have been in use since pre-Inca times. The salt was harvested from the nearby mountain spring water, which is rich in minerals. The salt was highly prized by the Inca and was used for medicinal purposes, as well as for preserving food.

Location

The salt mines of Maras are located in the Sacred Valley, near the town of Maras. The mines are nestled in a steep valley that is fed by a small stream of mineral-rich water.

Method

The salt mines of Maras use an ancient method of salt harvesting. The water from the stream is diverted into hundreds of small terraced pools, which are then left to evaporate in the sun. As the water evaporates, the salt is left behind and can be harvested by hand.

Terraced Pools

The salt mines are made up of more than 3,000 small, terraced pools, which are maintained by local families. The pools are handed down from generation to generation and are considered a valuable community resource.

Production

The production of salt at the Maras Salt Mines is a slow process. It takes about a month for the water to evaporate and the salt to crystallize. Once the salt is ready, it is harvested by hand and sold in the local markets.

Tours

Visiting the Maras Salt Mines is a popular tourist activity in the Cusco region. It offers a glimpse into traditional salt production methods and allows visitors to explore the salt pans and learn about the local community’s way of life. The scenic beauty of the site, set against the backdrop of the Andes Mountains, makes it a captivating destination for photography and sightseeing.

If you plan to visit the Maras Salt Mines in Cusco, it is advisable to check the local regulations and access conditions, as they may vary. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to hire a guide or join a guided tour to gain a deeper understanding of the historical and cultural significance of the site.

See our itinerary for visiting the salt mines of Maras

Maras Salt Mines

Conservation

The Maras Salt Mines are an important cultural and environmental resource. The local community is committed to preserving the salt mines and the traditional harvesting methods. Visitors are asked to respect the environment and the local culture when visiting the salt mines.

In conclusion

the Maras Salt Mines are a unique and fascinating attraction in the Sacred Valley of Peru. They offer visitors a glimpse into the ancient history and culture of the region, as well as a chance to witness an unusual and sustainable method of salt production. A visit to the salt mines of Maras is a must-do for anyone visiting the Sacred Valley.