For our final full day in the Sacred Valley of Peru we booked a private tour to the Inca agricultural terraces at Moray and the salt pans at Maras.
The tour included being picked up by a guide and a driver at our hotel after breakfast and being driven on a dirt track to the agricultural site at Moray. Here we had plenty of time to explore the site, before hiking towards Maras with the guide. The driver went on ahead and set up a picnic lunch, after which we continued to Maras and walked down through the salt pans. The driver then picked us up again and drove us back to the hotel.
The concentric terraces at Moray are a wonderful sight. Like the other Inca sites we visited the scale of the structures is hugely impressive.
It is thought that the terraces were used for growing different crops, with each level having its own microclimate. The temperature at the bottom is significantly warmer than at the top.
After exploring the atmospheric site, we set off on a gentle hike, with great views of the Andean mountains.
The view of the snow-capped Mount Veronica was particularly spectacular, gleaming white against the blue sky.
When we met up with the driver he had set up a great picnic lunch for us – and what a view!
Salinas de Maras
After lunch we continued to the salt pans at Maras. A truly remarkable sight. Again it is only when you are actually there that you appreciate the scale.
The salt pans were developed in Inca times. The salt comes from a hypersaline spring, which has been diverted into a huge network of shallow interconnected pools. As the water in the pools evaporates the salt crystallises and is collected. Minerals in the spring create the various colours.
I have read that there are over 3000 pools. Walking down through the complex on narrow paths between the pools, with little channels and cascades all around you, is a very strange but fascinating experience.
Many tour companies and local guides organize tours to Moray and Maras. An example is Amazonas Explorer who conduct a tour including a hike like the one described. Viator run a range our tours in the Sacred Valley, including ones to Moray and Maras.
If you go on one of the tours you will need a ticket to get into Moray. (A single visit ticket can be bought at the site, but the Boleto Turistico del Cusco, which is valid for 10 days and includes many sites in Cusco and the Sacred Valley, is much better value. This can also be bought at the entrance, or at any other included sites as well as in Cusco.) There is also a small entrance charge at the Salinas, which is not covered by the BTC.
A visit to atmospheric Moray and the impressive Salinas de Maras really makes you appreciate the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Inca people.
For more information about travelling to and within Peru please see the Practicalities page.
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