Located northeast of the small village of Maras are the famous salt evaporation ponds known as Salineras de Maras. They consist of about 3000 small ponds located on the edge of Qaqawiñay Mountain. Every third they, they get filled up with salt water from a nearby river and once the water evaporates, the salt is left and every month, when there is enough salt, it gets picked up and granulated and sent out for the nearby population to consume.
Aside from being a natural resource, it is, let’s face it, beautiful due to the ponds themselves as well as the surrounding landscape, and hence, it has become also a tourist attraction that you should not miss when in the Cuzco area. It is considered part of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Traditionally, the salt ponds are available to anyone who wishes to harvest the salt and lives in the nearby community. New members of the community can become the owners of a salt flat, but must get the one that is located furthest away.
There are many tours available that will take you to the Salineras easily. However, if you prefer to do it the local way, here is how:
1) Take a combi bus from the terminal direction Cusco - Chinchero - Urubamba and request to be left at "Ramal Maras" (in Spanish: "Me puede dejar en Ramal Maras y darme aviso, por favor?" - this way they will let you know when you are supposed to get off). This ticket will cost you S./6
2) You can take a return "colectivo" bus which will wait for you at the Salineras for an hour and take you back for approximately 20-30 soles. Another option is to simply walk for about 45 minutes and get to the Salineras by foot - it is quite a nice area to walk in, however, there are little to no signals that will indicate where the Salineras are, so you must constantly ask for directions if you are not carrying a map. A good idea if you plan on doing this is to pin point the Salineras on Google Maps, the coordinates are: -13.299028, -72.155312