Image of Maras, Peru salt evaporation ponds in Peru. Photo by Eduardo Libby

Salt, the Inca way

Ever since I first saw a picture of the salt evaporation ponds at Maras, Perú I said to me: “I have to see that some day.”

I got my chance during a trip to Cuzco a few years later…

Image of the road from Cuzco through the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Photo by Eduardo Libby.
The road from Cuzco through the Sacred Valley of the Incas is a wonderful drive.

The ponds are located in the Inca Sacred Valley and are close to the small town of Maras. Warm, salty water flows from a  small opening on the hillside and is directed trough a small, about 30 cm wide, channel into a complicated network of smaller feeder channels to the ponds. The ponds are built on a slope and the water slowly flows from the top pond to the next one through  small openings on their sides.

Image of Maras, Peru salt evaporation ponds in Peru. Photo by Eduardo Libby
The very graphic pattern of the Maras, Peru salt ponds, with the feeder channels running from the top.
Image of a Maras, Peru woman selling baskets. Photo by Eduardo Libby
A woman from Maras wears a traditional hat and sells skilfully woven baskets to the visitors.
Image of Maras salt evaporation ponds in Peru. Photo by Eduardo Libby
Two persons walking along the main feeder channel give a sense of scale to the Maras salt evaporation ponds.

As the water evaporates, crystals of salt slowly form and local people collect the reddish to brownish salt in a way that has not changed since Inca times.

Do you know of similar places elsewhere? I would love to see them too.

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