How to travel to the Salt Mines (Salinas de Maras) in Cusco without a tour
We took one look at the photos of the recognisable Salinas de Maras and knew we had to pay a visit to this unique location! We wanted to do this trip on our own rather than the many tours that are offered from Cusco, the main reasons being; 1. We wanted to take our time and not be restricted by a schedule and 2. We wanted to experience how to travel like a local in the collectivo’s and give ourselves a challenge to find our way around!
Challenge 1: Where the hell do we go?!
We knew we needed to get to the town called Urubamba and that we needed to catch a local collectivo. The bus stop was very close to our hostel (Puriwasi) so we only needed to walk two blocks until a man asking if we needed a collectivo approached us. This was located on Avenida Grau, and the shuttle bus was departing from a building that was next to Super Sol which is marked on your Maps.Me. The collectivo’s in Cusco are S/6 (USD $1.80) and only leave once the shuttle bus is full. We were quite surprised with how comfortable the bus was and we even got to buy fresh fruit salads for S/3 through the window before we departed.
Challenge 2: What do we do next?
After getting off the collectivo in Urubamba, we roamed around aimlessly wondering where to go next. We realised how unorganized and hungry we were so we decided to stop at a restaurant for a quick bite to eat. We spoke to the lady at the restaurant in muy bien Spanglish and she told us to get a taxi for S/30 (USD $9) to the Salinas de Maras. If you’re prepared (which we most certainly were not) you can opt to hike to the Salt Mines, which is approximately 2.5 hours, although it’s quite the uphill climb. A climb we weren’t prepared to do straight after our Salkantay Trek.
Challenge 3: We made it, now what do we do?
Our very kind taxi driver offered to stop multiple times along the 15 minute journey to take some photos of the incredible landscapes, which included views of the Chicon Mountain and the surrounding agricultural paddocks. Once we arrived at Salinas de Maras, we had to pay S/10 (USD $3) each and we walked through the entrance to see the AMAZING salt mines. It was much bigger than we expected and MUCH more impressive in real life than photos (as most views are, let’s be honest). We spent 2 hours walking around the Salt Mines, continuously stopping and staring like the biggest gringo tourists you’ll ever see.
Challenge 4: The journey home
We recommend making your way to the top dirt road that sits above the Salt Mines and following it all the way down. Follow your Maps.Me until you reach Gringo Bill’s Yoga Retreat and continue on straight to the main road. Once you reach the main road you can choose to get a Tuk Tuk back to Urubamba for S/3 (USD $0.90) or walk for 1.5 hours to the “Terminal Terrestre de Urubamba” where you will get your collectivo back to Cusco. From here you can get the normal S/6 collectivo or a more private 7 seater car for only S/7. We did the private option so we weren’t hanging around waiting for the collectivo to fill up.
How much did it cost?
S/56 (USD $17) for a single person, cheaper if you’re in a group and can split the taxi fare
Wear joggers if you’re planning on hiking down the hill otherwise sandals/flip flops are suitable.
Bring snacks for the ride home!
Obviously, bring your camera and take your time to admire the hard work that is put in to make this site so beautiful.