Salt mines of Maras

Hello bloggers, today we will talk about one of the natural and cultural wonders that you cannot miss.  

OVER VIEW

The Maras salt mines are a complex of salt water evaporation terraces located in the Cusco region of Peru. This ancestral site has been used for salt production since pre-Inca times. It represents an important part of the cultural and economic heritage of the area.

They are located at 3,000 meters above sea level and approximately 1.5 hours from Cusco. These are salt mines and their exploitation is as old as the Tahuantinsuyo.

Location

Located on the hillside, in the form of terraces or platforms, they have more than 3,000 pools.

Of different sizes and dimensions, which are fed by salt water that springs from the subsoil of the Qaqawiñay mountain.

The remarkable thing about the Maras Salt Pans is their impressive visual landscape. The white terraces contrast dramatically with the mountainous surroundings of the Andes, creating a picturesque and unique scene.
These salt pans are not only historic and economic, but also stand out for how the local communities have preserved and utilized them.
The salt mines of Maras offer cultural authenticity and the unique opportunity to witness an ancient Andean production method. This place has become an attractive tourist destination that combines history, nature and the daily life of the local communities.

How are the salt mines

They are a set of pools built by the ancient Peruvians and total more than 3000 in total. They are embedded in the form of staggered terraces on the slopes of the Qaqawiñay hill. The pools measure about 5m2, are very shallow and together occupy an approximate area of 1500m2.

The ponds made with mud forming dikes that delimit each other. Fed by a pre-Inca canal, these salt ponds use equitable irrigation to distribute the water efficiently.

It is amazing to see how the pools and the water circulation system are still intact and in perfect working order to this day.

Salt production process in the salt mines of Maras

The ancestral Inca process persists: washing the pools with salt water, filling them from the stream just 5 cm above the ground.

The water is then evaporated for three days and this process is repeated for a whole month. A 10 cm high sediment is then obtained, which is extracted by breaking, scraping and straining to avoid impurities.

This process results in three different qualities of salt. Table salt for domestic use and salt for industrial or agricultural use. Each well produces approximately 150 to 200 kilos of salt per month.

How to get there

To get to the salt mines of Maras, it is recommended to do it through a travel agency (Peru VIP Travel), since there is no direct public transportation to the area.

The operators leave daily from the city of Cusco in the mornings and take the Chinchero-Urubamba route in the direction of the community of Maras, with a small detour to the salt mines. Admission to the site costs approximately 20 soles per person.

The best time to visit is during the dry season, between April and October, when clear blue skies prevail. In this season of continuous light, the locals work in their salt pans, extracting salts from the pools thanks to the constant solar evaporation.

Important facts about maras salt mines

Historical Antiquity: The salt mines of Maras have a long history dating back to pre-Inca times. Used for salt extraction for more than 500 years.

Terrace System: The complex consists of thousands of evaporation terraces built into the mountainside. These terraces form a unique and spectacular stepped landscape.

Natural Spring: The salt water comes from a natural spring located in the surrounding mountain. The water flows through carefully designed channels to the evaporation terraces.

Traditional Method: Despite technological advances, local communities continue to use traditional methods for salt extraction.Process transmitted from generation to generation.

Photogenic Landscape: The visual contrast between the white terraces and the green Andes mountains creates a photogenic and picturesque landscape. It is a popular place to capture stunning images.

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