Monday Morning Montage: Salinas de Maras, Peru

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During our recent trip to Peru we had some days prior to our Inka Trail trek to ourselves.  Not ones to just sit around the pool (we didn’t have a pool anyways), we decided to venture forth.  We also wanted to make sure we got the most out of our time.  When faced with limited time and much to do or see, we recommend hiring a local guide.  We hired a guide for a day to take us into the Sacred Valley and explore.  Of course, it also helped that the guide could do all the driving and I could actually enjoy the ride!

We put together a personalized itinerary and hit the road. We really enjoyed our guide David’s company and his English and knowledge of the area were great resources.  We make some small pitstops on the road, but our first major site to visit is Salinas de Maras.  We pull over on a curve in the long, dirt road to get out and admire a gorgeous view of the Urubamba River in the valley below us.  So beautiful is the view that we nearly overlook the opposite end of the valley, just to our left, and the panoramic view of the salt pans!  This site has been in use since Inka times for one purpose: the “farming” of salt.  A small, salty spring from deep in the mountain reaches the surface on the slopes above the pans.  Gravity and the sun does the rest.  The spring trickles downslope into the waiting pans where the sun evaporates the water, leaving the salt behind.  The backbreaking work of harvesting the salt is left to the locals from nearby Maras.  Maras is a town of approximately 3,000 people and David explains how the population of burros almost doubles that of people.  The burros assist with the heavy lifting of the harvested salt out of the valley.  With David’s assistance we are even able to walk among the pans and taste the salt.  This is something that neither of us has ever seen before and an experience that we won’t soon forget!

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