Salt mine of the Incas
Salt Mine of the Incas
Cusco is much more than an archeological destination, usually when we travel to Cusco, we visited many archaeological sites and terraces as Sacsayhuaman, Moray, Pisac, Ollantaytambo, etc. Cusco travel combine nature, relaxation, culture, food, etc. The Salt mine of the Incas is a unique destination and simply has a simply beautiful spectacular scenery!
Salt mine of the Incas are approx. 3000 small wells where salt water coming from the mountain “Qaqawiñay” during the dry season (June to October) is stored. The wells are filled with water every three days, the sun evaporates water is salt. The people in the community collect salt and stored for later sale. These mines already exploited since Inca times. Now the origin of salt water is a mystery.
At least that was the story told by the guide and I buy it lol. Apparently it is not known exactly is inside the mountain Qaqawiñay if a gap in the ocean that was trapped in the Andes, or other theories. According to legend, the salt is formed from the tears of Ayar Cachi (one of the brothers Ayar founder of Cusco and the Inca Empire Manco), who dies in tears because she could not found the empire. The tears were dried by the sun, forming salt flats with pinks.
Besides being a marvel amidst nature and scenery it is also about culture and tradition. For thousands of years salt has been produced there in an artisanal form. Using ancient techniques this much valued product is derived from underground water and becomes something that can go to market and impress the world.
In Quechua salt is called cachi, People go to ancient stories in Quechua to explain the origin of this amazing place. They say that the salt ponds derive from the legend of the Ayar brothers and sisters which is the origin tale of the Incas. According to the story the rebel and bellicose brother, Ayar Cachi, was converted into a mountain.
It is said he broke into outrage and sorrow when he found out his brother Ayar Manco had become the head of the Inca Empire. From his tears inside the mountain comes the salty water that when dried in more than 300 ponds leaves the salt of maras.
From generation to generation our ancestors and now modern people collect this honored pink salt. Its thick grains and rustic look, so different from the normal kitchen salt, do not go through a refining process. They are only obtained by natural evaporation due to the sun and its effects.
How to get there?
No public transportation is blown directly into the salt. I recommend hiring a taxi or else the Maras-Moray tour selling most agencies. Half day tour. The good thing is that it includes a visit to Moray: Inca Archaeological Laboratory
Admission is: 10 soles per person.