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The mystery of the Maras salt mines

In the province of Urubamba in Cusco, Peru, a thousand-year-old legend is heard among the mountains that surround the town of Maras.

At 3000 meters above sea level and about one hour and a half from the city of Cusco we can find the salt mines of Maras, which exploitation is as old as the Tahuantinsuyo. Located on the slope of the hill, in the form of terraces or platforms, they are filled by underground water that flows down the ravine which origin of its source is still a mystery.

Panoramic view of the salt mines of Maras

The legend

Legend has it that the salty waters that flow from the mountain are the tears of Ayar Cachi; within the Inca mythology, this was one of the 4 brothers and sisters that originated the great empire of the Incas. God Wiracocha sent these brothers out of a cave to establish a great empire; Ayar Cachi threw a stone to a mountain forming a ravine, then his siblings, fearing his strength and power, locked him up with deceit in the cave, preventing him from being the founder of the empire. The tears of this character formed the pools that eventually the sun dried then forming the salt mines.

The natural scenery

The salt mines of Maras have more than 3000 pools of different sizes and dimensions, which are fed by salt water that comes from the subsoil of the Qaqawiñay mountain. The intense sunlight causes the water to evaporate, creating salt crystals that are then “harvested” with a piece of wood with which the salt is scraped. After this, it is placed in small baskets to eliminate the excess of water. After a few days, the water passage reopens and the process repeats.

Water channel that feeds the pools of the Salineras de Maras

In the salt mines of Maras you can find “pink natural salt”; it turns into this beautiful color from the natural elements of water coming from the mountain, including magnesium, calcium, potassium and silicon. There are only 4 places in the world where pink salt can be extracted and Maras is one of them, would you miss it?

Details you have to try

In addition, to the incredible panoramic view of the salt mines of Maras you will experience, you cannot miss a visit to the market. In this you can try different items that include the local product: chocolates, candies and even beauty products, as well as body creams.

How to get to the salt mines of Maras

To get to the salt mines of Maras we recommend you to do it with a tour operator or with your own mobility. There is no direct public transport, the operators leave Cusco every day at 9 am and take the Chinchero-Urubamba route to reach the community of Maras, deviate and enter the salt mines.

Inhabitant “harvesting” in the Salineras de Maras

The entry to the salt mines has an approximate cost of 10 soles per person.

A millenary and mysterious precinct awaits you. Do not miss the opportunity to enjoy an unforgettable experience!

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