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Maras Salineras

The Inca’s Salt

Maras Salt Pans

This is still Cusco’s closest salt source, considering how far away the ocean is. There is a hot spring that naturally has a high salt content that flows out of the hillside, below which are hundreds of small ponds, called salt pans. Each pond is owned by a family and families take turns directing the flow of water to each pan. After filling a pan, it is left to dry until a fresh layer of salt is ready to gather.

Gathering salt at Maras.

This is one of the few places in the world where you can buy naturally pink salt, which is high in iron. You can also buy lots of flavored salts here and at any market in Cusco. There are smoked salts, salts mixed with herbs and salts mixed with different kinds of sweet or spicy peppers.

Flavored salts for sale at Maras

In the rainy season, the salt pans don’t dry and the whole area tends to look muddy (below). It’s still a cool thing to see but keep in mind your photos won’t have sparkly white salt looking like snow unless you visit in the dry season May–September.

Maras salt pans in the rainy season

Practical Info Practical Info icon

Open every day from 8am to 5pm. The Maras community charges a s/10 PEN entrance fee per person to visit the salt pans. It is not an archeological site owned by the government and therefore not included in the BTC.

The Sacred Valley & Around

Text © Heather Jasper

Images by Heather Jasper