Tipón is one of the main tourist destinations in the South Valley of Cusco. This Inca archaeological site offers walls, terraces, enclosures and many other structures in good condition. However, what stands out the most about this place are its aqueducts and water channels built with great perfection. It is the most outstanding hydraulic work of the Incas. Most tourists arrive there through the famous half-day ‘South Valley Tour’, the same one that also includes Piquillacta and Andahuaylillas.

What is Tipón?

Tipón is an archaeological site located south of the city of Cusco. The Inca site has terraces, enclosures, platforms, walls, viewpoints, aqueducts, canals and more. In Inca times it served as an agricultural center where, due to its diverse microclimates, various products were grown. What most attracts the attention of this place are its finely worked water channels, which look in perfect condition. The American engineer Kenneth Wright, after investigating the archaeological complex, said that it is a ‘marvel of civil engineering’.

Where is?

Tipón is 23 kilometers southeast of the city of Cusco. It belongs to the Choquepata community, Oropesa district, Quispicanchis province. It is the first tourist destination in the South Valley. It is situated at 3,560 meters above sea level (11,670 feet of altitude).

How to go there?

The way more tourists visit Tipón is through the half-day ‘South Valley Tour Cusco’. This service includes transportation to all destinations, which are: Tipón, Piquillacta and Andahuaylillas. The tour also offers entry to all sites and tour guide service.

If you want to travel on your own, the best way to go is to take a bus that follows the Cusco – Oropesa route. The cost of the trip is approximately 2 Peruvian soles (0.6 US dollars) and the journey time is 40 minutes on average. Once in Tipón you must buy the ticket, although a better option is to buy in advance the ‘Cusco Tourist Ticket’, which includes the entrance to Tipón and other tourist attractions.

Map to get to Tipón

Tipón’s history

Archaeological evidence indicates that Tipón was inhabited by pre-Inca cultures such as the Ayamarca or the powerful Wari culture around 1,200 AD. Two hundred years later, during the Inca Empire, the ruler Huiracocha conquered the place and, on its walls, he built the famous center of Tipón. Despite the weather, the set of platforms, terraces, enclosures and aqueducts look in good condition. Especially its aqueducts, which continue to irrigate water after more than 600 years.

The name Tipón was assigned by modern historians based on the Quechua word ‘Tlympuj’ which means ‘to be boiling’. This is due to the waters that move through the place, as if it were in a state of boiling. Some chroniclers refer that Tipón was the royal estate of the ruler Yáhuar Huácac (1380 – 1400), father of the future ruler Huiracocha. A part of the ‘Qhapac ñan’ (Inca roads) crosses the upper part of the place. Nearby is the viewpoint of ‘Cruz moqo’, which would have been an important huaca or shrine for the Incas.

The various research works in Tipón have agreed that it is one of the best Inca works in the management of aqueducts and water channels. American engineer Kenneth Wright has pointed out that it is a ‘Civil Engineering Wonder’. Despite the fact that more than 600 years have passed since its construction, in Tipón the water continues to flow without pause, with the perfection calculated by the Incas. The archaeological site of Tipón is the most famous destination in the south of Cusco. Even so, it is not very visited by tourists and residents of Cusco.

This is the archaeological site of Tipón

Water channels – Tipón has up to thirteen terraces with finely carved water channels that supply water to the entire place. According to some researchers, the water would come from the streams that come from the Pachatusan deer. The water was distributed evenly on all platforms. Due to the skill with which the Incas built their canals, some historians suggest that the site was a water shrine.

The royal enclosures – The royal enclosures were the finest constructions of the archaeological complex. In Inca times, it must have been the governor Yahuar Huacac’s room. It has gardens, water channels, windows and terraces. Its base is made of granite stones. It is located in the highest part of the place, from where you have a spectacular view of the entire environment.

The Intihuatana or Temple of the Sun – Set of rooms built in the highest part of Tipón, which were ideal for worshiping the sun. These enclosures have trapezoidal windows. It is presumed that in Inca times they served as residence for the nobility. Within walking distance are the royal precincts, which are built with even greater finesse.

The smaller enclosures – A group of buildings whose bases are made of stone and the highest part of adobe, a simple material made of clay. They were destined for the working class that worked the agricultural fields of the place. They are located near the Intihuatana complex. They are the most characteristic buildings of Tipón.

