Peru Maras Salt Ponds Closed to Pedestrians
Effective June 2019, visitors will not longer be permitted to walk among the Maras Terraced Salt Ponds. Located in the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the historic canyon has a legacy of being part of the economy since Inca times. Naturally occurring salt drains through the canyon where it's collected in ponds, harvested, and sold by the families who manage their own pools.
Visitors are permitted at the parking lot and the adjoining market where they can view the mines from above. But they can no longer walk among the salty terraced pools. If time permits you can do a short 45 minute downhill hike to Pichingoto which is above the entrance to the ponds.
The reason for the ban is simple. Salt is harvested and sold as a commodity that supports the families who own the ponds. Whether intentional or accidental, ponds were being contaminated with trash, food waste and human pollution. On occasion, people would step into the ponds, crush the fragile edges or fall in.
As a result of this human interaction the salt became contaminated and unfit for consumption or sale. This product must be protected to maintain standards of hygiene necessary for any commodity that is meant to be consumed by people.