Tipón + Santa Rosa, Peru – On the way into the Altiplano

The fields gloom dark red, the stalks sway softly with the wind. The beautiful cereal is called Quinoa, looking a little bit like millet, just poofier and coloured. The traditional corn grows in elevations up to 4,000 m and might be called Kiwicha in Quechua. We leave Urubamba and Pisac behind and are heading to Lake Titicaca. We circle around Cusco and reach Tipón on its south-east side. Here we find beautiful Inca terraces with perfectly constructed supporting walls and irrigation systems. The lavish terracing counteracted erosion of the earth’s surface and assured the Inca higher crops, but is rarely used today – too much maintenance is needed. Access to the archaeological site of Tipón with boleto turistico or for 10 PEN pp (S 13°34’17.9’’ W 71°47’03.6’’).

Following a smooth valley we climb nearly imperceptibly without sharp bends and steeper slopes into the height. The snow-covered Cerro Cunurana, 5,443 m high, rises into the thin air. The Abra La Raya, a 4,360 m high pass, doesn’t only mark the route’s highest point and the watershed between Atlantic and Pacific, but the beginning of the Altiplano, the extensive plateau in around 3,600 m that extends far into Bolivia.

Just few kilometres south of a town called Santa Rosa we find a gravel road that is basically a dead end with a peaceful private campsite for us on a murmuring river: S 14°46’44.5’’ W 70°43’51.0’’.

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