Maras Salt Mines: the show that the pink salt wells give us

Terra Explorer
December 17, 2020

Do you like to discover new places, adventure tours, take photos of unpublished landscapes and enjoy architecture in all its forms? If you feel identified with one or more of these points, the Maras salt mines are the perfect place for you.

Within the Sacred Valley of the Incas, there is this magical place with more than 4,000 wells of different sizes filled with salt, where you feel like you are a giant walking in the middle of the city. 

Each of these wells has a minimum size of 5 square meters and 30 centimeters deep. The colors that this view gives you vary between white and brown tones.

The best part is that they are within a ravine in the middle of the Qaqawiñay hill that allows you to have a spectacular view of the Sacred Valley. Then, let’s see more about one of the best places to visit in Cusco.

 

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History of Maras Salt Mines

The salt mines of Maras, also considered a salt mine, has its origins from pre-Inca times, as several of tourist sites within Cusco. Later, they were left in charge of the Inca Empire, who used the wells to obtain salt for their food, and it is said that they were also used for mummification and other religious ceremonies.

Each one of the salt mines was given to different families from the Maras community so that they could work with them. 

Today, work continues in the same way, each family owns one or more of these wells, and they work together from production to commercialization.

 

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How to get from Cusco to Maras?

It is very easy to get to the salt mines, as it is a well-known touristic site in Cusco, and it’s located just 4 km from the town of Maras. The most common and easiest ways to get there are by bus or private car.

If you want to enjoy more the road and take advantage of the incredible surroundings that this place gives us, we recommend you join our bicycle tours designed by our team of experts in Terra Explorer.

On the way, you have to be vigilant, since once you reach the highest point before going down towards the salt mines, you are in for a great surprise with a panoramic view that will leave you breathless.

You can be interested in: Moray’s mistery, an impressive archeological site located in Cusco

Qualities and characteristics of Maras salt

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There are very few salts in the world that have the high quality of Maras salt (pink salt), which is found only in 4 places in the world. This salt has 3 different qualities that allow it to be used for different purposes. 

The so-called fleur de sel is the finest, which makes it the most expensive salt to acquire. Then comes the first salt, the one that is consumed in a massive way; and finally, the third salt, used for industrial purposes.

This salt has become very special throughout the world, due to its health properties. Some of them are that it is healing, anti-inflammatory, lowers blood pressure, among others. 

The best thing is that when you go to visit the salt mines, you will find a wide variety of products that contain this salt, such as different types of chocolate, salts flavored with herbs for culinary use and personal care products.

Where does the salt come from, and what is the process like? 

The Maras salt mines are fed by saltwater that springs from the Qaqawiñay mountain subsoil. The water that reaches them is evaporated by the intense sun that is there almost all year round, thus making the crystals of coarse salt sprout. Just after one month, the salt is ready to be harvested when it has reached 10 cm in height. 

This harvesting method was never changed throughout history; that means, that the production is communal, and they do not have any type of external participation, which makes it much more interesting and valuable.

 

where salt come from terra explorer

 

What does Terra Explorer offer you?

A mountain bike tour through one of the most beautiful places in the Andes of Cusco: The Maras area. Our adventure begins in the town of Cruzpata, from where we will ride a bicycle to the salt mines of Maras. 

On the way, we will go through fields of crops, and we will have a spectacular view of the snowy Verónica and Chicón. To make the most of the beautiful nature that surrounds us, we will enjoy a delicious picnic outdoors.

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If you are into adventure tourism, or you rather prefer to take a family bike ride, we adapt the tour and its duration to provide the perfect experience for everyone.

Now that you know a little more about the archaeological center of Moray, do you want to visit this incredible place?  In Terra Explorer, we have several itineraries for you, get in touch with us, and we will help you design the trip of your dreams!

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