Moray Terraces and Maras Salt Mines | Peru7 min read
We only had 10 days for Cusco and around but we could easily extend our itinerary for a month! The Sacred Valley stretches from Cusco all the way until Machu Picchu, featuring Inca ruins, agricultural terraces, salt ponds and local villages. The gems like Pisac, Ollantaytambo or Urubamba are must-see!
Cusco is a perfect base to explore around and take day trips. We started our journey with Machu Picchu and a few days after we went to see Moray ruins and Maras salt pools. These two sites are in a very short distance from each other which makes easy to visit both in one day. With this in mind, we chose to travel on our own however, there is always an option to take a tour from Cusco.
In order to visit ruins and most of the sacred monuments in Scared Valley, you may wish to get Boleto Turistico (tourist ticket). It’s possible to pay individually for entries, especially if you are on the budget and not planning to visit many sites. However, it’s worth to get one if you are planning to visit at least three places. Tourist Tickets are available at the COSITUC Centre in Cusco and at the entrance to most of the ruins. The cost is 130S(~30£) and it’s valid for 10 days.
WHERE IS MORAY AND HOW TO GET THERE
Located 50 km from Cusco, Moray is fairly easy to get to. Our trip started at the bus station Avenida Grau where hopped on a colectivo to Urubamba 7S(~1.6£). We told the driver that we are going to Moray ruins and after one hour we got off at Maras Junction. From here, there is a short taxi ride to ruins 15S(~3.5£). If you get a chance to meet other people you can share expenses, just like we did. The price is negotiable and it’s possible to hire a taxi for both sites. In this case, knowing a bit of en español does magic!
When we arrived at Moray it looked like we entered an amphitheatre. The story behind the ruins sounds quite interesting. One theory says that circular terraces of Moray were built for agricultural purposes. Walk all the way down and you can feel how the temperature differs between the bottom and the top. Another theory is mentioning about an astronomical foundation of Moray. Maybe pre-Columbians created this structure to find out when the seasons are changing so they’d know when to plant, harvest, and store? It doesn’t really take long to realise Incas were masters beyond their time in architecture and science.
MARAS SALT POOLS AND HOW TO GET THERE
We came back to the car park only to realise our taxi driver was gone. Actually, it couldn’t be better! We ended up hitchhiking and arrived in Maras town on the back of the pickup truck. Along the way the majestic snow-capped mountain range immediately caught our eyes, we didn’t mind bumpy road at all. This type of landscape was a constant companion while sightseeing around Cusco. We got off in Maras town and took another taxi to Salineras. Boleto Turistico does not cover the entry fee to Salt Pools 10 soles(~2.3£)
The road to Salineras is so dramatic, especially you when you see pools from the top. Each square is owned by one family and pass down over the generations from more than 500 years. Nowadays people still use this place to mine salt but since it became so popular their main income is based on tourism. You wouldn’t like to get a small bag of pink salt as a souvenir? Watch locals working and take some of the most epic shots to your Sacred Valley collection!
Avoid the crowds and visit in the early morning or just before closing time around 4 PM. Hopefully, all tourist-packed vans are gone. Salineras is one of the most popular itineraries from Cusco and now we totally understand why!
Don’t hesitate to join one of the tours and hop on the van to get you to Cusco. On the way back we stopped at the small village. Chinchero is famous for some of the best textiles in all of Peru. Weaving tradition is an important part of Quechua culture. Colourfully dressed ladies are showing techniques of spinning, weaving and dyeing naturally with plants. You can browse in a good quality of products like hats, gloves, sweaters, ponchos or even a blanket. From Chinchero we got a colectivo back to Cusco 3S(~0.7£). Just wave at the driver while you are on the main road.
Please don’t forget to get a travel insurance. We can’t stress this enough.