Moray and Maras Salt mines, Complete GUIDE

Moray and Maras Salt mines, Complete GUIDE

Moray and the Maras salt mines are two tourist sites that are located on the outskirts of Cusco. In these two destinations you can find a bit of history, religion and engineering. The Inca site of Moray is known for its impressive agricultural terraces and characteristic circular architectural designs. Here you can marvel at portals with intricate inscriptions in high and low relief, vestiges of ancient noble residences that still preserve the original urban layout.

What are the salt mines in Maras?

Maras has been a center of activity since pre-Inca times, initially serving as an administrative center and commercial exchange point thanks to its rich salt mines. Throughout the Inca and colonial periods, this town not only excelled in the salt trade through barter with neighboring regions, but also became an important meeting point for descendants of the Inca local inhabitants, acting as an administrative link with the Sacred Valley and the jungle.

Currently, Maras preserves its historical charm through traditional architecture and ancestral customs, becoming a tourist destination that captivates everyone who visits it.

Where are Maras and Moray located?

The archaeological site of Maras and Moray, located 48 km northwest of Cusco, in the province of Urubamba, extends from the Chinchero plateau. This area is located on an undulating plateau with elevations ranging from 3,384 meters above sea level at its highest point to 2,810 meters.

Maras is located on the highway that connects Cusco with Urubamba, just 15 minutes from Urubamba and one hour from Cusco, making it easily accessible to this remarkable legacy of the past.

How to get to Maras and Moray in Peru?

To get to Maras and Moray from Cusco, you have several options:

  1. Organized tour:

The easiest way to visit Maras and Moray is through an organized tour. Many agencies in Cusco offer half-day or full-day excursions that include transportation, a guide, and often other stops at nearby sites such as the Maras Salineras.

Moray is an agricultural research center from the Inca era

The archaeological site of Moray is located just 7 km from Maras, Moray is an unusual site that surprises with its circular agricultural terraces. Some may interpret it as an extraterrestrial message, similar to the ” crop circles ” that are seen in the fields.

During the Inca Empire , Moray functioned as an agricultural research center, with circular platforms creating 20 different microclimates, along with an irrigation system.

With a temperature difference of 15°C between the highest and lowest terrace, they were able to grow various plants from the Andes as well as tropical regions.

Tour to Maras and Moray from Cusco

The most convenient and easiest way to get to Maras and Moray is by hiring a tour from Cusco. This is what we did, since it also includes a guided tour.

As we mentioned before, you will find this excursion promoted in all the travel agencies in Cusco. However, we recommend that you research the agency’s reputation carefully before making a reservation.

After spending a month in Cusco doing volunteer work in Peru, we heard several stories where a lack of professionalism was common. Unfortunately, this is something we witness repeatedly. Don’t be guided by price alone, as in some situations, paying a little more can guarantee better service.

If you prefer to book online with complete confidence, here is the website we use to book excursions and guided tours, which can be very useful for your trip to Peru.

The Maras-Moray tour that they offer departs from Cusco at 8:30 in the morning and lasts approximately six hours. Includes pickup from your hotel, transportation, and a guided tour.

It is important to note that tours do not include entrance tickets. To visit Moray you will need to buy the Cusco tourist ticket, which will allow you to access other archaeological sites, museums and historical places in Cusco.

How much does the entrance to the Maras and Moray salt mines cost?

Entrance fees to the Maras salt mines and the Moray archaeological site are not included in the tours. Keep in mind that the price of access to Maras is only 10 soles , while Moray is included in the Cusco tourist ticket .

What to see in the Salineras de Maras

The Maras salt flats are one of the most impressive places you can see near Cusco. At 3,380 meters above sea level, there are 3,000 salt mines fed by an underground spring, which were already exploited in pre-Inca times.

They are pools of pink salt from the Andes, each one just five square meters, which create a spectacular landscape.

Curiosities about the Maras salt mines that caught our attention:

  • A curiosity is that the wells are not sold; They are transferred as inheritance from grandparents to grandchildren.
  • Maras salt is said to be better than sea salt and, along with Himalayan salt, one of the best in the world.
  • Furthermore, there are only four places in the world where pink salt can be mined, and the Maras mines are one of them.

Maras salt mines schedule

The Maras salt flats are available to visitors from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

What to carry in your backpack when you wear Moras y Moray

  • Hat or cap.
  • High protection sunscreen.
  • Comfortable clothes.
  • Shoes with good grip.
  • Depending on the season: a good raincoat.

