Peru: Maras Salt Ponds Transit


Locals at work tending to the Maras Salt Ponds, Peru

Locals at work tending to the Maras Salt Ponds, Peru

The Maras salt ponds were built in AD200-AD900 by the Chanapata culture, pre-dating the Incas. The terraces are known in Quechua as Kachi Raqay and are situated at an elevation of 3,000 meters (9,842’) above sea level. There are approximately 5,000 ponds, each belonging to a local family. The ponds were used to supply the entire Inca Empire as well as the Viceroyalty of Peru. The usual tourist visit at the entrance allows one to peruse just a small section fo the salt ponds. My daughter and I booked a private tour through cuscolocalfriend.com which enabled us to hike from a small village below the salt ponds into the lower section of the area, transiting the entire breadth of the ponds whilst witnessing the locals in action, prepping the individual ponds for the eventual harvesting of the salt. The entire complex is fed by a singular creek rife in minerals, and the salt can be harvested in essentially 3 levels: the top layer a pure white salt, the middle layer provides the pink salt, with the bottom layer naturally heavy in minerals providing the brown salt. This is truly a unique transit and well worth the hiking to experience the ponds without crowds of tourists. Highly recommended. Photos Here.