Besides Machu Picchu the one thing that I knew I wanted to see while I was in Cusco was Moray and the Salineras Salt Flats. When you arrive in Cusco you can book a variety of day tours. Moray and Salinas de Maras is one of the most popular ones from Cusco and is a pretty easy day trip. I signed up for a tour through my hotel (50 soles). This tour wasn’t quite a full day so lunch was not included. We arrived back in Cusco mid afternoon.
There are tour agencies all over Cusco and most tours are by group bus. The bus tour is the best option if you are on a budget but they are a little bit rushed because they are shuttling around an entire group and they are more scheduled with less flexibility. There are smaller van or car tours that can be booked for different prices if you don’t want to deal with a large group.
Most of the historical sites throughout Cusco and the Cusco Region can be visited by buying a one time tourist ticket. (FULL LIST HERE). Each time you visit the site you will get a punch at entry. The ticket is good for ten days from purchase and there is also a discount for students. The ticket is a little pricey 130 soles but if you plan on visiting more than two sites (it is 70 soles for a one-time entry) it is worth the price. They are for sale at the site entrances when you get your punch and they accept cash only.
The first stop before we got to Maras was in Chinchero to learn about the local textile processes (and shop of course). We had a demonstration of how the alpaca fleece is prepared start to finished product. Washed with a homemade soap from a local root, spun by drop spindle, dyed with natural plant dyes found in the region and hand woven.
Moray was my first encounter seeing the Inca’s tiered terraces. Moray was used as a kind of plant laboratory and they used the different levels to grow different kinds of plants as each layer had a different temperature and altitude. There are two large tiered areas, one for warmer climate plants and a second one for cooler climate plants which receives the snowcapped air coming off the mountains in the distance.
SALINERAS SALT FLATS
The Salineras Salt Flats are not part of the tourist ticket and there is 10 soles entrance fee. I had seen photos of this online and it is just as incredible in person as in photos. Make sure you stay awake to see the very first view from the road looking down on the flats. (The right side of the bus has the best view).
Unlike Bolivia’s Salt Flat which was a lake of dried salt these salt flats are created from salt water coming down off the mountain. The water is directed through a man-made channel system that fills the different flats into salt water pools. The pools are then dried out leaving only the salt in the flat to be harvested.