Salt ponds of Maras in Peru's Sacred Valley of the Incas
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Incan ingenuity. Salt ponds of Maras, Peru
Peru’s spectacularly beautiful Cuzco region is rich in Incan wonders. Take these ancient salt ponds, stepping down the mountain in Maras in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. You’ll find more than 6,000 of the little salt pans near here, many owned and mined by local families. Salt is still harvested from the ponds through evaporation, just as it was in the 1400s when the Inca created the pools. Production is, pun intended, seasonal. From May to October output is greater and of higher quality, and you’ll see crystallised salt with its subtle pink hue. Maras salt is prized for its flavour and rough texture, and people swear by its health properties, too.
It’s not far from Maras to Moray, another location where Incan ingenuity is on display. This time it’s in the form of grass-covered stone rings believed to have been test beds for crop experimentation. The soil is from a few areas in the region, and studies show that the rings were designed to create microclimates to see what worked best for different plants.