The Maras salt mines are fed by a natural spring that passes through huge underground salt deposits. The Incas built these pools to collect the salt water and then evaporate off the water to leave the salt behind. The sheer enormity of this area can’t be captured in a photo, unless you zoom way in on those squares and see the people in there harvesting the salt.
Checkerboard patterns of the many salt flats at the Maras salt mines in Peru. For scale, if you look closely at the middle of the photo you can see 2 workers harvesting salt.
Up and Down
The salt flats at the Maras salt mines in Peru terrace up and down the entire hillside. A naturally salty spring feeds the site, and the water flow is controlled by opening or closing (with a rock) an opening into each salt pond. Once a pond is filled with salty water, the flow is stopped, the water allowed to evaporate, and the workers scrape out the deposited salt and start over again.
The colors of the salt harvested from the Maras salt mines varies from white to light reddish to a brown tan, depending on the skill of the harvester.
Fed by a natural spring that comes up through huge salt deposits deep underground, this channel high on the hillside in Maras is the primary feeder from which all the water for the salt pools originates.