We leave Cusco early and head southeast to the Huambutio district. Our journey continues through beautiful countryside along the banks of the Vilcanota River, whose waters irrigate the Sacred Valley of the Incas. In about an hour we arrive at the town, where our adventure begins at 3,070 meters (10,072 ft.) above sea level. Our trek begins with an uphill hike. The trail goes past small groves of native Queuña and hachacomo trees. These ravines are home to a beautiful endemic hummingbird, the Bearded Mountaineer (Oreonympha nobilis), which is abundant in the area.
There are many other bird species whose habitat is these Andean ravines. As we continue climbing, vegetation becomes less widespread. The ascent is demanding, but once we reach Pachatusan Pass (4,207 meters/ 13,802 ft. a. s. l.), our efforts are rewarded by astonishing views of the Cusco Valley and the Sacred Valley. We then begin our descent towards the archaeological site of Tipón. Along the way, we’ll stop for a picnic lunch. As we continue to descend, we see Inca constructions, canals and roads which lead us to the main complex of Tipón. This is one of the most significant examples of the Inca’s knowledge of hydraulic engineering. It’s comprised of a series of agricultural terraces, long flights of steps, stone waterworks and canals, and beautiful ornamental fountains. After touring and enjoying this impressive ancient site, we’ll return to Cusco by car.