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Maras & Moray

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A few kilometres before arriving at Urubamba, the road passes a turn-off for Maras, a small town about 5km from the main road. The town is very traditional and receives few visitors. Apart from seeing the town, there are several interesting attractions nearby, including the Salineras de Maras and the ruins of Moray.


The Salineras de Maras are about 10km off the road to Maras on a clearly marked, rough, unpaved road. These are pools on the mountainside that are used to collect salt. The soil in the Maras region has large amounts of salt in it, and a saline underground stream runs to the salineras. Here, the water is diverted into hundreds of pools, which are then sealed off, and through evaporation salt is left in the pools. Each pool is owned by a separate family, who collects the salt to sell. The sight of the salineras is truly unique, with hundreds of white terraces against the green mountains and the blue skies, and creates some wonderful photo opportunities. As the terraces are on the side of the mountain, salt stalactites form where the salt has dripped down.


Moray is a very different Inca site, about 7km beyond Maras, and was used as an agricultural experimentation centre. It consists of many levels of terraces in concentric circles at different elevations, and each different level was used to try out different crop strains. Due to the position of Moray, the temperature of the different terraces can vary significantly, creating very different climatic conditions in a very small area. Peter Frost cites a study by John Earls that recorded temperature differences of 15ºC between the top and bottom circles of the main depression, in an altitude difference of only 30m! The Incas took advantage of these conditions to try out different crop strains for agriculture at different altitudes and in different locations, and probably were able to develop new strains of crops for growth in new areas.

The site is very beautiful, and there are three depressions, the main one having 14 different levels. The views of the terraces with the snow-capped Salkantay in the background are wonderful.