Tipon – Incan Water Channels and a Giant Hummingbird

Tipon is a less visited Inca site in Peru’s Sacred Valley, which can be reached by bus from Cusco (follow the link to read about our stay in Cusco).  There are also many tours available that include Tipon.

Getting to Tipon

To get to Tipon independently, as we did, you can take the bus from Cusco’s Avenida de la Cultura to Urcos, and get off at the Tipon stop.  From there you can get a taxi up to the site, although we decided to walk instead.  It is a walk of approximately 4 km on an ascending, winding track, through small communities, and with great views of the river valley.  We really enjoyed the walk.

Track to Tipon, Peru

Near the start of the track

Urubamba River near Tipon, Peru

View from a bridge over the River Urubamba

Track to Tipon, Peru

Local residents on the track

If you prefer an organized tour, Viator have a range of tours in the Sacred Valley, including Tipon.



The Site

Arriving at Tipon we were struck by the peace and the spaciousness of the site.  It is very different to the other Inca sites we visited in the Sacred Valley.  Instead of the massively impressive walls at Saqsaywaman or the steep walled terraces at Pisac and Ollantaytambo, here there are more widely spaced, intricate terraces with irrigation channels between gentle cultivated slopes. Stepped paths wind around the site, and there is open space all around.

There were also no crowds of tourists, just a single minibus with a small party and a few individuals.  It was so nice being able to wander around on our own.   Tipon is one of the sites covered by the Cusco Tourist Ticket (Boleto Turistico – see Peru Practicalities), but there was nobody there to check the ticket the day we went.

Grass terraces at Tipon, Peru

Gentle grass terraces

Stepped path and terraces at Tipon, Peru

Stepped paths wander around the site

Terraces at Tipon, Peru

Steps up through the terraces with a functioning water channel beside them

Tipon, Peru

Open setting of the Tipon site

Water Features

Tipon is noted for its irrigation channels and water features, some of which still have water flowing.

Water feature at Tipon, Peru

Beautiful flowing water feature

Water feature, Tipon, Peru

Another water fountain still functioning

Above the main site we found the irrigation channel (which was dry when we visited) in the photo below.  We started following this up into the hills, and it just went on and on. We didn’t find out how far it actually goes.   It is hugely impressive and demonstrates the ingenuity and engineering skills of the people who built it.

Stone irrigation channel at Tipon, Peru

Stone irrigation channel to bring water down from the surrounding hills

Flowers and Birds

It is easy to stroll up above Tipon for views over the site and of the surrounding mountains.

Inca site at Tipon , Peru

View over the site from above

View of the distant Andes

We came upon this lovely plant (possibly a type of agave – if anyone recognises it we would love to know!)

Flowering plant near Tipon, Peru

Lovely flower spikes

Whilst staying in the Sacred Valley we had been fascinated by the lovely hummingbirds.  We were particularly intrigued when we heard that there is a giant hummingbird, which is rarely seen.  A giant hummingbird was difficult to imagine.

So we were absolutely delighted when a giant hummingbird approached the plant above and started feeding.  Unfortunately we were so enthralled watching it that we didn’t manage to get a decent photograph!  At least the one below gives an idea of the size of the bird, which although not giant was substantially bigger than other hummingbirds we saw.  We felt very privileged to see this unusual bird feeding so close to us.

Giant hummingbird feeding

Walking back through Tipon we also came across this lovely bird of prey which I think was an American kestrel.  Again if you know different we would love to hear from you!

American kestrel at Tipon, Peru

American kestrel

If you are staying in Cusco it is definitely worth making the effort to visit Tipon.  It is a really atmospheric site with very few tourists, and is surrounded by lovely countryside.  We remember it as one of the best days of our tour.

Please remember that this site is based entirely on our own experiences, therfore kindly note the disclaimer.

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