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Salt mines in Cusco for to make tour and travel

17 June 2014

While the salt mines are set up for tourism, complete with little shops selling bottled water, felt alligator slippers, and packaged spa sea salt, you may find that you are the only tourist there. The desolation of the place lends to the otherworldly feel that embodies Salar de Maras.

Built on the side of Qaqawiñay mountain, approximately 3,000 small wells fill with salt water from a natural spring above them. When the water evaporates, the salt left behind gradually solidifies, and is ready to be harvested. The salt is collected by hand by barefoot workers, who load the salt into sacks to haul down the hive-like structure.

The salt mines are northwest of the town of Maras, and are open to the public. The mine workers are more than happy to demonstrate ancient techniques, encourage participation, and allow tourists to take a taste. Maras is 29 miles from the city of Cusco in the province of Urubamba; expect a bit of a hike to get to the mines themselves.

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