After the llama farm, we were back on the Road to Machu Picchu with a pit stop at a Salt Mines. We visited the salt ponds of Maras which is right outside of Cusco and part of the Sacred Valley.
It’s a bumpy ride up the mountains and the roads are narrow before arriving at the co-op of salt miners. However, we stopped to get an aerial view of the salt mines.
Once we arrived, it was a 5-minute hike to the entrance of the mines.
And the view is spectacular
Beautiful ponds of salt are everywhere and the size of each miner’s pond is according to the size of their family.
The water supply to the pond comes from the Qoripujio spring; which is really narrow and runs down the rocks and into the ponds. The sides are encrusted with thick layers of salt and if you put your hand in it, once it dries your hand will be salty (and ashy).
As the stream of water flows into the ponds and fills them up, the water is left to evaporate until the pond is dry. Once the pond gets crusty, they scrape off the salt, put it in a container and drain it. This type of salt (in moderation) is way better than the white table salt we are used to eating as this salt is rich in minerals such as magnesium, iron, calcium, and zinc.
After you go through the ponds and come back out toward the entrance, they have set up individual stalls. The locals sell all of their gourmet salts and other salted snacks such as bath salts and scrubs. This is a great way to support the local economy because your purchase will go directly to the individual. In addition, the entrance fee goes to the co-op of salt miners and their families. This money allows them to buy the tools and equipment they need, which they share with each other so everyone can prosper! They export Peruvian pink salt to a few other countries and it sells online for way more than what they sell it for there! So be sure to purchase on site for a good deal!
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