Maras, Peru: How an Instagram hotspot made our day

Before travelling to Peru, we searched the net for information and beautiful places. We found numerous spots and wonderful pictures. One of them was Maras. As an Instagram hotspot, we didn’t know what to expect. But it made our day.

On our trip through the sacred valley, we stop in Ollantaytambo. The vibrant city is full of tourists, shops and souvenir stores. In the tiny alleys we come across little channels full of water, which is echoing from the Inca stone walls. After visiting the Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo, we have one day off. We are looking forward to a half-day trip by taxi to Maras, Moray and Chinchero.

Chinchero – Summer residency of the Inca

Our taxi driver picks us up at about 8 am. We drive for about an hour through little villages and reach Chinchero as two of the first tourists of the day. Chinchero is now known as a summer residency of the Inca king. We enjoy the vast meadows on top of the agricultural terraces that are surrounding us. It is a beautiful landscape indeed, and we are soaking in the sun and the former Inca walls. The Spanish demolished the buildings and built a catholic church there. There is not too much to see, but I could sit down and enjoy the view all day.

Tickets: Make sure to take your “boleto turistico” to get access to the church and the ruins.

Moray – Avocado shaped terraces

In Moray you can stay as long as you want. As long as you cannot get enough of the avocado shaped terraces. They were used as a kind of research area by the Incas. Here, they planted different kinds of crops to find out, which vegetables are growing best in which area. Each step has a slightly different climate.

Tickets: Make sure to take your “boleto turistico” to see the terraces.

Maras – Salt as far as you can see

When we finally arrive our desired destination, we look down on a vast field of salt pools. They glisten in the sun and show colours from dark brown to a beige and finally to sparkling white (I have no idea what’s going on with Pinterest and Instagram pictures showing pink, blue or green ponds … ). It is amazing! There are a couple of people in the area but not too many … so we are going down. We have to pay 10 Soles each (about 3 Euros) to get access and our driver waits for us in the parking lot. We walk down and our mouths drop open. The salt terraces have been moulded into the mountain and the salty water has been routed through the terraces for hundreds of years. There are about 3,000 of those salt ponds where locals harvest salt in the traditional way. We can see them work and shove salt to quite high piles. Locals are very proud of their salt, which is known as Maras salt. You can get it in tiny or big bags already flavoured for meat, vegetables or fish.

We take hundreds of pictures, as there are just few people there. We can see a big bus arriving, so we hurry up and take pictures from all possible angles. The sun is burning down – I have no idea if the salt is reinforcing the effect of sun heating down on a mountain, but at least it feels that way. We do not dare to touch the water in the ponds, and when you think about it, it’s a good choice not to. Even if you don’t want to buy salt there, the view is beautiful … and above all, it is another Inca treasure to keep.