Both in setting and architectural design, the TIPÓN RUINS are one of the most impressive Inca sites. With no village or habitation in sight, and fresh running water, it’s also a breathtaking place to camp.

The lower ruins

Well hidden in a natural shelf high above the Huatanay Valley, the lower sector of the ruins is a stunning sight: a series of neat agricultural terraces, watered by stone-lined channels, all astonishingly preserved and many still in use. The impressive stone terracing reeks of the Incas’ domination over an obviously massive and subservient labour pool; yet at the same time it’s clearly little more than an elaborate attempt to increase crop yield. At the back of the lower ruins, water flows from a stone-faced “mouth” around a spring – probably an aqueduct subterraneously diverted from above. The entire complex is designed around this spring, reached by a path from the last terrace.

The reservoir and temple block

Another sector of the ruins contains a reservoir and temple block centred on a large, exploded volcanic rock – presumably some kind of huaca. Although the stonework in the temple seems cruder than that of the agricultural terracing, its location is still beneficial. By contrast, the construction of the reservoir is sophisticated, as it was originally built to hold nine hundred cubic metres of water which gradually dispersed along stone channels to the Inca “farm” directly below.

The upper ruins

Coming off the back of the reservoir, a large, tapering stone aqueduct crosses a small gully before continuing uphill – about thirty minutes’ walk – to a vast zone of unexcavated terraces and dwellings. Beyond these, over the lip of the hill, you come to another level of the upper valley literally covered in Inca terracing, dwellings and large stone storehouses. Equivalent in size to the lower ruins, these are still used by locals who have built their own houses among the ruins. So impressive is the terracing at Tipón that some archeologists believe it was an Inca experimental agricultural centre, much like Moray, as well as a citadel.

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