Salineras de Maras also called Salinas de Maras is one of the most fascinating places we have seen in Peru. It’s hard to believe that these thousands of salt pools cascading down a valley are being used until today for salt extraction. Salineras de Maras is a perfect day trip from Cusco and an amazing photo opportunity for every creative soul. During our 4 weeks exploring Peru, we have seen many unique places and the Salineras de Maras belongs to one of the most beautiful places in South America. In this post, you can find it out all you need to know about visiting Salinas, how to get there and additional tips from us.
SALINERAS DE MARAS: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
If you wonder, why do you need to travel one hour from Cusco to learn about salt, just have a look at this photo. Isn’t this place just mind-blowing? Now we got you. We knew, that you want to go visit as well.
It’s unbelievable that these salt pools are being used for salt extraction since Inca times. Ready to find out more?Incredible view on salt pools
WHAT ARE THE SALINERAS DE MARAS?
The Salineras are 3000 salt pools carved into the mountain which makes it a natural salt mine. The reason why this place is used for salt is because of an underground spring. This spring has been bringing the saltwater into this valley for almost 110 million years.
Ancient Incas were the ones who built Salineras de Maras in 1400 and they were the ones who started to extract salt here. These colorful uneven steps of pink salt are creating incredible landscape and are the perfect spot for photos. Nowadays, Salineras de Maras is owned by a community of many families. These families do pretty much everything and are responsible for the entire production of salt.
Want to learn more about the Incas? Then make sure to read
“The Last Days Of The Incas” by Kim MacQuarrie. A must read when visiting Peru.
WHERE ARE THE SALINERAS DE MARES LOCATED?
The Salina pools can be found on the slope of Qaqawiñay Mountain in the Sacred Valley. It is located at 3.380 meters above sea level. The Salinas de Mares are located only a one hour drive from Cusco. If you like, you can also stop at the village called Maras, which is an easy 10 km drive from the Salinas.
If you are staying in Cusco and looking for another awesome day trip, make sure to go to Rainbow Mountain. We wrote an entire guide to Rainbow mountain with all our tips and useful information for you to have the best day.
HOW IS SALT MADE?
It is quite simple. These shallow pools are the process of evaporation. Thanks to a natural spring that fills up the pools with salty water full of minerals. Water from the spring flow runs into a pool. Then the pool is left untouched until the water evaporates and all that is left are the salt crystals, which later on will be scrapped and collected into big sacks. Then, locals carry them to their homes and make a variety of salt products.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO SEE SALINAS DE MARAS?
There are a couple of ways how you can get to Salinas De Maras. Depending on you, your budget and level of exploration, of course, you can get to Salinas on our own or with a tour.
READ MORE: THE LIST OF 15 MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES IN SOUTH AMERICA
ON YOUR OWN
If you decide to go on your own, it can be a bit challenging, but not impossible. From the bus station in Cusco, you need to take a bus to Urubamba. Ask the bus driver to tell you to know when to get off. From the bus station, look for a taxi which will take you to Salinas. It is approximate 16 km to Salinas de Maras from Urubamba. As a tourist it’s not very hard to look for a taxi, usually, they find you first.
UBER OR TAXI FROM CUSCO
We solved it quite easily and took an Uber. It was very affordable and cheaper than a tour. However, the only problem was the internet connection. There is no reception at Salinas. That is why the Uber driver might not be able to finalize the ride and Uber will charge you more. We reported an issue to Uber immediately when we had internet and got our money back the same day.
WITH A TOUR
The best thing about taking a tour to Salineras de Mares will be that you are picked up at your hotel, which is very convenient. Also, most of the tours include a stop at the famous Inca landmark called Moray. Moray is only located 10 km from Salinas and it is worth a visit as well. We haven’t visited it, which is a perfect excuse to come back to Cusco.
Have a look at this day tour which will take you to Salineras de Maras and Moray as well.
Other tours to consider:
DO YOU NEED TO BOOK A TOUR IN ADVANCE TO SALINAS DE MARAS?
If you want to go on a tour, you can easily book it a day before you decide to go to Salinas de Maras. You can ask your hotel to book it for you, or just walk around in Cusco and you will find many tourist offices.
WHEN ARE SALINERAS DE MARAS OPEN?
Salinas de Mares are open every day from Monday till Sunday and the opening time is from 8 – 5 PM. We arrived at midday and it wasn’t busy at all. Salinas is not a big site, so the traffic is filtering pretty quick.
HOW MUCH IS THE ENTRANCE FEE TO SALINAS DE MARES?
If you join the tour, you do not have to pay any fees as they are included. But if you go on your own, you will have to invest 10 Soles to enter.
Make sure to bring cash, as you can’t pay for the entrance with your credit card, the same holds true for the products in the local shops.
WHAT CAN YOU DO IN SALINAS?
Salinas de Maras is not a very large site. However, you can easily spend 2 hours wandering around. Here you can learn all about how ancient Incas built this place and how they started to make salt. You can walk around and just admire thousands of small pools carven into the mountain. It’s a perfect place for photos so every creative soul will be in heaven here. You can take a tour to learn how locals nowadays make their products as well.
Also, Salineras is the place where you can pick up your own batch of natural pink salt and buy it from the locals directly.
INTERESTING FACT: The reason why the salt is pink is that the spring water contains magnesium, calcium, potassium and silicon.Incredible view on pink salt mines
WHAT PRODUCTS LOCALS MAKE IN SALINAS
- COOKING SALT
- BATHING SALT WITH MANY DIFFERENT SCENTS
- SMALL SOUVENIRS
- CLOTHES LIKE PONCHO, HATS, GLOVES
WHAT TO BRING TO YOUR TRIP TO SALINERAS DE MARAS?
- HAT AND SUNGLASSES
- SUN CREAM (USE GIGI10 for 10% off)
- RAIN PONCHO
- WARM CLOTHES
- WATER (Use this bottle to filter water and reduce plastic)
- AND CAMERA
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT SALINAS?
We visited Salinas in May, which is still winter months in Peru. Traveling to Peru in winter months (dry period) is very popular as you will have mostly blue skies, sunny weather and the temperatures are mild. From May to October, it is mostly dry, without much rain. However, be aware that the nights are cool.
And if you are interested in visiting north Peru, which we highly recommend, make sure to check the area of Huaraz. We wrote a full guide on how to hike Laguna Paron and Laguna 69. Spoiler: one of the most beautiful lakes in Peru with turquoise waters.
WHERE TO STAY IN CUSCO?
There are many options for accommodation in Cusco fitting to everyone’s budget. Check all hotels in Cusco here.
Would you like to visit Salineras de Maras? Let us know in the comments.
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