The walls – Around Tipón there are the remains of a high-rise wall, which should have served as protection against possible enemy invasions. When the Incas achieved peace with their close neighbors, this wall fell into disuse. In the place the remains of an ancient wall of several kilometers from a pre-Inca culture were discovered.

The qhapac ñan – The upper part of Tipón is crossed by a part of the network of Inca roads known as the ‘qhapac ñan’. This network of roads indicated the importance of the site for the Inca worldview, since they only connected the network of citadels and temples of greater importance. The Qhapac ñan covered more than 30 thousand kilometers, reaching part of the current countries of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile and Argentina.

El Mirador de Cruz moqo – This observatory located at the top of Tipón (on the mountain that is at the highest) was an important huaca or shrine. It was part of the network of sacred places located in the ‘ceques’ or sacred roads of the Incas. Its name means ‘top where there is a cross’. From there you have a scenic view of Tipón and the city of Cusco.

How much does the visit cost?

Most tourists visit Tipón through the half-day ‘South Valley Tour Cusco’. This tour has a cost of approximately US $ 70 per person (the price varies depending on the tourism agency). The service includes everything you need for the trip, including the entrance to Tipón as well as the archaeological site of Piquillacta and the church of the town of Andahuaylillas.

If you are going on your own, a good option is to buy the Cusco Tourist Ticket, which includes the entrance to Tipón and other places, including museums in Cusco. The cost of these tickets is approximately 22 US dollars. Then you must go to Tipón by taxi or public service bus. You can choose the ‘Los Leones’ service whose ticket has a cost of 2 Peruvian soles (0.6 US dollars approximately). Once in the town of Tipón, you must take a taxi that will take you to the archaeological site in a few minutes (2 US dollars on average).

Hours of Operation

The archaeological site of Tipón is open to tourists every day of the year from 7 in the morning until 6 in the afternoon.

Gastronomy in Tipón

In the town of Tipón, in addition to the Inca archaeological site, there are dozens of country restaurants whose most popular dish is the ‘baked guinea pig’. This Cusco dish uses cuy (guinea pig) as its main ingredient. It comes with baked potatoes and noodles. Another very famous dish in Tipón is the baked pork. Cusco people usually go there to enjoy these dishes.

What to bring

When you visit Tipón do not forget to bring with you:

  • Raincoat for rains.
  • Cap, hat or some type of sunscreen.
  • Light comfortable clothes for the day.
  • Comfortable sneakers.
  • Some snack.
  • Drinks.
  • Passport or identity document.
  • Cash.

How’s the weather?

The archaeological site of Tipón has a temperate and cold climate. During the day temperatures can reach 22ºC. (71.6ºF) while at night the cold can drop to 0ºC. (32ºF). There are two distinct seasons during the year: the dry season (from April to October) and the rainy season (from November to March). January, February and March are the rainiest months of the year.

Tipón in images

Start of trek in Tipon
Inka Aqueduct in Tipon
See more traveler pictures

More information

Tipón is the first destination of the famous ‘South Valley Cusco Tour’, which lasts half a day and includes a visit to Piquillacta and Andahuaylillas. The archaeological site of Piquillacta was an immense citadel belonging to the important pre-Inca culture called ‘Wari’. Andahuaylillas is a famous Quechua town whose main attraction is the church of San Pedro, known as the ‘Sistine Chapel of America’ for its crowded decoration full of canvases, gold leaf objects, wooden sculptures, pieces of saints and more.

Water played an important role in the most outstanding constructions of the Incas. For the Incas, this element was vital for agriculture and subsistence. Another of the archaeological sites that were water worship was Tambomachay, located on the outskirts of the city of Cusco. This place is also called ‘The Inca baths’, due to the fine channels and water reservoirs that, it is believed, were the exclusive use of the Inca emperor.

Tips for the visit

Tipón has an average altitude of 3,560 meters above sea level (11,670 feet of altitude). At this elevation the visitor may feel some of the symptoms of altitude sickness (soroche) whose main symptoms are fatigue, nausea and headache. Although the symptoms usually disappear on their own after one or two days of adaptation, a good idea is to drink plenty of water, such as the famous ‘mate de coca’ (infusion made from coca leaf).

Near the archaeological site of Tipón there is a local zoo where it is possible to see some characteristic animals of Peru such as the Andean condor, the llama, the vicuña, the puma, the macaw and others. A good idea during your visit to Tipón is to visit this zoo. The cost of admission is only 5 Peruvian soles (approximately 2 US dollars).