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Tipon & Pikillaqta | A guide to Cusco’s southern valley

Tipon & Pikillaqta are two archeological sites that are located in Cusco’s less visited southern valley.  Tipon is a large Incan site believed to be from the early fifteenth century, while Pikillaqta was built by the Wari culture that predates the Incans.  Both sites are well worth a visit if you have the time, especially Tipon with it’s cascades of water running through the site.  They are both included on the Cusco Tourist ticket and can quite easily be visited by public transport from the city.

Fountains at Tipon

How to visit Tipon & Pikillaqta from Cusco?

After a bit of investigation we found it quite easy to find the right transport solution to get to Tipon from Cusco.  A five min walk away from the main square, Plaza de Armas, is the small but beautiful square of San Francisco.  On the side where the church is you’ll see a bus stop and several local buses pass by there.  The one you want will have Tipon or Urcos either on the side or on the front windshield.  This bus will take you to the town of Tipon which is at the bottom of the hill where the ruins are situated and about eight km from Pikillaqta.  The cost of the bus was approximately 3.00 PEN per person.  There is also the option also to book a tour if you don’t want to visit independently and you can book this at many of the tour sellers in Cusco. We don’t know the cost of the tours as we didn’t explore this option.

How to get to Tipon Archeological site?
Activity – Archeological site – Entry with the Cusco Tourist Ticket

Once you get off the bus you will find a bunch of collectivo’s and taxi’s all primed and ready to take you up to the ruins.  They are a few kms uphill so unless you’re super fit and have the time the taxi is the best option.  The cost is usually 5.00 PEN per person with a 15.00 PEN minimum so its best if there’s a few of you or you can find someone to share the taxi with.  There are usually people around going up to the site so its likely you’ll find someone to share with.   One thing to remember is that the later in the day it gets the less likely taxi’s will be bring people up to the ruins so less likely you’ll find a taxi back down so try and make your visit as early in the day as possible. 

How to get to the Pikillaqta archeological site?
Activity – Archeological site – Entry with the Cusco Tourist Ticket

Once you arrive back to the town of Tipon from the archeological site there will be the same group of taxi’s waiting to ferry you on to the next site of Pikillaqta as that is what most visitors do.   You can negotiate a price with the taxi driver as this site is a further eight km’s along the road and we were able to negotiate a price of 20.00 PEN.   The taxi will let you off at the entrance to the archeological site where you get your ticket punched and for the return journey, the site is just on the main road so its easy to flag a public bus down to take you back to Cusco which only costs approx 3.00 PEN per person. 

Tipon Archeological Site
Tipon Archeological Site

What is there to see at the Tipon archeological site?

After you enter the site and get your ticket punched by the official you are then led on a path to the right where the terraced site opens up before you and is beautiful.  Tipon is an archaeological site where water was worshiped. The archaeological complex comprised of 12 terraces flanked by perfectly polished stone walls and enormous platforms, ornamental waterfalls and channels. The complex is considered one of the royal sites and gardens that were constructed by Wiracocha, the 8th Inca king.  This is really a beautiful site and has many elevated paths up to other Incan areas where the views back to the main terraces and beyond are spectacular.  

One of these places is called Pukara and is approximately a 30 min hike up the right hand side of the terraces on a well marked path.  Once you reach the top then follow the path through the Incan ruin of Intihuatana, which means alter of the sun.  Once there   follow the canal until you reach Pukara which when we were there, was completely deserted.

 It’s well worth taking the time to explore to make sure you see all that the site has to offer but remember, don’t stay much past midday or you may find yourself walking back down to the town as there may be no taxi’s available. The site is open from 7.00am until 6.00pm but make sure you leave enough time to visit Pikillaqta later in the day. 

Canals of Tipon

What is there to see at Pikillaqta archeological site?

The Pikillaqta site was a citadel created by the Wari culture, a pre Incan civilisation that had skills in architecture and urban planning which was evidently followed by the Incas who adapted and improved their methods.   The citadel is composed of 700 buildings, 200 courts, 508 storage buildings or colcas and archeologists are still finding new structures even today. The city was thought to have housed around 10,000 people and its amazing to think that when you’re standing in the middle of it.  

When you arrive at the site and the official punches your ticket you make your way up the main road to the entrance to the site.  To the left you can find evidence of buildings which seem to be dwellings and have what looks like hearths for cooking at the centre of them.  There is also evidence of what appears to be storehouses.  If you follow the path to the left and take one of the main walkways into the complex you will find yourself on the main thoroughfare which makes its way right through the village and rises up to the right which leaves you with a spectacular view of the complex.  There are buildings to explore and paths to follow and much more than we had time for however we  really enjoyed our time here.  The site is open from 7.00am until 6.00pm but like the Tipon site before its best to visit as early as possible so you don’t run out of transport options for the trip back to Cusco. 

Main road in Pikillaqta
Main road in Pikillaqta

Our View

Both Tipon & Pikillaqta are well worth a visit.  Tipon for its beauty, it really is lovely and Pikillaqta for its vast display of pre-Incan knowledge.   If you time it correctly then you can have these sites practically to yourselves and its lovely to just sit back and enjoy the spectacular views both have to offer. 

Booking resources for your stay in Cusco


You can compare cheap flights on the Expedia platform or here on the Aviasales website.  Both will give you a good idea of how much its going to cost you to get to your chosen destination.


We have always tended to use having said that if your on a tight budget another good site to try as a comparison is Hostelworld, If your looking to compare different sites you can do that on Hotellook, we tend to look on here first to make sure we are getting the best deal.

Tours & Tickets

You can book your visits as you go at the entrance to your chosen attraction or site.  Or you could use the following links to book in advance or just to find out what your choices are in the area. GetYourGuide and Tiqets are our go to choices you could try Viator to see how they compare.

For a full list check out our resources page. Don’t forget always shop around to find the best deal for you. What works for us should be good for you but it’s always reassuring to check.

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