While this doesn’t really warrant an entire post, I absolutely loved the Tipón ruins (maybe more than Machu Picchu…). They seem to be severely underrated and under visited, so they get a full post!
The Tipón ruins are located about 30 km from downtown Cusco, accessible by collectivio. I read up online how to grab one – go to Avenida de la Cultura and flag one down that’s bound for Tipón. Feeling more confident in my collectivo skills, I determined the correct side of the street, looked for hoards of people standing and buses stopping (pretty obvious) and stood there. Hundreds of buses passed by, nonstop, with attendants learning out the windows yelling destinations. It was hard to understand their auctioneer voices, especially in Spanish, but luckily the destinations are additionally printed on the side of the bus. Eventually one came that said Tipón, I confirmed with the attendant and boarded. On these buses, you do not pay until they either come around and ask or until you get off. It stopped probably about 50 times in total, very frequently at first within the dense city confines. As it moved further out it stopped less frequently, thank goodness.
Arriving Below the Tipón Ruins
I paid my 1.50soles fare (about 40 cents) and was preparing to exit in the town of Choquepata, known for its cuisine of guinea pigs or cuy (served all over Peru but especially famous here…just can’t bring myself to try it, sick) when a nice lady asked if i was going to the ruins and told me to wait til the plaza (I was the only foreigner, guess it was obvious). The bus stopped at the last stop, a very small plaza a bit up the mountain, where only one other woman got off. I began my walk towards Tipón, up the winding, steep mountain road as there was no other way to get there. It was deserted, aside from some small huts and the very occasional mini mart and people in fields. Tour buses/vans passed periodically.
As I continued walking it got way steep and windy; much more intense than expected (what else is new). Eventually I saw some stone steps leading straight up the mountain, more direct than the winding paved road. I spotted a couple ahead (first passers-by), and they told me it was the way to Tipón! I began walking behind them, which was nice because it was remote and steep (safety first). The girl was studying English, traveling with an older man she stated was her “English teacher.” However, when I attempted to converse it seemed he did not in fact speak much if any English. Later at the ruins, I saw them cuddling…
We panted and hiked to the top together, and then I ditched them straight away, preferring to explore alone and also feeling weird about their situation.
Tipón was incredible. An impeccable example of the Inca’s superior knowledge of construction and aqueducts, terrace after terrace built-in rectangles into the mountain, water flowing through small channels in rectangles.
The ruins and water were stunning, as was the view from the lookout point high above that I aggressively hiked to even though I was exhausted. I spent ample time laying in the sun relaxing on the ruins and reading, and walked all around to see every corner. A few tourist groups came and went, but it was pretty uncrowded and felt very authentic, especially since the ruins were in such good condition.
The Sheep-Charging Incident
The way down was much easier. I was casually walking when a woman with some sheep and pigs passed me, her animals in tow. I passed without word or incident, when all the sudden something hit me hard from behind – a sheep charged me! It thrust its body between my legs hitting hard on my lower calves (bruised). I was, obviously, shocked and screamed. A woman working in her yard started laughing at me, “he wants to play” she said in Spanish. To which I replied “I do not want to play with him!”; she laughed even harder. After surviving this horrific attack (why wildlife continually comes to me when I ignore it I do not understand…This only 1 day after the llama bite), I made my way down to the plaza.
Starving and traumatized, I bought popcorn with sugar from a lady on the street for only 1 sole. I boarded one of the collectivos waiting and was the only passenger at first, but we soon began collecting people and made it all the way back to Cusco.
If you only see one thing in Cusco I recommend Tipón. Aside from the boleto turistico which I already had, I only spent about 1.50 US on the bus fare and snack, and it was truly amazing.
Related Posts: Cusco City Ruins