Tipón and its Inca Irrigation system - Day 490
Being economically minded GrownUpTravellers we’ve again taken advantage of using our BTC card, so yesterday visited the fascinating Tipón and its Inca Irrigation system; another significant but less well known archaeological site in Peru.
Our 27km bus journey to Tipón, at a bargain 90p return, was interesting in itself with passengers carrying great big sacks of produce, large gas canisters, and 10-litre containers of oil. Many of them looked quite amused having us on the bus. On our return journey, just after we left Tipón, the bus driver stopped to chat with another driver and I overheard him saying “…servicio especial de autobuses con inglés”. We all laughed!
We drove through towns, villages and countryside; a great way to see some of the surrounding area. One village’s speciality was selling huge pieces of pork crackling that looked like giant poppadums in glass tanks along the street. They were all the same; perhaps they haven’t heard of having a USP (Unique Selling Proposition).
Eventually, we arrived at Tipón, the end of the bus line. The walk to the Archaeological Site was 3.7km and up a steep winding road. When a taxi asked if we wanted a lift, I was relieved, until Tim said “No Gracias”, and he’d prefer to walk. A few ladies were sitting, observing this and they all laughed at the look on my face!
We did find a short cut with many steep steps, not great for dodgy knees. However, I did have my trusted walking sticks to support me. We managed to get to the top, with me huffing and puffing, not only because of the climb but also the altitude had reached over 3,500m. When will my lungs get used to this I wonder?
Stopping for a picnic, I managed to catch my breath and give my sore knees a rest. How Tim puts up with me is beyond belief! The view was fabulous with mountains gently caressing the valley with giant velvet paws.
Climbing up yet more steps, we reached Sinkunacancha, a raised round area of Ancient Inca ruins with amazing views of what we had come to see, the vast terraces of Tipón with its incredible water system. As there was no clear footpath, we followed Maps.me (great for showing trails as well as roads) which showed a fork in the path. Tim decided to take the longer and higher choice while I went straight to the terraces.
What a place! The Inca site that is believed to have been a palace consists of huge flat neat terraces supported by beautiful walls demonstrating the great masonry skills of these people. Some had cantilever steps made from large pieces of flat rock jutting out, leading a person from one terrace level to another.
At the top of the terraces is the “Fuente Ceremonial” temple, showing the Inca’s respect for water. An underground natural spring feeds into the Incas extensive and clever water system and, through the use of five pieces of rock, cleverly creates four equal waterfalls cascading into a pool before dropping into the channels that take the water to each terrace. The water either irrigates the lawns during the dry season or serves as an efficient drainage system during the wet season. A masterpiece in Engineering. In fact, in 2006 Tipón was included in the list of Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks for its water supply & control system.
I sat in quiet contemplation, waiting for Tim. The place was so calm and peaceful with the sound of the water trickling, and birds singing. There was just a smattering of other visitors strolling around the place.
For me, I also got the sense that the Incas really took their time to understand the natural elements of this area so that they could build something practical with such beauty. Have we lost this skill? Is it all about time and money now? Do town planners consider the natural environment to the extent of the Incas? If so, perhaps there would be less flooding and droughts.
Tim arrived and after catching his breath, we walked back to the village via the road, accompanied by a friendly dog for most of the way.
The valley is teeming with agriculture, potato plants in bloom (did you know that there are over 1,000 varieties of potatoes here in Peru?), maize finished for the season, and as we carried along our walk, we came across an extended family washing their crop of carrots in the water channel. Yes, this goes all the way down to the village.
We were greeted with “Buenos Tarde” from locals walking past. A toddler was curious to see my walking sticks, and I did offer them to a very elderly and tiny lady struggling up the hill. She was very amused. We came across two ladies sorting through a pile of peas. It was great to hear them giggling after I asked permission to take a photo. I love times like this, meeting local people, getting a sense of how they live by connecting with nature. A simple life that perhaps we have forgotten in western society.
As we reached the centre of the village, we heard “Cusco, Cusco”, and a lady pointed to the bus that was just leaving. The driver stopped and waited for us. Well, we are his "Special English passengers"!