In the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Incas are the impressive salt mines of Maras, a natural treasure that captivates travelers from all over the world. In this detailed guide, we will explore every corner of this fascinating landscape, from its millenary history to how to plan your visit to make the most of this wonder.
Salt Mines of Maras
What are the Maras Salt Mines?
They are a set of more than 3,000 natural salt wells, distributed near the town of Maras. Each well, with a dimension of 5 square meters, is filled with salt water from a subway hypersaline spring that was formed 110 million years ago during the creation of the Andes Mountains.
Today, these salt pools are not only an impressive visual spectacle, but also a source of income for the local inhabitants, who continue the ancestral tradition of trading this salt in a manner similar to the Incas of old.
History of the Salt Mines
The roots of the “salt mines” in Maras are intertwined with the region’s ancestral past. From the peaks of the Qaqawiñay mountain, saline waters flow, evaporating under the intense sun, creating the iconic natural salt wells of Maras. But history does not stop at the geological; a mythical legend is also woven around these places.
The legend of the Ayar brothers tells how Ayar Cachi, one of the four brothers who founded Cusco, was locked in a cave by his own brothers. Ayar Cachi’s tears of anger, according to the legend, gave rise to the multiple pools of saline water, which would later become the Salineras de Maras. This mythical tale adds a touch of charm to the rich history of this place.
Where are the salt mines of Maras located?
Located 46 kilometers from the city of Cusco, in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the salt mines are located on the slopes of the Qaqawiñay mountain, at an altitude of 3,380 meters above sea level. Accessing them from the town of Maras involves a short 10-kilometer trip.
Discovering the Wonders: How to Get There and What to Do?
How to get to the salt mines of Maras?
From the city of Cusco, the route to the Maras Salt Mines covers 50 kilometers. You can take a bus to Urubamba and, from there, a collective cab to the detour that leads to the salt mines. Although some adventurers opt for this route, most choose the comfort of an organized tour, which includes full transportation.
At what altitude are the Maras Salt Mines?
Located at 3,200 meters above sea level, the salt pans offer not only a spectacular view, but also a testament to the ancient ability to adapt to Andean heights.
Unforgettable Experiences in the Salt Flats
What to do in the salt mines from Maras?
A visit to the salt mines promises unique experiences. You will be able to acquire “natural pink salt”, which gets its color from natural elements present in the spring, such as magnesium, calcium, potassium and silicon.
In addition, the possibility of collecting your own handful of salt or purchasing a jar from the local gift store adds a personal touch to your visit. Don’t forget to capture the magnificence of the landscape with your camera and, just 10 kilometers away, the archaeological complex of Moray offers another jewel of the Sacred Valley to explore.
Planning your Visit: Prices, Tips and More
Maras Salt Mines: Price, Tours and Practical Tips
How to visit the salt mines of Maras?
Entering the “salt mines of Maras” is affordable with a cost of 7 Peruvian soles (approximately 2.5 USD). Unlike many archaeological sites in Cusco, no additional ticket is required. Alternatively, you can opt for a tour to Maras, which also includes a visit to Moray.
What to bring to the Maras Salt Mines?
To ensure a comfortable experience, don’t forget to bring with you:
- Rain poncho.
- Hat or cap.
- Sun block.
- Non-skid shoes.
How much does it cost to visit the salt mines?
The entrance ticket to the salt mines costs 10 Peruvian soles. It is important to note that this entrance fee is not included in the Cusco Tourist Ticket, which covers other tourist destinations in the region.
Comparing Experiences: Maras and Moray
Maras and Moray: Comparison
Although the salt mines of Maras and the Inca terraces of Moray share geographical proximity, they present notable differences:
Salineras de Maras:
- Located 49 kilometers from the city of Cusco.
- They stand out for their natural salt pools.
- Affordable entrance fee of 10 Peruvian soles.
Andenes Incas de Moray:
- 54 kilometers from Cusco.
- Known for its circular agricultural terraces.
- Part of the Cusco Tourist Ticket.
The salt mines stand as a unique jewel in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. With its history rooted in time, dazzling landscapes and connection with ancestral legends, each visit becomes an unforgettable journey. Take advantage of this detailed guide to plan your experience and immerse yourself in the magic of the “salt mines”.