The Maras Salterns

Outside of the town of Maras in the Sacred Valley of the Incas in Peru sits this unique-looking hillslope. 

These are the Maras salterns or salt evaporation ponds. There are several thousand evaporation ponds on this hillslope. These manmade ponds have been used as a source of salt for nearly 2000 years, since before this area was populated by the Incas.

The ponds work thanks to a spring that carries salt-rich brine to the surface. The waters from that natural spring fall down the slope where they are diverted into these ponds. During the dry season, the water evaporates, leaving the salt behind.

The salt ponds are allocated to anyone who is interested in farming them; there are ponds available that aren’t currently used by anyone, it just takes a person interested in following the rules for harvesting salt. Water is allowed to flow in to a depth of a couple centimeters, flow is shut off, and after a few days, the dried salt is scraped up.

The salt probably is supplied by a unit of halite buried deep within the Andes. Salt deposits form when ocean water is available intermittently with time for the water to dry up in-between: basically the exact same process happening here on a much larger scale. The salt has been buried in the mountains and today is being slowly dissolved by groundwater that passes through.

Each salt pond is only a couple square meters. In this photo, if you zoom in far enough (may require going to the full image version, linked below) there is a person wearing blue standing near the path at the top (just to the right of the wet, green pond). 


Image credit: Emmanuel Dyan

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Inca Trail // Day 2

Our guide, Carlos, told us Day 2 was the most difficult: we had to summit & descend two mountains before arriving at camp. But we had been so broken down by Day 1 (more on that later), that Day 2 seemed easy by comparison. 


Although we walked together all of Day 1, Thomas and I decided to walk with his parents on Day 2. We ended up splitting up and I spent virtually the whole day walking with his dad, Wally. It was by far my favorite part of the trip. Like Thomas, he doesn’t have to fill up every moment with conversation: a quality I thoroughly appreciate. As a result, most of our day was spent listening to the patter of each others’ footsteps, admiring strange plants, and stopping for water breaks disguised as photo ops. 

Also pictured: photo evidence of Wally & Sandra fell asleep after lunch. 

@ronhaviv_vii for @icp An artisanal miner keeps working despite a Peruvian government intervention that appears to have made an impact on illegal gold mining. In one area many large mines are inoperable and deserted. The miners who are left complain about misinformation by the government as well as neglect for their communities. Lack of optional jobs and proper education top the list of complaints. #amazonaid
#amazon #amazonaid #peru #photojournalism @viiphoto (at Mazuco - Madre de Dios)