Mara Salt Mines, known in Spanish language as “Las Salineras de Maras” are one of Peruvian’s main attractions for tourists going to the Sacred Valley. If you decide to head to the Sacred Valley on your way to Machu Picchu or on your way back to Cusco, you usually visit Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Maras and Moray which are in the touristic circuit. You should definitely pay a visit to the famous Maras salt mines, located in the Urubamba province, approximately an hour and half from the popular city of Cusco. The salt mines have been fully operational from the pre-Incan times, it’s believed that they were constructed by the Wari civilization. Actually, we should call them salt pans since mines is not a proper word to describe them. They are thousands of pans filled with salt water which evaporates and leaves the crystallized salt in beautiful shapes. The members of the community in the area carefully scrape the salt crystals from the surface. Once all the crystals are scraped, the pans is once again filled with salt water. There are approximately 6000 pans in the area and they are managed by local families.
As for June 15, 2019 Peruvian MaraSal S.A., which owns the salt mines, has issued a letter to tour operators and Peruvian tourism authorities, about the access restrictions for tourists, that can no longer reach the salty water pools for preservation and health reasons. Contaminants, such as disposable plastic, paper, hair, cigarette stubs have been found in the ponds due to the increasing number of visitors and this could be extremely dangerous since the salt from the mines is consumed and sold in Peru and abroad. So if you are planning to visit this charming site, your tour will end at the viewpoint where you can take beautiful pictures of the mines but you can no longer have a walk through the salty pools.
Apart from the restrictions we can ensure that the visit is one of a kind, you will enjoy a charming scenery, you can stll see the salt ponds from the top and a have the opportunity to take stunning pictures. Before leaving, pay a visit to the souvenir shops where you can by Maras salt and bring it back home as souvenir, perhaps for your foodie friends. This salt is great for cooking, but it also has medical properties, it contains zinc, calcium, iron and magnesium and it is great to treat skin conditions and swelling.