Salinas de Maras

Salinas de Maras is a mine complex and salt-making field built since pre-Inca (1400s) at an altitude of 3,380 meters in Sacred Valley along the slopes of Mount Qaqawiñay in the Urumbamba Valley, Maras Town, Cuzco Region, Peru. A network of 3,000 shallow ponds to accommodate hypersaline underground springs and is still harvested by local communities during the dry season from May to November.

Xvlor Salinas de Maras is salt-making field since pre-Inca in Sacred Valley

Xvlor.com Salinas de Maras is salt-making field since pre-Inca in Sacred Valley

Salinas de Maras produces a natural pink salt that gets a beautiful hue from trace elements in springs, including calcium, magnesium, silicon, and potassium. Mining is located above the Maras Formation in the Andes where the source of the spring comes from a halite deposit formed 110 million years ago.

Geologists say millions of years ago the oceans covered most of Peru. During the Andean orogeni, marine waters are trapped in the interior and through evaporation form a halite deposit which is now a spring source of hypersaline and earth salt.

The flow is directed to an elaborate small duct system so water runs gradually into several hundred ancient storied pools. Almost all pools are less than four square meters and inundations exceed thirty centimeters. All must be shaped into polygons with carefully controlled water flow and monitored by workers.

Water evaporates from the sun-heated pool and becomes saturated with salt deposits in various crystalline sizes onto the inner surface of the walls and at the bottom of the pond. The pool guard then closes the water-feeder notch and lets the pond dry.

Within days the guards carefully erode the dry salt from the sides and bottom to put it into the appropriate vessel, reopen the water supply, and remove the salt. The color of salt varies from white to brown to reddish or brownish and depends on a worker's skill.

The salt mine has traditionally been available to anyone who wants to harvest salt and salt pool owners should be members of the cooperative. Usually a lot of unused salt pools are available for planting. Every prospective salt farmer just needs to find an empty pool, consult with local informal co-operatives, and keep the pool properly in the communal system.

www.xvlor.com Salinas de Maras is salt-making field since pre-Inca in Sacred Valley

Xvlor Salinas de Maras is salt-making field since pre-Inca in Sacred Valley

Location: Maras Town, Cuzco Region, Peru.

Routes and public transport: Flights to Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cusco City, then take a bus or taxi to Maras Town for 40 kilometers.

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