There are salt mines located about a 10 minute drive from Ollantaytambo, my town in Peru. Technically, the town they’re located in is Maras, but the mountains take up so much room that they’re more like Maras-adjacent. However, these salt mines are so famous in Peru that in the store we have bars of chocolate made with specifically “sal de Maras,” meaning salt from the salineras profiled here.
I went with a friend, and it was a stunning sight. The immense amount of salt actually looks kind of like ski hills, and the tons of salt they hold is mind-blowing. Apparently the deposits were formed when a lot of water was moved to the area a long time ago. The piles of crystals are a unique attraction in the area, and make for a great way to spend a few hours. Luckily, the long walk there is also memorably beautiful for visitors of all ages..
How to Get There From Ollantaytambo
- Go to the main food market, a big building off of the main plaza; just ask around as to where the “mercado” is.
- There will be a couple of vans waiting in front of the market to pick up people to take to the town of Urubamba or all the way to Cusco— take one of these vans, called “collectivos,” and tell them that you are headed to Terrabamba. They’ll let you know when your stop comes up, or if you want to be super-clear, tell them that you are headed to Las Salineras.
- After 10-15 minutes, the driver will tell you to get out, you’ll pay him s/.1,20 ($0.40) a person for the ride, and you will head down the path on your immediate right. You’ll pretty immediately pass over a bridge, and at the end you’ll pay another s/.10 ($3.25) a person to get in. They will stop you to ask for payment; workers are wearing uniforms. It is a 20-40 minute hike to get there, with some pretty hard uphill, but some beautiful spots to stop and catch your breath.
- You may be tempted to stop as soon as you see the salt mines themselves, but continue on up and walk over the salt mines until you reach some stores. The best views are from up there, and you can also buy some cute souvenir bags of salt from there. But beware, it is still just salt. I also snagged some artisanal soap and a Peru shot glass for my collection.
- Now enjoy the photos.
Once you finish the hike, you’ll start to see the mines, or deposits.
Outside of the mines, on the walk back? Still stunning. Enjoy the sunshine & views after a visit to the gift shop.
Would you visit a salt mine? HAVE you visited a salt mine?