The Circuito Maras tour of Valle Sagrado visits an incredible Inca agricultural laboratory, an ancient salt mine, and a traditional craft market. It leaves from Cusco at 9am and returns at 2:30pm. The cost is S/35, and tickets can be purchased in any tour office in the city.
The first stop on the tour was the town of Chinchero to visit a traditional craft market. Quechua women in local dress give examples of how they use natural products to make dyes for many of the products they make. The presentation takes about 15 minutes and everyone was given another 15 minutes to shop.
Next, we were taken to Moray. At first glance, it looks like an amphitheater. In reality, it is an agricultural laboratory built by the Incas in the 15th century. Admission for Moray is covered in the Boleto Turístico.
It’s quite an amazing place when the guide explains it. Each terrace slightly varies in temperature allowing for crops from several different regions to grow there.
Climbing in and out can be tricky for some. We had to use the original Inca stone steps protruding from the walls.
Salinas de Maras
Our final stop was at Salinas de Maras. These salt mines dating back to pre-Colombian times are set dramatically in the mountains overlooking the Río Urubamba. They were redeveloped by the Incas and are still in use to this day. Admission to the salt mines is extra.
A natural spring of salt water flows to the site from an unknown source to create the pools. There are over 3000 man-made salt wells where the water evaporates to expose the salt.