Nearing the end of a particularly hard day of hiking in the Andes, our group came across these interesting and colorful terraces, which we learned are salt pans.
The town of Maras lies at 3370 m (about 11,000 ft) elevation, approximately 40 km (25 miles) north-west of Cusco. The town is best known for these salt evaporation pools, the Salinas de Maras (Maras salt pans) which are less than a kilometre north of town.
The salt pans probably are more than a thousand years old (no one knows when they were first used) and are still being actively worked. Salty water appears from a natural spring in the side of the mountain and is diverted through a network of channels into these shallow terraced ponds. Each salt pond is managed by a different family from Maras. When the pan becomes supersaturated the flow of water into the pond is closed off and the water allowed to evaporate, leaving behind salt crystals which are then harvested. The salt is carted to Maras by donkeys where it is collected and sold cooperatively.