The home of Peruvian pink salt is 10,000 feet high in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, 30 miles north of Cuzco, near the town of Maras. Here, more than four thousand small ponds of salt cluster together on a steep hillside. Each salt pond has a deed, like that of a deed to a house, and they are passed down from family to family, as they have been for centuries, since before the start of the Inca Empire. The pale pink salt contains magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, copper, and zinc and is believed to have curative properties by the local population. In the past few years this salt has become somewhat of a gourmet product. In Lima it flavors a brand of potato chips and I’ve even seen it on pieces of chocolate. In the Sacred Valley it is being used for salt scrubs at top spas. An on site gift shop, opened in 2011, is the best place to buy Maras salt products, though it is now also being exported to North America. Don’t expect to find the same prices, however.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.