If you’re a foodie, you’ve probably heard of Peruvian pink sea salt. It is highly regarded in the food world for its colour and rich flavour. It is also generally expensive when you buy it in North American stores, especially when you compare it to regular table salt. But! Did you know you can skip the profit hungry middle men and actually go to the source? Read on to find out where you can get Peruvian pink sea salt cheaply!
Where Can You Get fancy pink salt?
Peruvian pink sea salt comes from a salt spring trapped underground in the Andes Mountains. It only comes out in one place – near a small town called Maras in the Sacred Valley region of Peru. Getting to Maras and the salt ponds (salineras in Spanish) is a bit of a trek via local transportation so consider renting a car and driver for the day. As you approach the salt ponds, make sure you take the time to stop at the side of the road (be careful!) and see them from above. This bird’s eye view gives you an opportunity to see how extensive the pond system really is.
So, how does the salt pond system work?
The salt water flows through a series of little channels into terraced ponds. These ponds have been harvested by hand for over two centuries. Today, each terraced pond is owned by individual families and the whole system is co-op focused within the Maras community. This system has existed since the time of the Incas! As long as you’re part of the Maras community, anyone can own a pond. The size of your pond depends on the size of your family and new community members get a pond furthest away from Maras. So if you’re feeling the call to be a salt farmer, you may want to check out Maras!
What is it like, visiting the salt ponds?
Once at the ponds, you are allowed to walk around it but please take care not to walk on the ponds themselves or the water channels. Do not contaminate them or break them. But getting up close gives you a sense of how the whole thing works. The salty water pools into the fairly shallow ponds and the hot sun evaporates the water, allowing the salt to crystalize on the earth walls and floor. Each pond owner keeps an eye on their pond and at an appropriate time, they close the its water source and allows it to completely dry out. Once dried, the salt is scraped up, the water source is reopened, and the process begins again.
A visit to Maras will only take about an hour but it is well worth a look. It is a unique site and you won’t find many like it in the world. Also, it is here where you can buy your Peruvian pink salt very cheaply! An additional bonus is the landscape in this area – the wide open spaces with the rich colours of the earth is just beautiful here.
Suggestion – combine Maras and the salt ponds with a visit to Morey. Be prepared to be further amazed by the Incas!