Your Complete Guide: Maras Salt Mines All You Need To Know

Nestled in the heart of the Sacred Valley, just an hour’s drive from the historic city of Cusco lies a hidden gem that captivates travellers worldwide—the Maras Salt Mines, also known as Salineras de Maras. This natural wonder boasts a rich history, stunning landscapes, and a unique cultural heritage that beckons visitors to explore its depths.

In the following pages, we will explore everything you need to know about the Maras Salt Mines, from its intriguing history to practical tips on making the most of your visit. Let’s Start!


Why Should Maras Salt Mines Be Your Next Adventure?

The Maras Salt Mines offer a mesmerising glimpse into the ancient traditions of salt harvesting, dating back centuries to pre-Inca civilisations. Here, visitors can witness the intricate network of terraced salt ponds, each owned and operated by local families who continue to employ traditional methods passed down through generations.

Beyond its historical significance, the Salt Mines of Maras boasts breathtaking natural beauty, with panoramic views of the surrounding Andean landscape. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, nature lover, or simply seeking a unique cultural experience, visiting the Maras Salt Mines is an unforgettable journey.

Origin Of Maras Salt Mines: Wari Civilization (500-1100 AD)

The roots of the Maras Salt Mines can be traced back to the Wari civilisation, renowned for its advanced engineering and agricultural practices. During their reign, the Wari people constructed the foundation of one of the most significant salt production sites in the Andes.

Integration into the Inca Empire:

With the rise of the Inca Empire, the strategic importance of the salt mines became evident. The Incas, known for their sophisticated infrastructure and economic systems, integrated the Maras Salt Mines into their vast trade routes and agricultural terraces.

Passing of Ownership to Local Families:

Over the centuries, ownership of the salt ponds transitioned into the hands of local families inhabiting the surrounding region. These families, deeply connected to Andean culture and tradition, inherited the responsibility of preserving and operating the salt mines.

Preservation of Ancient Techniques

Through generations of careful stewardship, local families have preserved the traditional methods of salt production. Despite the passage of time, these methods remain integral to the operation of the Maras Salt Mines, highlighting the enduring legacy of Andean craftsmanship.

Enduring Legacy

Today, the Maras Salt Mines showcase the creativity and perseverance of the Andean communities across the ages.

At this historic location, guests can delve into the vibrant fabric of age-old customs that endure in the Sacred Valley.

Location: Gateway to the Sacred Valley

Located approximately 32 miles from Cusco, the Maras Salt Mines are a captivating gateway to the Sacred Valley. This prime location ensures convenient accessibility for tourists exploring the region’s cultural and natural wonders.

Nestled among the grandeur of the Andes, the Maras Salt Mines provide visitors with awe-inspiring panoramic vistas of the surrounding scenery. Set against the Qaqawiñay and Qori Pujio mountains backdrop, the salt ponds create a picturesque scene that captivates the imagination.

Geological Marvel: Natural Saltwater Springs

The unique geography of the Maras region is characterised by natural saltwater springs, which emerge from underground reservoirs. These springs, enriched with minerals, feed into the terraced salt pans, providing the essential saline solution for salt production.

Ideal Conditions for Salt Formation

The high-altitude environment of the Andes Mountains, coupled with the presence of natural saltwater springs, creates optimal conditions for salt evaporation and crystallisation. As the water from the springs flows through the terraced salt pans, it undergoes evaporation under the intense Andean sun, leaving behind crystallised salt deposits.

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Terraced Salt Pans

The terraced salt pans, meticulously constructed over centuries, define the landscape of the Maras Salt Mines. These geometrically arranged pools cascade down the mountainside, creating a stunning visual spectacle showcasing the ingenuity of ancient engineering techniques.

Guests can appreciate how human ingenuity intertwines with the untouched Andean surroundings, making it a top spot for those craving natural splendour and cultural immersion.


Best Time To Visit Maras Salt Mines: Embrace The Dry Season

The optimal time to experience the wonders of the Maras Salt Mines is during the dry season, from May to September. This period offers visitors ideal weather conditions, characterised by minimal rainfall and clear skies, facilitating an unforgettable exploration of the salt ponds and their surroundings.

Weather Overview:

While the dry season promises sunny days, preparing for the cooler temperatures that prevail during mornings and evenings is essential. Dressing in layers ensures comfort throughout the day, allowing you to adapt to temperature fluctuations and enjoy visiting the salt mines.

Avoiding Crowds:

For a quieter visit amid Maras Salt Mines’ natural allure, consider coming during May or September, the shoulder-season months, for a more serene experience. During these periods, there tend to be fewer tourists compared to the busier months of June to August, creating a calmer ambience ideal for enjoying the magnificent scenery.

Planning: Check Weather Forecasts

While the dry season typically guarantees favourable weather conditions, it’s always prudent to check weather forecasts before embarking on your journey to the Maras Salt Mines. This ensures you are well-prepared for unexpected weather changes and can make the most of your visit without disruptions.


How To Get There: Your Transportation Options

Whether you prioritise convenience, independence, or personalised service, there’s a mode of transport suited to your needs.

