A few miles down the road from Moray, the Maras salt ponds have been run as a local cooperative since Inca times.
Ocean waters were trapped inland around 110 million years ago by the rising of the Andes, and evaporated to form underground salt deposits. Now deep underground, these deposits dissolve in groundwater, which rises as a small spring, and is diverted down a network of channels into evaporation ponds. Once a pond is full, the salt farmer diverts the flow and waits for salt to crystallise out before scooping it up and repeating the process. There are several grades of salt, depending on the skill of the operator and how much insoluble crud is left in the crystals. There are dozens of stalls selling salt in bags of all sizes, from as little as 1 sol for a couple of ounces. For reference, half a pound goes for USD 12 on Amazon. Oddly, nobody mentioned the fact that a unique bacterium, Salicola marasensis, was recently found living in the evaporation ponds. This is so halophilic that it cannot grow in solutions of less than 10% NaCl, and was the first species of its genus to be discovered.
We also saw an enormous Nativity scene made almost entirely out of crystallised salt in one of the nearby buildings. It was quite disturbing, and we were both too unsettled to take a picture.
The network of channels is fascinating, with small streams constantly branching off to ponds or to smaller networks. I spent a long time engrossed in the textures.
We visited as part of our day trip from Ollantaytambo. The boleto turistico is not valid for entry: instead there's a charge of S/10 per person.