The Salineras de Maras--the salt ponds of Maras (the closest town) were developed by the Incas when they realized that a salt deficiency among the population was causing widespread goiter. A series of ponds, all fed by a single, small stream, were constructed down the side of a mountain. By the time they finished there were 2,000 ponds, most of which are still in use. Two or three ponds are lost to erosion each year.
Families in the nearby town of Maras own two or three ponds each and are responsible for harvesting the salt during the rainy season from April to September. Each pond produces 50 kilograms of salt each month. Because the Salineras are part of the national patrimony, the ponds can only be passed down within the family; they cannot be sold.
These photographs were taken in January, the dry season. As a result the colours of the ponds are shades of orange and brown. During the rainy season, however, the salt ponds turn a brilliant white.