What to see at the Moray Archaeological site

Moray is an Inca archaeological site located 3,500 meters above sea level, close to Maras and within the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Tips for visiting Moray

What might appear at first glance to be an amphitheater is actually an agricultural research complex built by the Incas in the form of terraces. They experimented with different heights to create up to 20 microclimates with temperature variations.

They explained to us that each terrace has a temperature difference of approximately 1 degree Celsius, which allowed them to grow corn, quinoa, Andean grains, kiwicha and up to 157 different plant species to study various crops. Each terrace was designed with structures that regulated hot and cold air, providing unique climatic conditions and functioning as an agricultural laboratory. Don’t you think it’s incredible?

Furthermore, if you look closely, the terraces have a shape reminiscent of a phallus. Water represents the masculine part, the earth symbolizes Pachamama (mother earth), and thus the Incas fused the masculine and the feminine in their architecture.

Access to the Moray terraces

It is easy to recognize the entrance, as you will see many buses parked nearby.

Best time to visit Maras and Moray

According to local residents, the best months to visit the salt mines of Maras and the terraces of Moray are the first months of the year, January and February, when the fields are green and the contrast is impressive.

Exploration of the Maras Salt Mines

The Salineras de Maras have more than 3,000 salt pools that are its main attraction. Each pool is a small white rectangle that contrasts with the surrounding mountains. You can walk along winding paths between the pools to see up close how the salt is collected. It is impressive how the salt water flows from a spring and is distributed among the pools through channels that date back to the time of the Incas.

Salt Extraction Process

Watching how salt is harvested is educational. Local workers, called “salineros”, use traditional techniques to extract it. After the water evaporates, they scrape the crystallized salt from the bottom of the pools and pile it up. It seems like a simple process, but it requires skill and knowledge passed down from generation to generation.

Purchase of Artisan Salt

In the Salineras de Maras, in addition to seeing how salt is produced, you can buy it directly from the producers. Maras salt is known for its purity and high mineral content, useful both in cooking and in therapeutic treatments. You can buy different types of salt, such as table salt and the famous pink salt, as well as products such as bath salts. Purchasing these products not only gives you a special souvenir, but also directly supports the local economy.

Photography in the Salineras de Maras

The landscape of the Salineras de Maras is ideal for photographers. In the right light, the salt pools glow in shades of white and pink, creating a stunning visual effect. The best times for photos are at dawn and dusk, when the light is soft and the shadows highlight the textures of the terrain. Plus, the contrast between the salt pools and the green of the surrounding mountains provides a spectacular backdrop for your images.

Moray Archaeological Site

Moray is one of the most intriguing and fascinating places in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It is made up of circular terraces that have baffled archaeologists and visitors alike due to its unique design and possible use as an Inca agricultural laboratory. In this article, we will tell you everything about Moray, from its history and meaning to what to see and do in this stunning place.

The Terraces of Moray

The circular terraces are the heart of Moray. These concentric formations descend towards the center, creating a striking visual effect. Paths surrounding the terraces allow visitors to admire their ingenious construction and design up close, taking advantage of the natural topography to create these perfectly aligned rings.

Microclimates in Moray

Moray stands out for its ability to generate different microclimates, used by the Incas to experiment with the cultivation of various plants. By adjusting climatic conditions, the Incas developed varieties of crops adapted to different altitudes and climates within their vast empire.

Exploration and Hiking

Moray is ideal for lovers of exploration and hiking. Visitors can walk the paths that surround the terraces and descend paths to the lower levels. This experience offers an up-close view of Inca engineering and panoramic views of the Sacred Valley.

Photography in Moray

Moray’s unique layout makes it a photographer’s paradise. The circular terraces with their different levels and shadows create a perfect visual spectacle to capture on camera. The best times to take photos are at dawn or dusk, when the light is soft and the shadows enhance the texture of the terrain.

How to Get to the Moray Archaeological Site

Visiting Moray from Cusco is an unmissable experience in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It is accessible and here we provide you with a detailed guide on how to get there:

Visit Moray from Cusco

There are several options depending on your budget and comfort preference:

Organized Tour: It is the most popular and easiest option. Many tour operators in Cusco offer tours that include transportation and a guide. These tours usually combine Moray with other nearby destinations such as the Salineras de Maras and Chinchero. Tours typically depart early in the morning and return in the afternoon, offering a complete and hassle-free experience.