“Inca cachi”, the “Incas Salt”, Salt ponds of Maras, Peru
What makes Maras salt so special is that the ponds in which it is collected are located in the mountains, at more than 3300 meters above sea level and at a distance of more than 400 km from the sea.
The presence of salt in these ponds is due to the ingenuity of the pre-Inca peoples who lived in the region.
Indeed, more than 2000 years ago, they diverted a stream naturally saturated with sodium chloride, and brought it using channels and small canals to come and flow into terraced ponds dug on the side of Qaqawinay mountain, about 50km far from Cuzco.
Once the water is trapped in one of the 3600 ponds, it evaporates leaving the salt ready to be harvested. Today, salt has no longer the same value as in Inca times, during which it was a real “White Gold”, but about 700 to 800 Quechua families organized into cooperatives continues to live off its harvest.