Moray Ruins and Maras Salt Ponds, Sacred Valley

Moray Ruins and Maras Salt Ponds – Sacred Valley, Peru

Fiona Black – South America Travel Centre

The day started out with incredible views of the Sacred Valley and stunning mountains peaks. I was participating in an excursion to Moray Ruins and the Maras Salt Ponds, two of the highlights of the Sacred Valley.  As I was staying at explora Valle Segrado hotel this excursion was included in my stay and had a twist, instead of hopping on and off a bus and only seeing the views through a bus window, we were hiking 11 km from above the Moray Ruins, spending the day exploring the Sacred Valley and it’s towns before finishing at the Maras Salt Ponds. In my opinion this was the best way to visit these beautiful places.

Mountains in the Sacred Valley, Peru

There were five of us on this excursion along with our guide Marco. The explora van dropped  us at the starting point, which was at about 3,500 metres above sea level, where we began walking downhill on a trail used only by locals and explora guests. We enjoyed waving hello to farmers on their way to the market with their stock and admiring the adobe style farm houses scattered throughout the valley.

Walking down to Moray Ruins Sacred Valley
Moray Ruins

We were spoiled with excellent views of the Moray Ruins from our vantage point high above the ruins (most tourist buses drop visitors at the car park next to the site).

Moray Ruins, Peru

The Moray ruins are made up of terraces that were used by the Incas as a plant nursery. Each level of terrace has a micro climate allowing seeds to be developed for harsher climates at higher altitudes. This nursery was essential in ensuring all available land in the region could be used for farming, enabling the Inca people to thrive with ample food to feed its growing population.

Once in the ruins we could see the detail of the terraces and the stairs leading from one level to the next.

Moray Ruins, Sacred Valley, Moray, Peru

We continued along the path through waist high wheat crops.

Wheat fields in the Sacred Valley

We then wound our away along small pathways, through corn fields eventually emerging in a shady garden where we enjoyed lunch with wonderful views of the valley.

Lunch stop Sacred Valley
The Sacred Valley between Moray and Moras

Our appetites were soon satisfied with soup, salad, freshly cooked trout and sandwiches.  We continued onto a small town located between Moray Ruins and Maras Salt Ponds.

Town in the Sacred Valley overlooking valley, Peru

The town had numerous examples of Inca stonework as well as more recent colonial buildings with impressive archways above the doorways.

Town in the Sacred Valley, Peru

There was a perfectly manicured square in the middle of the town for locals to meet and enjoy views of the mountains.

Town in the Sacred Valley, Peru
Maras Salt Ponds

As the sun began to sink low in the sky we arrived at the Maras Salt Ponds. The salt is found in a local subterranean stream and emerges into a spring. The flow of the spring has been directed through a system of channels (built before the Incas) so the water runs down the valley through a series of terraced ponds.  As the water evaporates salt crystals form on the inner surfaces of the ponds walls.  When enough salt crystals have formed the pond owner will block the water flow and allow the pond to dry out then scrape the salt from the sides and bottom of the pond.

Maras Salt Ponds, Peru

Walking along a path through the ponds our guide pointed out the different stages of salt crystal formation. At a small stall near the entrance we were able buy some Maras salt for our shaker at home.

Maras Salt Ponds, Peru

At the end of the hike we were met by the explora van next to the river with refreshments  before returning to the beautiful explora Valle Segrado hotel.

explora Valle Segrado

explora offers excursions for all fitness levels. If you are not sure you can walk the whole way you can be collected by the van and taken to the sites. You will be able to discuss all the options with your guide.

For more information on staying in the Sacred Valley, tours in the region or staying at explora Valle Segrado contact one of our experienced consultants on email: or call 1300 784 794.

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