Sun gate at machu picchu

Sun gate at Machu Picchu is one of the most important archeological constructions that connects with Machu Picchu. This construction is made up of several walls, windows, doors, and rustic terraces of stone.

Hiking to the sun gate is not the same as climbing Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain at all. There is not much exposure to what is down below and the walk without a doubt is really safe and not at all difficult. It is not much of a hike really, it is more like a longer walk than take somewhat uphill.

Note: Sun Gate Machu Picchu is closed due to covid 19 until further notice. This is because there is only one trail to the sun gate that is used to go and back. Therefore there is a risk of contagion among tourists.

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Sun Gate at Machu Picchu Details

  • Age Restrictions: There is no age limit.
  • Height : 2,720 m / 8,924 ft.
  • Altitude Gain: 290 m (951 ft).
  • Location: The Sun Gate is located in the upper part, southeast of Machu Picchu in Cusco, Peru.
  • Trail Description: The Sun gate follows a trail that is more gradual at no more than 35 degrees in angle. As you get close to Sun Gate, the path turns steeper and a little more difficult(the last 15 minutes)
  • Archaeological Attractions: Terraces and the unparalleled sun gate,
  • Advantages: You experience part of the original Inca trail.
  • Disadvantages: there is not.
  • Walking Time: 2 hours roughly(round trip)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Walking distance: 4 km/ 2.48 miles (round trip).

What to do in the Intipunku?

Visit the offering rock –  Almost halfway through the hike, you will find a rock, where in Incas times, people who came from Cusco used to leave some offerings. Nowadays, day visitors bring Coca leaves so you will see the rock with a lot of Coca Leaves. 

Observe amazing landscapes – From the Sun Gate, you can see Machu Picchu from a different angle that cannot be seen from elsewhere. You will see the Vilcanota river, the Wayna Picchu mountain, Aguas Calientes town, and its surroundings.

Take unique pictures – Some of the best photos of Machu Picchu that you can take are from the top of Sun Gate. Not only from the top, you will also find the best places to take the best pictures on the way up to Intipunku.

Bird watching – Hiking to the sun gate,  you will have to chance to spot some of the bird species that inhabit Machupicchu Sanctuary. You can see species such as the cock of the rocks, the Andean turkey, the tile tanager, the chestnut-breasted hummingbird, and the mountain watchmaker among others.

Sun Gate Hike

Best time to hike the Sun Gate?

If you plan to hike the sun gate in rainy season(from December to March), try to get there  after 10:00 am because early in the morning this place stays misty so you wont enjoy the beatiful lanscape it offers.

On dry season(from April to November). It is recommended to hike there early in the morning because after the 10:00 am the sun is so strong.

What ticket do I need to hike to the Sun Gate?

You don’t need any tickets. You can hike to the Sun Gate(Inti Pinku) with your regular Machu Picchu permit as long as you go there before your guided tour at Machu Picchu ruins.

If you decide to do your guided tour first and then hike to Sun Gate, you have to buy an additional MAPI ticket or Machu Picchu Mountain ticket.  Once you finish the guided tour at Machu Picchu, you have to leave the citadel and with only those tickets mentioned above, you enter again to the citadel and then hike to the sun gate.

Finding the trail to Sun Gate at Machu Picchu

Once you enter the main Machu Picchu gated entrance, you walk 2 minutes straight, then turn left in the direction of the guardhouse. At the guardhouse, you should turn left and stick to the stone-stepped trail that leads away from Machu Picchu Llaqta through the agricultural terraces. The wooden signs stating the Sun Gate obviously mark the way.

sun gate at machu picchu map

Sun gate (Intipunku) history

The Inti Punku was a control gate for people who entered and exited the holy Inca city. Because of its remote and tactical location, it is believed that Machu Picchu Llaqta only accepted people of the Incan Elite.

The Sun gate construction is dedicated to the sun. During the summer solstice, the rising sun would pass through the Sun Gate each year. The people who came back after seeing the holy city were treated with particular respect by the people who were on their way to Machu Picchu.

Things to know

  • The hike to Sun Gate is not as hard as Huayna Picchu mountain, so it is more accessible for people of different fitness levels.
  • If you plan to visit the Sun Gate, wear proper trekking shoes. This way, you are going to avoid accidents and kinks on the cobbled trail.
  • During the rainy season which is from December to March, the trail to the sun gate can get slippery and you should watch every step twice and bring a rain poncho. Bring sunscreen and a hat if you visit in the dry season (from April to October).
  • You will hike above 2,400m / 7,874ft. Make sure you get used to the altitude. Wear hiking shoes; some care is needed in the rainy season(from December to March) because some of the rocks on the trail might be slippery.
  • There are no shops on the way to the Sun Gate so bring enough water, snacks, sun cream, and rain gear in case of a shower.
  • After the Gate of the Sun viewpoint, the trail keeps going to Wiñay Wayna Inca ruin, the last control point of the Inca trail. However, you are not allowed to continue the trail as you need the Inca Trail permit.

sun gate trail

Is it worth visiting Intipunku? 

Without a doubt, the hike up to Inti Punku is worth it because you get an amazing view from the top over the Inca citadel like hikers of Inca trail 4 day trek.

Can I See the Sunrise from the Sun Gate?

Hiking Inca Trail 4 days gives you the chance to see the sunrise from the Sun Gate. However, day visitors are not able to see the sunrise.

Why is called Sun gate?

The construction was dedicated to the Sun god, because, during the summer solstices, the sun’s rays filtered through the entrance door, which caused a brilliant glow on the ground. You can see this phenomenon from the Machu Picchu Citadel.

Is the hike to the Sun Gate Safe?

There is very little exposure on the hike from Machu Picchu citadel to the Intipunku, so It is very safe to hike to the Sun Gate.

Is there an age limit?

There is no age limit to hiking the Sun Gate. Tourists of all ages can go there.

Is there any time limit?

You can visit the Sun gate from 6 am in the morning until 2 pm in the afternoon.

There are several ways to access the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu:

Here are some ways to get to the famous Sun Gate:

  • Directly from the Inca Trail 4 Days, The Sun Gate is where trekkers get their first well-earned view of Machu Picchu at the end of their long hike.
  • Also directly from the Short Inca Trail 2 days which includes the visit and sightings of the Sun Gate the day before the tour of the Machu Picchu citadel.
  • Direct hikes to the Sun Gate from Machu Picchu on a regular tour.

sun gate at machu picchu

What to bring for the Intipunku

  • 2 liters of water.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Sunblock, sun hat, and sunglasses
  • Trekking poles with rubber tips (If required)
  • Raincoat.
  • Camara.
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