Exploring the Maras Salt Ponds

Exploring the Maras Salt Ponds

Located in the Sacred Valley, the town of Maras boasts an array of colonial buildings and structures. Despite its unassuming appearance, Maras is distinguished by its renowned Salt Ponds.

The Maras salt ponds have been cultivated and maintained since pre-Incan times, remaining an integral part of the lives of the residents in the Sacred Valley.

Comprising over 5,000 tiered pools, the salt ponds exhibit a meticulous network of holes, walls, and troughs, designed to ensure water distribution to each individual pond. The highly saline water springs forth from a source above the pools and meanders through various channels, eventually reaching the lowest pools in the valley. As the sun evaporates the water, a thick layer of salt crystallizes, which is then harvested by the pond owners for sale to tourists and locals across Peru.

A visit to the Maras Salt Ponds from Cusco makes for an incredible day trip, showcasing the harmonious collaboration of Andean communities within a communal system. Each salt harvester understands their role in ensuring an adequate water supply and salt production for the entire community.

Please note that as of September 2019, visitors are no longer permitted to walk around the salt ponds due to concerns about contamination. Instead, visitors are guided to a designated platform for viewing the salt ponds.

Independent Visit to Maras Salt Ponds

Maras is situated approximately 25 miles (40km) north of Cusco, accessible via a well-maintained paved road. To reach Maras, you can take a shared taxi from Cusco, costing around 20 Soles per person one way (£4/$6), followed by a short taxi ride from Maras town to the salt mines, which costs around £1/$2. Alternatively, you can opt to walk from Maras town to the salt ponds, which is approximately 4km and takes about an hour each way. Upon arrival at the Salt Ponds, there is an entrance fee of 10 Soles (£2/$3).

Estimated Total Cost: Approximately £15/$22

Guided Tour to Maras Salt Ponds

For a guided tour experience, you can arrange to be picked up from your accommodation in Cusco and driven to a village near Maras, where you’ll embark on quad bikes. From there, you’ll ride to the Salt Ponds before continuing your journey across the Sacred Valley to the Moray Ruins. Along the way, the guide will provide insights into the Sacred Valley and make stops at unique spots for additional information and photo opportunities.

Estimated Total Cost: £28 ($40) per person. Considering the inclusion of transportation from your accommodation, quad bike rental, and access to two famous sites in the Sacred Valley, this represents excellent value for a day trip from Cusco.


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