1) Guided Tours:

For travellers seeking convenience and insight, joining a guided tour is popular. These tours provide transportation from accommodations in Cusco or nearby towns and ensure a hassle-free journey to the Maras Salt Mines. Accompanied by experienced local guides, you’ll receive valuable insights into the history and importance of the salt mines, enriching your journey with fascinating knowledge along the route.

2) Local Transport:

Those preferring a more independent adventure can opt for local transport options. Colectivos and public buses offer budget-friendly means of reaching the town of Maras from Cusco or neighbouring areas in the Sacred Valley. From Maras, travellers can arrange a short taxi ride or enjoy a scenic walk to the salt mines, immersing themselves in the picturesque surroundings.

3) Private Taxi Services:

Travellers desiring flexibility and personalised service may choose private taxi services. These dedicated vehicles offer the convenience of door-to-door transportation, allowing visitors to tailor their itinerary according to their preferences. While private taxis represent a higher-cost option, they provide unmatched comfort and convenience for those prioritising ease of travel.

Crafting Crystals: How Do Maras Salt Mines Work?

The salt mines of Maras hold a centuries-old legacy, tracing back to pre-Inca civilisations. These ancient methods endure today, utilising natural saltwater springs channelled into terraced salt ponds. These ponds, known as “cochas,” are marvels of human craftsmanship, numbering over 6,000 and owned by local families.

Skilled workers oversee crystallisation as the sun’s warmth evaporates the water, yielding pure salt. Unlike industrial operations, Maras prioritises sustainability and community stewardship, ensuring a thriving tradition for future generations.

about salt mines maras

Adventure Awaits: Things To See And Do At Maras

Step into a world of natural beauty and ancient traditions as we guide you through the must-see sights and activities at Maras.

1) Salt Harvesting Experience

Visitors can enjoy interactive experiences in salt harvesting, allowing them to get hands-on with the process. These tours often allow participants to interact with local salt miners, learning about their traditional techniques and the cultural significance of salt in Andean society. Travellers can try their hand at raking salt crystals from the ponds and gain a deeper appreciation for the labour-intensive process involved in salt production.


2) Scenic Walks

The terraced salt ponds offer scenic strolls with guided tours. Explore well-maintained paths and learn about geological formations and local ecosystems. Guides share anecdotes and folklore, enhancing the experience with storytelling.


3) Sampling Salt Products

Indulge your senses in the diverse array of salt products near the Maras Salt Mines entrance. Browse through outdoor shops offering a variety of souvenirs, including locally sourced salts and salt-based products. Please take advantage of the opportunity to taste the renowned Peruvian pink salt, known for its distinctive flavour and mineral-rich composition.

4) Shopping for Souvenirs

The onsite market near the entrance of the salt mines showcases a wide array of artisanal products made from salt and other local materials. Visitors can peruse handmade crafts such as salt lamps, sculptures, and textiles, each crafted with care by local artisans. Additionally, various gourmet salts flavoured with herbs and spices are available, allowing visitors to bring home a taste of the Andean highlands.


5) Cultural Immersion

In addition to salt production, the Maras Salt Mines provide a glimpse into the local Quechua communities’ everyday lives and cultural traditions. Visitors can engage in cultural exchanges with salt miners and artisans, learning about their indigenous practices and craftsmanship. Artisanal workshops may be available, where travellers can try their hand at pottery-making or weaving under the guidance of skilled artisans.

6) ATV Tours

Experience adrenaline-pumping ATV rides through rugged terrain near Maras Salt Mines. With expert guides leading the way, explore winding trails and scenic routes, immersing yourself in the stunning Andean countryside.

Quad-bike saltmines

7) Zip-Lining

Enjoy breathtaking views of the Andean landscape with zip-lining adventures near Maras Salt Mines. Suspended high above the ground, take in panoramic vistas of mountains, valleys, and salt ponds below, guided by professional instructors for a safe and exhilarating experience.

8) Horseback Riding

Discover remote trails and hidden valleys on horseback excursions near Maras Salt Mines. They are led by experienced local riders who journey through the rugged Andean landscape, uncovering picturesque vistas and memorably connecting with nature.


Travel With Inka Altitude: Your Trusted Guide

Experience the wonders of the Maras Salt Mines with Inka Altitude as your trusted guide. Our expertly curated tours offer a unique opportunity to explore this ancient site and its surrounding landscapes. Led by knowledgeable local guides from the Cusco region, our tours provide authentic insights into the history and culture of the salt mines.

We prioritise sustainable tourism practices, ensuring our visits contribute positively to the local communities. Immerse yourself in salt miners’ traditions and daily life, and savour delicious meals featuring authentic Andean cuisine made from locally sourced ingredients—Trust Inka Altitude to provide an unforgettable and responsible exploration of the Maras Salt Mines.



In conclusion, the Maras Salt Mines offer a captivating blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, making it a must-visit destination for travellers. Go on a journey with Inka Altitude to experience the wonders of this ancient site while contributing to local communities and preserving its heritage. Book your adventure today!

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