Salt Mines

The Salt Mines of Maras

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The Salt Mines, or, “Las Salineras” are literally salt mines derived from the flow of a naturally salinated river creek between Ollantaytambo and Cusco. While they were, in typical Inca fashion, improved upon and made beautiful, it is likely they predate the Incas by hundreds if not thousands of years.

From one source, a small trickle of water coming out of the mountain above, a series of gravity-fed distillation pools have been built, each just a few centimeters lower than its predecessor.  This allows a steady but very slow flow of salt water to flow over its large, flat areas and dry out into pure sodium chloride – ordinary table salt.

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There is a 7 sole entrance fee and the site is not part of any Tourist Ticket. They do not accept credit cards, US dollars, Euros, or any other currency. There are a variety of ways to get here, and almost everyone does (or should) them in conjunction with the nearby Inca site of Moray. It is a pretty steep uphill walk if coming from the main Ollantaytambo-Urubamba highway, the other option is to arrive from above, leaving from the colonial town of Maras, famous for its spies in Inca times and also for its colonial, ancient doorway headers. Look above the drab doorways as you drive through and you will see some great examples

See the map below for details, you can get to “Ramal” (the turnoff to Maras) via public transport but from there you will have to hire one of the many local (and relatively inexpensive) taxis that wait there.  Afterwards, you can pretty easily hike down 45 minutes back out to the main Ollantaytambo – Urubamba highway. Other popular methods of visitation include going the whole trip in private taxi or else on mountain bike.

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