Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg

Las Salinas del Maras: Peru's Pre-Incan Salt Mines

The growing global taste for Peruvian cuisine is increasing interest among foodies and chefs in the country's lesser-known goods, such as pink salt, produced in Maras in the Andes mountains. Around 4,500 ponds cover mountain terraces close to the Sacred Valley of the Incas in Cuzco, at about 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) above sea level. The mineral-rich salt is consumed locally and exports are growing to markets such as U.S., Japan, Germany, France and Australia. Photographs by Dado Galdieri for Bloomberg

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    Since pre-Inca times, salt has been made in Maras by evaporating salty water from a local subterranean stream in terraced ponds. 

    Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg
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    Miners work the ponds, which are situated in the 'Sacred Valley' near Cuzco.

    Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg
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    The naturally occurring spring water is guided into a system of channels that run steadily down into the ancient terraced ponds.

    Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg
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    The Maras mines are examples of Incan salt production where a co-operative of local artisans have kept the tradition alive.

    Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg
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    Alongside traditional salt making, local artisans now offer a range of products including medicinal bath salts and exfoliating bath oils.

    Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg
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    Some of the thousands of terraced evaporation ponds.

    Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg
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    The community in ancient times was called the "Kachi," which translates to "salt" in the local language.

    Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg
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    Miners carry bags of salt back to a storage site.

    Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg
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    Artisans enjoy Peruvian Cusquena beer during a break from working the mine.

    Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg